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Of Pickle Weed, Mice and the Marina - Council Votes To Spend Yet More Money

On Wednesday, the City Council approved an additional $65,000 for plans to offset dumping dredge spoils on pickle weed, and on a species of mouse no one has ever seen there.

For those who believe the phrase “you can’t fight city hall,” take heart. In Martinez, at least, there are forces that city hall apparently can’t fight, either. Though the City Council voted 4-1 Wednesday to keep the Martinez Marina open a little while longer, the city now faces pickle weeds and mice as new adversaries in the quest to restore the marina to its former glory.

The issue is muddy—as muddy as the silt that is filling up the facility on a daily basis, and preventing the boats that dock there from entering or leaving except at high tide. The city desperately needs to dredge the marina, but the cost of doing the entire project is far too expensive, since the state Department of Boating and Waterways has refused any new loans to the city, and in fact demanded payment on old outstanding loans. So the city is going to use a one-time $500,000 donation from Shell to dredge the entrance, a couple of docks and the launch ramp, in the hope of bringing back some of the bigger boats that have moved on to other, more usable facilities.

The latest twist is that the dredging project is going to cost an additional $65,000 in permits because when the city dredges, it dumps the mud into onshore ponds. But those ponds have sat unused for several years, and have become the home to pickle weed. That is the favorite habitat for the salt marsh harvest mouse. And, while no one has actually seen a salt marsh harvest mouse in the particular pickle weed in question, the very presence of pickle weed is enough to require mitigation, better known as money, to state and federal agencies.

The irony is that city officials saw the pickle weed and, anticipating this very problem, tried to get rid of it. But state officials would not allow it. So it grew, and became a potential mouse paradise, and a place of misery for city officials already fed up with sinking more money into a dying marina.

Opposed to spending any more money on the marina was councilwoman Lara DeLaney, who urged the council to consider closing the facility.

“This is not just a $65,000 commitment, on top of that there is another $75,000 to $200,000 to do the actual mitigation,” she said. “The $65,000 just buys us the plan. This is all because they’ve discovered that someday a mouse may decide to relocate there. We’ve already dedicated $476,000 of general fund money. In total, over the past decade, we’ve given the marina over $1 million of our general fund money, to a marina that is supposed to be funded by the marina fund. It’s a financial cesspool. We don’t have the money to do another dredge unless Shell gives us another $500,000. We’re throwing money at a losing situation. I think what the community wants is restaurants, things for people to use. We’re subsidizing a losing operation.”

“We don’t want to spend more money on consultants,” said Mayor Rob Schroder. “But we’re being forced into this. We have to follow federal state and regional regulations. We’ve had many problems trying to get to this dredge. If we do not do this dredge, it’s my opinion that it’s the end of the marina. I think it’s a better waterfront because of the marina. We just have to let some of it go. We’re not going to get the loans to build the world class marina we were hoping to.”

“It’s clear that the state and the city formed a partnership, and the city has kept its end of the bargain,” said councilman Mike Menesini, who has overseen many years of the marina management as mayor for nearly twenty years, beginning in 1984. “The state has been remiss in helping the city with respect to managing the marina as the original contracts called for. There is some confusion as to what’s been invested into the marina and by whom. The city has invested many dollars into the marina enterprise, certainly more than the state has put in.”

Councilman Mark Ross, who faces re-election in November, said he favored keeping the marina going, and eventually purchasing the facility from the state, through legislation.

“The time for the marina is not up yet,” he said. “Parks are not generally profitable. They’re an amenity, a community service. We are buying more time. Yes, we have more federal obligations we have to meet. I don’t think the citizens want to see abandoned docks because we walked away. We should be come owners of the marina through legislation Then the moneys we spend are to an asset that we own. It’s a very popular destination and we need to keep it that way.”

