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There are plans for a series of improvements to the Martinez fishing pier and Ferry Point area, beyond basic structural repairs to the pier itself, that city officials hope can be paid for with a state grant.

A public restroom, new fish-cleaning stations, new benches, kite anchors, a kayak launch, public safety cameras, a native-plant garden and interpretive panels are all on the wish list for what Martinez officials call Ferry Point Field.

These potential improvements were discussed at a Dec. 15 community workshop led by the city’s Park, Recreation and Marina Cultural Commission. It was one of a series of workshops required by cities and other entities applying for a California Department of Parks and Recreation “Prop. 68” grant. The next such Zoom workshop is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19.

Michael Chandler, Martinez’s deputy city manager, said that about $400 million will be available in this upcoming fourth round of Prop. 68 grants. He also reiterated that, for the third round of funding, only 62 of 478 applications were funded, splitting about $255 million.

The maximum grant from the fourth round, he said, will be $8.5 million.

“You can see how much this money is in demand — it’s very, very competitive, for sure,” Chandler said.

This whole process was kicked off in December 2019, when the city spent about $34,000 on a detailed study to assess the physical condition of the fishing pier on Carquinez Strait. The pier is popular with fishermen, walkers, joggers and sightseers.

“You can see how much this money is in demand — it’s very, very competitive, for sure.”

Michael Chandler, Martinez city manager

The Martinez Fishing Pier Above Water Inspection Report, received in July, plus an underwater inspection made in mid-October describe more than 20 spots on the pier, deemed to be either “serious” or “severe” structural problems. The most serious issues, the report said, are pilings hollowed out and weakened by tiny boring clams and isopods and by the waves; and at least one support beam under the pier planks rotted out and cracked. The Martinez City Council in October considered closing the pier for safety reasons, but it has remained open thus far.

The estimated cost to make all the needed pier repairs, Chandler said, is about $1.93 million.

The pier was first built in 1934, and parts of it were rebuilt in 1976.

The Prop. 68 grant application seeks money not only for the pier itself, but for improvements in the Ferry Point Field area, a roughly triangular patch of park land immediately south of the pier itself bounded by walking paths, most of them crushed stone or dirt.

Established at the Dec. 15 workshop meeting were amenities planned for the field area, including a public restroom where none currently exists, as many as 19 new benches, kite anchors, a kayak launch, public safety cameras, a native-plant garden and interpretive panels describing the pier’s history. All are on the wish list for what Martinez officials call Ferry Point Field.

One improvement that almost certainly won’t happen, Chandler said, will be removing the large “rip rap” rocks from the water’s edge just west of the pier. One meeting participant had asked Chandler whether access to the waterline could be improved by doing that. Chandler countered that removing those boulders would trigger environmental reviews.

“That could be a small piece of a large puzzle that could really bog us down,” Chandler said.