City Beat

Sacramento aims to attract marina customers with new plan

Sacramento officials hope a new plan will bring more bustle to the city’s too-quiet marina in Miller Park.

The City Council on Tuesday approved a new business plan for the facility on the banks of the Sacramento River that includes a 15 percent reduction in slip rental rates and investments in the marina’s grounds. The plan will also allow the city to enter into a more favorable debt payoff schedule for loans it took out from the state’s Department of Boating and Waterways.

“We want to get back to basics by valuing our customers,” city Public Works Director Jerry Way told the City Council. “We want to create an experience that people are truly going to enjoy.”

Nestled among 57 picturesque acres just south of downtown, the marina suffered during the recession. After years of waiting lists and high occupancy rates, less than half the 475 slips in the marina are currently filled.

In an attempt to lure back customers, the city will reduce rates and spruce up the marina grounds. Rates will range from $211 a month for a 25-foot uncovered slip to $624 for a 50-foot spot.

The city also plans to build a second restroom in the northern part of the marina and rehab the existing bathroom near the boat launch. Boaters and city officials have also called for added security in the docking and parking areas, shaded picnic areas, improved landscaping and fish-cleaning stations.

Loan payments to the state – which helped finance a multistage renovation of the docks – would be reduced from roughly $1 million a year to $521,226 beginning this August.

Councilman Steve Hansen, whose district includes the marina, said the new business plan would place the facility “on far better footing.” He said he has heard from many boaters about security concerns and asked the city to form a group of marina members to provide regular feedback on the planned changes.

“I believe it’s a beautiful marina and I would like to see it utilized to its complete potential,” said Catherine Walden, a boater for 15 years who told the council she no longer keeps her boat at the city marina because of the cost. “I do think upgrades would be helpful.”

Bob Chase, another former marina tenant, told the council the city should explore a long-discussed concept of developing Miller Park with housing or entertainment venues.

“That could turn it into the most desirable marina in Northern California,” he said.

Way said the city has “entertained a couple of meetings in the last six months about opportunities” to redevelop the park. Councilman Kevin McCarty said proposals came to the city nearly 10 years ago, but failed to materialize.

“I think it’s a fabulous idea and opportunity,” McCarty said. “It really is an asset that we always say we should look for other opportunities to do more with. Why not? It makes sense.”