Notes on the marina

Here are a few of the highlights from the City Council work session Monday night on dredging the San Leandro Marina and choosing a master developer for the shoreline area:

In describing the scope of the work required for the city to begin dredging, Uche Udemezue, the city’s engineering and transportation director, said the marina’s conditions have worsened since the Army Corps of Engineers last dredged the two-mile federal channel. The reason: siltation. Which means the city would have a lot more material to remove if dredging took place, which also means the costs could grow to an even larger amount.

We were hoping we would just have to spot-dredge areas, but siltation is so widespread that that opportunity is lost.

City Manager John Jermanis later went on to say that the capital improvements needed at the boat harbor could get expensive. The harbor needs $10 million in improvements that the city can’t pay for right now, he said, but the city could borrow money from the state and take on an additional $600,000 debt per year.

However, he said, the city does have $2 million in the bank to pay for relocating the small boat ramp. And the city intends to keep that service available for as long as it can, he added.

He also said revenue generated from the golf course, restaurants and hotel are all being used to subsidize the harbor operations.

But the costs associated with removing dredged spoils from the marina if it were dredged could basically trump any new endeavors the city wants to pursue out there, he said.

If it weren’t for the dredging costs, we would be able to go forward.

Councilman Michael Gregory said he really didn’t see how the harbor could sustain itself with all the costs involved. He said outright:

It doesn’t look too sustainable.

Of course, there were people on both sides of the spectrum who spoke in favor of and against dredging.

Heidi Finberg, former San Leandro Chamber of Commerce CEO, said the reason the boat harbor had such a low occupancy rate was not solely because of dredging; it’s because the city hasn’t been advertising the marina properly. (The former Blue Dolphin restaurant still shows up in ads about the marina even though the place has been closed for decades, she said.) She also said boats are “scattered” throughout the marina because services are not consolidated, and the channel markers are not maintained.

Let’s improve our own housekeeping instead of letting it go derelict.

A Folsom resident said people from outside of San Leandro only come to the marina because it is the southernmost part of the bay to launch a boat, so he didn’t want to see the harbor close. His big idea: adding corporate sponsorship to the marina.

But longtime resident Howard Kerr didn’t want to see dredging continued, and he urged the council to get something else started because the indecision is “keeping the community upset.”

I want to see the boat harbor closed and developed into the first-class facility we’ve been waiting for for 20 years.

And, finally, Councilman Bill Stephens:

What I’d like to see is something happen. I’d like to see our jewel polished … so that everybody can come to it. I’d like to see what the dreammakers [the potential master developers] can bring back to us, and I’m not so concerned with the color of the paint.

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