Antioch Opens New Marina Boat Launch

By James Ott

Nearly 200 people crowded the new boat launch at the Antioch Marina to witness the inaugural ribbon cutting ceremony and the official opening of the boat launch last Saturday.

Citizens of Antioch, the U.S. Coast Guard, Antioch Police, Contra Costa County Sheriff Marine Patrol and Jet Skiers were all on hand to watch the ceremony hosted by Antioch Deputy Director of Community Development Ryan Graham.

After the U.S. Coast Guard presented the U.S. flag on the water for the playing of the National Anthem, Graham spoke to the crowd about the new boat launch.

This is really exciting,” said Graham. “It’s been a long time coming but… it’s a beautiful facility for the City of Antioch and this is one of many events we plan to have here.”

After the ceremony Diablo Jet Ski Action hosted a jet-ski race in front of nearby Humphrey’s Restaurant and the new boat ramp.

Saturday marked the end of eight years of planning, development and construction for the $3.7 million, state-of-the-art facility.

The facility has parking space for 129 boaters and thanks to another grant received back in January, the new launch will eventually have restrooms, a third boarding float and a payment kiosk.

The launch will be free until the payment kiosk is added, after which boaters will need to shell out $5 to launch their watercraft.

The project was funded in 2004 by a grant from the Department of Boating and Waterways.

Graham and other city leaders say the new facility will provide a better, safer alternative to the free-to-launch Fulton Shipyard Boat Ramp. Although City Council voted to keep it open while they and a core group of dedicated volunteers try to decide how best to update and clean up the decades-old boat ramp, its future is still unknown.

The unsteady future of the Fulton Shipyard boat launch remains an open wound for some Antioch residents, with some claiming the city only wants to shut down the Fulton facility to increase attendence, and thus spending, at the new facility.

Jim Boccio, owner of the Red Caboose – a restaurant near the Fulton boat ramp – was present Saturday to witness the opening of the new Antioch Marina Boat Launch.

This new ramp is a tremendous facility, we hope that people will come to it,” said Boccio. “But we hope access will remain at both facilities.”

Councilman Gary Agopian and city staff members Phil Herrington and Ryan Graham cut the ribbon at Antioch's new Marina Boat Launch Facility on Saturday, April 7, 2012

Rick Robinson, a resident of Antioch for 57 years and an attendee at Saturday’s event, agreed: “The more access to the river in Antioch, the better.”

Despite some opposition, overall reaction to the new marina boat launch has been positive.

24-year-old jet skier Johnny Barton was enamored with the new ramp that promises better access to the water for the sport he loves.

It’s a beautiful day, it’s a beautiful facility and there’s a big turnout,” said Barton. “I think this will bring more people to the water.”

Twins Gabby and Molly Brodowski, 10, both had good things to say about the boat launch.

It’ll be really good for the city” said Molly.

It’s a better and safer launch,” said Gabby.

And they both agreed the day was, “really exciting.”

Perhaps one of the new boat launch’s biggest backers is Diablo Jet Ski Action Race Director Jim Lambert, who, until Saturday, had not had the chance to host a jet ski race on the waters of the city he grew up in for three years.

Lambert, who is also a Contra Costa County Sheriff Marine Patrolman, is big on water safety. Which is a big reason why he founded Diablo Jet Ski Action – to provide a safe outlet for speed on the water – and a big reason why he supports the new boat launch, which he said is much safer than the old Fulton facility.

The new boat launch is incredible,” said Lambert. “Fulton wasn’t functional and safe enough for residents. This [new facility] is in the heart of downtown… [and] it’s completely lit up at night – it’s a five star facility – it really is.”

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Boat Launch Ribbon Cutting 2

Boat Launch Ribbon Cutting 1

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