RICHMOND -- Residents may have a public beach to enjoy by summer.
The City Council unanimously approved Tuesday a plan to spend as much as $115,000 to rehabilitate and maintain Point Molate Beach Park, which has been closed since a civic budget crisis in 2004.
"I would like to see the park open this summer, either the beginning or the end (of summer)," said Chris Chamberlain, superintendent of the city's Parks and Landscaping division.
The funds to reopen the park come from the November 2007 Cosco Busan tanker oil spill, which leaked more than 50,000 gallons of oil into the bay, some of it washing onto Richmond's shores. The city was among several parties in civil complaints filed in San Francisco Superior Court, which were settled in January 2012.
The council agreed last year to divide the money among four major shoreline projects, including closing gaps in the San Francisco Bay trail and improving lighting and other amenities in Marina Bay.
At the park, Chamberlain said the city will pursue a two-phase plan, opening the beach when phase one is complete. The first phase will cost about $74,000, Chamberlain said, and will make the park usable by improving road access, repaving part of the parking lot, complying with Americans with Disabilities Act access requirements and installing temporary bathroom facilities.
Volunteer organizations will also chip in, Chamberlain said, noting that groups including Citizens for a Sustainable Point Molate and the Watershed Project organized a beach cleanup and hauled off tons of debris to celebrate Earth Day 2012.
"(Volunteers) will help offset any general fund burden," Chamberlain said.
In phase two, Chamberlain said he and his staff will explore larger capital improvement projects with the remaining $41,000 and expected contributions from civic and business groups. Permanent restrooms and an enlarged parking lot could be options, Chamberlain said.
Councilman Corky Boozé supported the plan but expressed dismay over the lack of a plan to restore a nearby fishing pier.
"I don't think I'll ever see a fishing pier out there," Boozé said.
Councilman Jim Rogers asked about annual costs, and Chamberlain said the park can be maintained with the cost of one part-time employee.
Resident Marilyn Langlois applauded the council for its commitment to reopen the beach.
"We're kind of champing at the bit in the public waiting to get out there," Langlois said.
Mayor Gayle McLaughlin pledged to help organize a grand opening celebration when the park opens this summer.