Byline: Catherine French
CHANNEL ISLANDS HARBOR — A crowd of more than 200 attended a groundbreaking ceremony Oct. 14 for the new Channel Islands Boating Center, on the west side of Channel Islands Harbor. Site preparation began earlier.
Litigation brought by local activists had caused many delays. Opponents claimed that building the facility would obstruct views and the removal of trees at the site would disrupt nesting herons. In January, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors agreed to pay for a redesign costing more than $360,000 that included reorienting the building 90 degrees to save trees, as required by the Coastal Commission.
The main focus of the new boating center will be to provide opportunities for ocean-based education and recreation to Ventura County residents and visitors, and students of California State University, Channel Islands.
When it is finished, the Channel Islands Boating Center will provide 26,000 square feet of exterior space for small craft storage, a two-story 15,000-square-foot facility and a one-story 1,000-square-foot maintenance building. In addition, the Channel Islands Boating Center dock will be 386 linear feet in length with 7,692 square feet of deck, and the public dock will measure 110 linear feet with 1,244 square feet of deck. The facilities will be compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act standards, for maximum accessibility.
Classrooms, a conference room, showers and lockers are among the amenities to be available. And, thanks to a partnership with the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and its funding of $900,000, educational exhibits will be placed both inside and outside the facility to allow visitors to learn about the natural and cultural history of the area and the Channel Islands National Park and Marine Sanctuary.
Representatives from city, state, federal and local agencies attended the groundbreaking ceremonies and spoke at the event — and all commended Channel Islands Harbor director Lyn Krieger for keeping the project moving forward.
Fifth District Ventura County Supervisor John Zaragoza was the event’s master of ceremonies, and he was joined by supervisors Kathy Long, Steve Bennett and Peter Foy.
State Assemblywoman Julia Brownley offered congratulations from the California State Legislature and commented that the Board of Supervisors and the community should be commended for bringing this great addition to Channel Islands Harbor to fruition. “It took time and persistence to bring us to this point,” she said, “to celebrate the multiple educational opportunities this center will offer to students and the community.”
Oxnard City Councilwoman Irene Pinkard said, “It’s exciting. The boating center will be good for schoolchildren, college students, visitors and residents alike. And, thanks to all, especially Lyn Krieger, for staying at it and making it a reality.”
Richard Rush, president of California State University, Channel Islands, stated, “It’s been a long, arduous task, but it shows what can happen when a community comes together. The boating center will provide instruction to recreational boaters and be a lifelong learning center for the university, in partnership with the community.”
Marine Sanctuaries regional director William Douros stated, “The Chumash (American Indians) knew a long time ago that this was a special place. We are proud to be a partner to share and reach out to the community — especially to those who haven’t had the opportunity to visit Channel Islands National Park or the Marine Sanctuary. Here, they can learn about safe boating and the ocean environment.”
Bob Snyders, president of the Channel Islands Harbor Foundation and a longtime sailor and resident, stated, “It’s a priceless feeling to be here today. I appreciate the efforts of all involved in bringing us to this day. Having sailed since childhood, I know that boating encourages quick thinking, courage and appreciation of the power of and passion for the sea.”
The estimated cost of the Channel Islands Boating Center project is nearly $6 million, of which the Harbor Foundation has raised about $1.5 million. “The Department of Boating and Waterways has come through with $3.5 million in construction financing,” Snyders said. “We are working toward raising the balance of the funding, but we have plenty to get started.”
Supervisor Bennett stated, “Low-income youth deserve to have better access to the joys of sailing, navigation and this great harbor. This center will provide increased access to the ocean experience and the harbor. Thanks to the untiring and thick-skinned (harbor) staff.”
Cindi Smith Daley, representing the Smith Family Foundation, awarded Harbor Department director Lyn Krieger a check for $1 million for the project. Mati Waiya of the Santa Clara River Turtle Clan offered a traditional Chumash blessing for the groundbreaking ceremony.
Supervisor Long said, “Finally: It’s good government, good public service for the greater good. Not always easy. Now, thousands of children and adults can learn about the ocean, Channel Islands Harbor and the environment.”
The boating center construction is scheduled to be completed next year. It will be managed by California State University, Channel Islands.