Chris J Kapsalis October 19, 2012 at 09:54 PM
This mouse is almost identical to other types of Harvest mice. They just adapted to live near the shore. Other mice will fill that in and adapt in no time. They breed very fast and can eat almost anything, survive almost anywhere. Mice are survivors and will probably be the last thing living after WW3. That and roaches. They are a rodent. A pest. This is over the line and all about $. Give me a break.
Marshall Cochrane October 20, 2012 at 02:44 AM
Is the mouse really a "NEW" hiccup to the Martinez marina dredging. Based on 2010 articles by the Gazette: The City paid Moffat & Nichols $259,543 for providing technical studies for dredging and temp repairs to the marina in a report dated Dec 10, 2009. In July 2010 The city council approved a another contract for $200,000 to provide engineering services to dredge the marina and prepare dredge ponds. In 2010 it was reported:"the ponds are not only almost filled to capacity but one is now home to the salt marsh harvest mouse. This is in year 2010. Now in 2012 a new hiccup, an added surprise, the existence of the salt marsh harvest mouse and another $65,000 needs to be spend to devise a mitigation plan. Is this a different mouse from the one which was discovered and reported upon in 2010 since it was described as a “new hiccup.” $259,543 + $200,000 + $65,000 = $524,543. So the city has essentially spent 1/2 million dollars for engineering "study work" without dredging 1 gallon of silt from the marina floor...
Melanie Ashby October 20, 2012 at 01:29 PM
With all the talk of paying engineers to devise dredging plans I wonder why Engineers were not hired to re-work the entrance to the marina to minimize the silting problems in the future.
Thomas O. Martini October 20, 2012 at 03:12 PM
Bureaucratic blah...I don't get it, the feds determine the mouse is endangered so why can't the city get some of that stimulus money that was for the preservation of the San Francisco bay area wetlands? Spending money on protecting rodents and we have humans who have fought in our wars, educated our children, and paid taxes all their lives who are now seniors and some in dire need of help and can't get it. And they are living in the streets of all of our cities. I just don't get it. I understand this little mouse is endangered but has anyone ever seen one in our marshland? I lived here for 62 years and grew up hiking, fishing and yes, even swimming in the waters of the marina. Caught and released lizards and snakes as a kid but never seen any mouse in the area. Granted, there must have been some sort of rodent there for the snakes to feed on. We need to keep the marina open... for our children and grandchildren and those of us that enjoy it. Martinez just wouldn't be the same without it. It is a landmark for our city. If it means downsizing and removing berths or ? I am not sure what. We at least have to keep some visitor berths and the launch ramp.
maria Billingsley October 20, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Your right Marshall,this is not new information just over looked once again. The fact of the matter is the onshore ponds were neglected and now MTZ has to dump the silt outside of the city limits and that is going to take time and money. Who ever is in charge of this thing, is not doing a good job of due diligence. We are now approaching the deadline and may have to wait till next year. Permits take a while as WE all know.
MIKE ALFORD October 21, 2012 at 05:59 AM
When ? When are you people going to Stand up & Wake up to the fact that Sacramento Has Said NO more money ! its all a lie about the marina is comming along and that The dept of boating & waterways is going along with the latest Lie that was in front of the dead beat city counsel last week ! Right In Front of Everyone They lied about the latest idea that is going to take place -- first of all I spent 40 minutes on the phone with Silva Hunter in Sacramento before the meeting she told Me that it was wrong to take the money from a fund martinez HAD to put up for collatral to show that we were going to keep our obligation for past and present loans . Now they as much as said (We are Doing it anyway We Do What We Like Anyway) I told them at the meeting You Are Going To Break The Law By taking that money from the 350,000 fund ! that money belongs to an impound fund for D.B.A.W !! --- You know if you people REALLY WANTED to know what is really Going on --- You Could Call Sacramento --- At -- 916 -263 -8165 --- ask for Silva Hunter She will tell you the Truth ! And when you Find Out The Truth -- Mike & Mark Are And have been telling you & the People of Martinez Straght Out Lies !! ------ Well its up to you , You Want The TRUTH ? Make That Call Monday ---- Hell Tell them Mike Alford Told You to Call !!
MIKE ALFORD October 21, 2012 at 07:09 PM
See Folks !!! This Is The Way You Stand Up To City Hall ---- This Is The Way You Put The Lies & Expose Mike & Mark Statments and Actions at last weeks city counsel meeting about the Martinez marina ------ CALL & Talk to Miss Silva Hunter at The dept. Of Boating and Waterways (D.B.A.W.) This is the only way You Are going to Hear With Your Own Ears What Is The Truth ! Call -- 916 - 263 - 8165 ------ Put A Stop To The Lies Once And For All ----- Make That Call --
MIKE ALFORD October 22, 2012 at 07:13 AM
You Know I will bet the phones will be ringing at Dept .of Boat & Waterways in Sacramento first thing in the morning ! I wonder how Ross & the City Counsel are going to SPIN this ?
JACK DAVIS October 13, 2013 at 02:24 AM
WE ARE A DREDGING CONTRACTOR WILLING TO HELP WITH ALTERNATIVE REMOVAL AND PLACEMENT SOLUTIONS THAT MAY HELP WITH THIS PROBLEM. WE WILL BE HAPPY TO HELP WITH THIS OR FUTURE DREDGING PROJECTS JACK DAVIS CAN AM DREDGING JKDALIVE@YAHOO.COM 503-953-4120 JKDALIVE@YAHOO.COM

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