Point Molate Beach Park reopened at sunrise Monday morning after being closed for more than a decade due to budget woes.
The 11-acre park, stretching along a third of a mile of Richmond’s shoreline, provides boastworthy views of Mt. Tamalpais, the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge and San Francisco. It has remained relatively unchanged since it closed in 2001, and volunteer groups have worked to clean up the park, which until Monday had been blocked by a chain link fence.
After the Richmond City Council decided this March to reopen the park, the Richmond Public Works Department installed new picnic tables and barbecues, in addition to a wheelchair-accessible path, picnic area and parking lot. The city also added a portable restroom, while it looks for funding for a permanent facility.
Down the line, the city will tackle bigger problems the park faces, including shoreline erosion. There’s also the possibility of designating a swimming area or kayak launch facility and an interpretive program featuring the site’s ecological history, according to a city staff report from February. Such large-scale improvements are funding-dependent.
Beachgoers can only access the park by car, since there are no pedestrian or bicycle access points to the site yet. The city and the East Bay Regional Park District have plans for a Bay Trail linkage from Point Molate to the rest of the Point San Pablo Peninsula, according to the Trails for Richmond Action Committee.
The park lies just north of I-580 and the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge on Western Drive.
Further up the road, you’ll find the rest of the now-abandoned Point Molate Naval Fuel Depot complex, including naval personnel homes, administration buildings and the castle-like red brick Winehaven.
In the 1930s, the park was privately owned and undeveloped, but was a popular recreation site for Richmond residents. During World War II, the park was part of an active naval base, and the water was covered in a layer of oil. The U.S. Navy developed and maintained the area until the late 1960s, until the city leased the park for $1/year.
Point Molate Beach Park is now open sunrise to sunset.