Effective lobbying by Foss Maritime and Riggers Loft Wine Company sank an opportunity to combine visitor attractions in a single location as the City Council voted unanimously, with only me dissenting, to move the Red Oak Victory to Basin 1 as soon as possible.
In my opinion, the vote was short-sighted and disappointing, apparently signaling an end to a long and productive working relationship between me and the RPA whose support and votes could have turned the tide in a different direction. We have collaborated for years on issues relating to the Port, the Rosie the Riveter WW II Home Front National Historical Park and the Riggers Loft, but it appears the RPA now wants to go a different direction.
I was especially disappointed in the resistance by the Riggers Loft Wine Company, who would never have even had the opportunity to move into the Riggers Loft without the initiatives I pursued to save the building and rent it to provide an income stream for the Port of Richmond. No good deed goes unpunished.
The Red Oak will now be isolated in a location that does not have adequate parking to support its growing number of popular events, and visitors to the Riggers Loft Wine Company and the Whirley crane will be forced for years to look at the vast collection of rusty metal shacks and junk equipment that Foss has assembled at Basin 5.
Richmond: No decision yet on relocation of Red Oak Victory ship
By Chris Treadway
Posted: 06/30/2015 10:08:50 PM PDT
RICHMOND -- Despite meeting for nearly an hour Tuesday evening to discuss moving a historic World War II cargo ship docked at the Port of Richmond to a new location, the City Council did not reach a decision.
The SS Red Oak Victory, a 71-year-old ship and one of the central attractions in the Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park, has been berthed alongside former Kaiser shipyard buildings at the Port of Richmond since 2005. But now that a new winery is set to move into the Riggers Loft, a restored shipyard building that faces the Red Oak, the business has asked that the historic ship be moved because it blocks bay views.
The Riggers Loft Wine Co. wants to feature the location's panorama of San Francisco Bay at outdoor events.
One option includes moving the Red Oak to one of two nearby slips. One of these is known as Basin 5, which is closest to the historic structures considered part of the national park. But Basin 5 is now used by Foss Maritime, which provides towing services to ships at the port.
Foss wants to stay at Basin 5 when it signs a new lease, and according to Mayor Tom Butt, the company has offered to tow the 455-foot Red Oak to another slip, Basin 1, at no charge.
Butt on Monday evening sent out an extensive message on his e-forum calling for public support of the Basin 5 option, which he acknowledged is costlier, but said is a better investment for the city.
"The most favorable place to relocate the Red Oak Victory is in Basin 5, adjacent to both the Riggers Loft and the Whirley Crane," he wrote. "This creates a symbiosis among visitor destinations and a critical mass of historic artifacts in the Rose the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park."
Butt noted port estimates that the Basin 5 option carried an extra cost of up to $300,000, including towing, site preparation, relocating Foss Maritime and other expenses. But there are considerations beyond cost, he maintained in his message.
"The city has already invested heavily in making our national park a visitor destination for cultural tourism," he wrote, noting funds already spent to rehabilitate park-related historic buildings returned to active use such as the Ford Plant and Craneway, and the Maritime Center.
"The return on these investments is hard to quantify in dollars, but they have changed the image of Richmond forever," he wrote.