Funds approved for new trails, picnic areas, vista points and restrooms at Breuner Marsh

New trails, picnic areas and restrooms at Breuner Marsh expected to be completed by February 2016
Whitney Dotson, shown at the speaker's podium, was credited for his lifelong effort to protect Richmond's coastline from development.

New scenic trails enhanced by picnic areas and vista points with benches are coming to Richmond’s shoreline.

On Tuesday, the East Bay Regional Park District Board of Directors approved a $1.5 million contract to fund the second of three construction phases of the 150-acre Breuner Marsh restoration project.

The $1.5 million will be used to enhance public access to the newly-restored coastal area just south of the Point Pinole Regional Shoreline. Livermore-based RGW Construction Inc. has been tapped to build an entry road into the area, a 27-car parking lot, restrooms, a .3-mile segment of the San Francisco Bay Trail leading to a picnic area, another .3-mile spit trail, overlook areas and a bridge over Rheem Creek, according to Phase 2 plans.

In April last year, a groundbreaking was held on Earth Day at Breuner Marsh to celebrate the overall $8.5 million restoration and public access project, which came to fruition after decades of community resistance to commercial development of the site.

The three-phase project restores and sustains the waterfront property as tidal marsh, removing contaminated soil and improving water quality. It protects endangered species and includes building a 1.5-mile-long trail that will fill the Bay Trail gap between Richmond and Point Pinole. Once finished, the marsh will be able to withstand 60 inches of sea level rise, officials say.

The first phase of the project, which was completed last year, involved habitat restoration and mass grading (see video below). The third and final phase, expected to begin next year, involves constructing another 1.2 miles of trail along the eastern edge of Giant Marsh and connecting to the Bay View Trail in Point Pinole.

Shout out to the Bay Area Trails for Richmond Action Committee, or TRAC, for tipping us off to the latest news on this project.

Breuner Marsh is named after the owner of a furniture chain store who had previously owned the land.

Whitney Dotson, a lifelong Richmond resident and community leader, spent decades along with his father trying to protect the land from development. Over the years there were plans to build a small plane airport at the site, and also a proposal to install two-story factories that would have brought about 6,000 automobile visits to the area daily, affecting, Parchester Village and North Richmond communities, Dotson says. Upscale housing was also pitched, but ultimately the parks district acquired the land through eminent domain and a long legal battle.