Scuttlebutt on Stockton’s marina

The amphitheater west of Waterfront Warehouse with the municipal marina in the background. A new marina management company says it can use that amphitheater to boost marina occupancy. CALIXTRO ROMIAS

Stockton’s marina dates to the pre-bankruptcy days when city leaders believed no expense was too much, and if you build it they will come.

… No matter how poorly you design it. The marina’s high-toned character, so out of step with the funky Delta, and its lack of basics, such as a cold beer, or bait or — did I mention beer? — doomed it to irrelevance and red ink.

Amazingly, as I reported here, no full analysis was done on the $22 million project. It was all ad hoc.

Officials, amateurs at marina operation,  ordered pricey redesigns to impress Bay Area yachtsmen. “They had corrugated metal roofing for the slips,” gasped then-Mayor Ann Johnston, who was a councilperson when the marina was upscaled. “I said, ‘You can’t do this. It looks too seedy. It looks cheap.’ ”

Johnston asked me back then, “Do you want the heart of Stockton to be a Lost Isle?”

Oh, Heaven forfend!

Less known is that the marina was supposed to profit from a “dry stack” boat storage facility at nearby Morelli Park. Rumor is (the city says it can’t find records) officials ordered a shed with door too small for the forklift on which they put a non-refundable down payment.

The facility never opened. The shed sat in storage at the Port for years before the city quietly sold it off.

The $237,000 a year deficit is not as bad as it sounds. In bankruptcy the city restructured a $10.8 million loan from the state Department of Boating and Waterways that helped pay for marina construction: as long as the marina loses money, that loan need not be repaid.

But that deal puts the city on the horns of an absurd dilemma. If the marina should actually turn a profit, the city has to pay back the $10.8 million. Which may be why the its contract with SMG focuses on deficit reduction, not elimination.

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    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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