Van Damme Achieves Project Milestone

Congratulations are in order. The news is just in that the Charles Van Damme Ferry Project has received approval from the BCDC (San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission) for the project’s addition to the new Waldo Point Harbor (WPH) public pier and park. This is the last in a long chain of discretionary approvals that were needed—from the State Lands Commission, Marin County, WPH (Lew Cook), and the BCDC. The project was attached as a 2-line amendment  to the WPH permit, seeing as the restored ferry artifacts will be a central feature of the new park. WPH will first need to complete construction of the park, which could be achieved by late fall. The CVD Ferry Project needs to then break ground by 2018, with their own required completion date slated for 2019.

The project can now proceed—full steam ahead—with Phase 8: the structural engineering drawings—necessary both for seeking competitive construction bids and for obtaining permits from the County Planning Commission—and with fund raising. During a meeting on March 30 a core group of 8 volunteers (all but one floating homes residents) gathered to strategize everything from fast-approaching grant deadlines to the wisdom of hiring or otherwise engaging a professional grant writer, project coordinator and not least, fundraiser. Michele Affronte (of Liberty Dock), though not able to be there for the evening, donated her living room, along with a few bottles of wine.

Foremost on everyone’s minds was the opportunity in the coming days to network with the crowd at the April 1 launch of the Matthew Turner, and again at the Sausalito Yard Sale on April 8. Along with attracting volunteers and donors, these encounters will enable the Ferry Project to take the pulse of the community—gauge support. The Matthew Turner and the Ferry Restoration Project share common ground. They both rely heavily on fundraising and volunteers, they both take a contemporary approach to the preservation of historic aspects of our community, and even skills-wise, they both have need of grant writers working alongside ships carpenters and craftsmen. The paddle wheel will need extensive replacements of timber and steel elements alike, not to mention the restoration of the steam stack and constructing the viewing platform.

The evening ended with a look back in time, as Shoshana (of Main Dock) shared some of her research—encounters with a few of the boys  (now grown) who played on the Van Damme as children. Next up are the girls. Integral to the project is the collection of both oral and pictorial histories. Ultimately this is what will push (what could have been) a static monument to become a vibrant repository for our community history. If you have something to contribute—time, donations, anecdotes—please get in touch with the two CVD co-directors Judyth Greenburgh and Dona Schweiger through the Charles Van Damme Ferry Project website.