MARTINEZ -- Martinez leaders are encouraged by the first meeting of a revived city-state committee on the ailing marina, but it may take a year to develop a strategy to revitalize it.

At the city's request, the state Department of Finance, Department of Parks and Recreation, Department of Fish and Wildlife, Division of Boating and Waterways and State Lands Commission are working with Martinez to find a way to save the marina, which is burdened with debt and plagued by decay. State Sen. Lois Wolk, who represents Martinez, hosted the Aug. 15, meeting at the State Capitol.

A similar joint committee was established in 1964 to oversee the development and leasing of the marina, but it hadn't met in more than 20 years. Earlier this month, Mayor Rob Schroder and Councilman Mike Menesini briefed the other council members on the committee meeting.

"We emphasized that the relationship between the state and the marina is a partnership, it was designed that way from the get-go," said Menesini, who attended the meeting with Schroder and several city staffers.

The deteriorating conditions at the marina have hampered the city's ability to repay $4.1 million in outstanding state loans. Revenue is down largely because boats sit in the mud at low tide, leaving half of the usable 256 berths empty.

City leaders had been counting on another state loan to repair the eastern breakwater wall, but in 2011, the Division of Boating and Waterways refused to lend Martinez any more money for the marina until the city pays down the existing debt to less than $1 million. The agency also rejected the city's request to restructure the loans or defer payments for three to five years.

According to Menesini, the legislative representatives at the meeting urged the parties to get beyond the money issue and "talk about whether or not this is an asset that we need to join hands together and conserve."

Schroder said Wolk also reminded staffers from the Division of Boating and Waterways that the agency's core mission is to create access to the water and promote boating.

"I got the impression that she was kind of pointing out to them that although collecting the state's money is important, don't lose sight of that core mission of why you even exist," Schroder said. "So that was a positive statement."

At the second committee meeting, the participants will discuss whether the marina is a valuable asset to Martinez residents and the state; what it would take to make the marina sustainable; and sources of funding to revitalize the marina.

City leaders believe the marina is important to the region for recreation, transportation as a potential ferry terminal site and public safety, if the Bay Bridge or other key infrastructure were damaged in an earthquake or a terrorist attack.

But the clock is ticking. Silt continues to flow into the marina through the dilapidated breakwater wall and the poorly configured entrance, making the marina less attractive to boaters.

"I think after the second meeting we'll have a much better idea of where we're going and the timeline behind it," Schroder said this week.

Lisa P. White covers Martinez and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.

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