For eight years, a jewel in Richmond has been kept from public view.
It’s a stretch of sandy beach, where gentle swells lap against the shore and each day closes with a brilliant sunset framed by the San Rafael Bridge.
But Point Molate Beach has been closed since 2004, when the city’s fiscal troubles forced drastic cutbacks, including to funds for maintaining public parks.
But if a group of concerned residents gets its way, that will change.
More than 70 volunteers turned out Saturday to clean up the long-neglected Point Molate Beach Park. In several hours, the volunteers were able to haul from the sand and surf hundreds of pounds of marine debris, including tires, watercraft fragments, glass, and metal parts. Access to the park is normally blocked by a locked chain link fence.
“I have really focused on gathering a lot of pieces of glass,” said Michelle Loaiza, a volunteer, as she sifted through the moist sand. “We have to make sure the beach is safe for kids.”
The event was organized by the Watershed Project and Citizens for a Sustainable Pt. Molate, said chief organizer Joan Garrett.
City Councilman Tom Butt and Mayor Gayle McLaughlin were among the elected officials on hand to help.
Local favorite CJ’s Barbecue and Fish provided a lunchtime feast to wet and sandy volunteers.
Among the peculiar items volunteers pulled from the beach included a fully assembled marine toilet, perhaps broken loose from a sunken vessel, Garrett said.
“It’s conceivable, with city support and continued volunteer efforts, that we could re-open the beach this summer,” Garrett said. “It’s a special place here. Certain times of year, you can view a sunset here like none other in the world.”