City Council moves forward with Point Molate study

Sean Pyles

blogimage.jpgPoint Molate may soon have a purpose. The Richmond City Council unanimously agreed last night to contribute funds for a real estate consultant to survey the area and make suggestions for best use. The funding of this consultant is the first step in the arduous process of rehabbing the troubled 412-acre site.

Funding the consultant is a joint venture from the Richmond City Council and the Trust for Public Land (TPL), a nonprofit which works to conserve lands for public parks. Richmond agreed to contribute $10,000, and TPL will pay upwards of $40,000 toward the hiring of Lynn Sedway, a respected real estate consultant who has worked in the Bay Area for over 40 years.

Sedway — who in the past helped establish the Mission Bay campus for University of San Francisco and facilitated the Lucasfilm campus in the Presidio — is charged with determining the best use for the space. Among the considered uses for Point Molate are a hotel, a winery, and a public park. 

Upon introducing the item Councilmember Gayle McLaughlin looked forward to the possibilities of this partnership. “We all know that Point Molate was slated for a casino, it was rejected, and now we have new opportunities in place,” McLaughlin stated. “It’s time to start moving forward with Point Molate.” 

Councilmember Nat Bates was skeptical of the endeavor. Citing a legal obligation to make the area economically sustainable, Bates questioned the motives of TPL, an organization dedicated to creating parks and open spaces. 

“It is my understanding that the park has to include opportunity for employment through economic development,” Bates said. “If we suddenly turn that into open space, are we jeopardizing [Point Molate] being taken back by the government?”

Formerly a Navy Fuel depot, the United States Government sold Point Molate to Richmond for $1 a number of years ago. One of the conditions of the agreement was that the space had be economically self-sustaining. So far, the park has taken nearly 20 years to reclaim from oil waste, and it is estimated that updating basic utilities would cost nearly $60 million. Redeveloping Point Molate has been an uphill battle.  

There has been progress at the park — the Point Molate Beach opened last year, and the cleaning crews broke ground on fresh a section of land late last year — but much work remains before Point Molate has a true purpose. 

To learn more on Point Molate, read: “The Point Without a Purpose”

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  • Don Gosney
    commented 2015-04-08 17:40:58 -0700
    Since taking ownership Pt. Molate five years ago it’s sat fallow and has been wasting away. It’s deteriorating on a daily basis and it’s a financial drain on the City’s limited resources. It needs to be developed.

    On the surface this seems like a pretty good deal, but we’re still in a financial bind and even a paltry $10,000 contribution is a drain on our depleted coffers.

    The Trust for Public Lands focuses mostly on preserving public lands for parks. Their two page proposal mentions parks 15 times while mentioning economic development only twice.

    While we all want to preserve the natural beauty of Point Molate, when Congress approved the transfer of the site to the City it specifically required that it be an engine for economic development.

    Their proposal further says—and I quote—“We also propose continuing to collaborate with the Point Molate working group, an ad hoc group led by Councilmember McLaughlin”.

    Just who is this ad hoc group, who elected or appointed them, what are their goals and what authority do they have for representing the people and businesses of Richmond?

    The point person the Trust proposes working with has argued against virtually any economic development of Pt. Molate—and even suggested once that it should be turned into a dog park—so why should we entrust this partnership to a previously unknown group led by her?

    It also proposes to work with two groups—one of which has fought against economic development of Pt. Molate for years. And the other a committee with members hand picked by then Mayor McLaughlin with a bent against economic development.

    Where is the balance between economic development and preserving the natural attributes of the site?

    Their proposal further tells us that their goal is to protect Pt. Molate. Protect it from what and from whom?

    It’s the Trust that will have the contract with Sedway which means that they call the shots and they’re the ones directing Sedway on what to propose. THE PEOPLE OF RICHMOND WILL HAVE NO SAY IN THIS. This consultant will work for the Trust and not the City. Their proposal barely touches on even consulting with the City or the Council about the direction their consultant will go in.

    Mark my words that the next time we hear about any of this it will be in the form of a resolution requiring Richmond to accept their proposals and turn Pt. Molate into something that the Trust wants.
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