RICHMOND -- Funds from a $669,000 settlement stemming from a 2007 oil spill off Richmond's shore will be used for a variety of projects enhancing the city's waterfront, including reopening Point Molate Beach Park.

A unanimous City Council on Tuesday voted to divide the money among four major projects:

  • $235,000 will go to close a quarter-mile gap in the San Francisco Bay trail to link the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park with Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline Park.

  • $254,000 will go to close another 0.16-mile gap in the trail along Garrard Boulevard between Cutting Boulevard and the Ferry Point Tunnel.

  • $26,000 was set aside for basic improvements to the Marina Bay Trail.

  • Council members and the public took particular interest in lauding the last expenditure, $154,000 for restoration and reopening of Point Molate Beach Park, which was closed during a civic budget crisis in 2004.

    "It's just a delightful park," said Councilman Tom Butt. "This is one of the few things we can do at Point Molate without constraints."

    The funds stem from the November 2007 Cosco Busan oil spill, which leaked more than 50,000 gallons of oil into the bay, some of it washing onto Richmond's shores. The city was among several parties in civil complaints filed in San Francisco Superior Court, which were settled in January.

    More than 100 volunteers turned out for a cleanup party at Point Molate Beach Park earlier this year, plucking hundreds of pounds of tires, boat parts and other debris from the sands and waters.

    Several residents and Councilman Corky Booze questioned the expenditures, arguing in favor of using the money to restore crumbling infrastructure in aging central and south Richmond neighborhoods rather than the shoreline district.

    But City Attorney Bruce Goodmiller said the settlement marked the funds for the shoreline, which bore the impact of the spill.

    Booze succeeded in amending the motion to include installation of a railing for the fishing pier at the park.

    A city staff report warned the council that there remain unresolved concerns at the beach, including security and environmental quality at the site. There is no timetable for its reopening.

    But some residents were undaunted by the unknowns.

    "Many Richmond residents have never even been (to the beach) because it's been closed for so long," said Marilyn Langlois, a resident and candidate for City Council. "They'll see what a jewel this is."

    Contact Robert Rogers at 510-262-2726. Follow him at Twitter.com/roberthrogers.