We have made some incremental progress over the years with the removal of the old decrepid ferry pier, installation of two new launch ramps, and the construction of the plaza and sheet pile in front of and adjacent to the harbor masters office. But year after year, our efforts to work with the State Department of Boating and Waterways (DBAW) and the private investment sector continually comes up short.
The root of the problem is two-fold. The first is that the Martinez Marina was built in 1960 and needs to be replaced, just like any wooden structure that has been sitting in salty water for over 50 years. The other major problem is that the city has a debt to the state of $4.1 million on the deteriorating marina. This is like having an old, fully depreciated vehicle that needs thousands of dollars of repairs and a bank loan that will take years to pay off.
Why do we have such a large debt on a marina that is near the end of its usefull life? Hasn’t the city kept up with its financial obligations to DBAW? Has this important city asset been mismanaged? In short, the Martinez Marina has been in financial stress with huge maintenance costs since it was first under construction in the 1960’s. It has never been self-sustaining, let alone made a profit from its operations, and for over 50 years previous city councils have struggled with finding solutions to the sustainability of the Martinez Marina and Waterfront.
In 1964 the City of Martinez, the State Lands Commission and the Department of Parks & Recreation Division of Small Craft Harbors entered into a Memo of Understanding (MOU) to create a City-State Committee that was charged with overseeing the development, maintenance and leasing of the Martinez Marina. This collaborative decision-making body has not met for decades, and our relationship with the state has become one of lender and debtor, not partners working toward the financial and community success of the Martinez Waterfront.
To that end, representatives of the city, including the city manager, Council Member Menesini, and myself, recently met in Sacramento with State Senator Lois Wolk and Tomi Van de Brooke, the district director for assembly member Susan Bonilla, in an effort to bring all the interested parties together to find solutions for the future of a successful Martinez Marina. Both Senator Wolk and Assembly Member Bonilla’s office acknowledged the urgency of the conditions at the marina and agreed to spearhead these efforts and help us facilitate solutions. Time is our enemy and every day means more siltation and deterioration. This could be our last chance to find and institute the re-birth of the Martinez Marina and Waterfront as we know it.