Council members voted in favor of working with residents to keep the Fulton Shipyard Boat Ramp open, forming a committee with community members to ensure that the area can be a safe place to launch a boat. Residents shared their concerns with City Council, offering solutions to help make that area a better place.
“I certainly don’t want to have to close it,” Mayor Jim Davis said. “It’s a dead issue at this point. It’s not going to be closed.”
At a November meeting, Antioch Police Capt. Steve McConnell said that over the last five years, the department has received 298 calls for service in that area, ranging from vandalism and loitering to drug use and shootings. City Engineer Ron Bernal noted that it costs Antioch roughly $21,400 annually to maintain the boat ramp, about $18,000 of which is dedicated to picking up trash four times per week and cleaning up graffiti.
In the November staff report, Bernal stated that keeping Fulton Shipyard’s ramp open could hurt revenue coming from the new downtown boat launch, which charges a $5 fee. Currently, there is no charge to launch a boat at the Fulton Shipyard ramp.
“If the ramp were to remain open, it was council’s desire to see something done with that facility that would reduce the cost that the city is currently incurring to keep it going,” Bernal said before the vote.
But at Tuesday’s meeting, a group of residents pledged that they could find ways to improve the boat ramp without a cost to the city. Lifelong Antioch resident Jim Baccio, who owns land near the boat ramp, proposed leasing the ramp to a nonprofit organization and keeping strict hours of sunrise to sunset.
Sheila White’s Red Caboose restaurant sits on Baccio’s land. Many of her customers are fishermen or duck hunters, and she feared that closing the ramp would severely hurt her business and its 12 employees.
“There’s people in and out of there all day because of the nice weather,” White said. “I don’t have any objection to two boat ramps. We’re the gateway to the Delta, but it needs to be fair. … We’ve got people that are volunteering down there to keep it open.”
Former City Councilman Arne Simonsen also weighed in, saying that Antioch could have obtained state grant money for the boat ramp a few years ago, but city leaders didn’t seem interested at the time. He felt that keeping the ramp open is vital for local businesses. Resident Bill Worrell appealed to council members by pointing out the historical significance of the area. Antioch resident Rick Robinson said the placement of the new downtown ramp, set to open later this month, is not the ideal place to launch a boat.
The council ultimately decided that providing two access points to the river could make a positive impact. “I think we ought to give it a chance,” Councilman Wade Harper said. “There’s nothing wrong with having two launch ramps in our city, and there’s a lot of history there. I wouldn’t feel good about closing it.”
In other City Council action, city leaders voted to officially dissolve its redevelopment agency in accordance with a recent California Supreme Court ruling. The council also approved a measure eliminating earthquake insurance for City Hall and the Police Station, saving Antioch roughly $124,000 in the upcoming fiscal year.