The Newspaper of the San Francisco Bay Chapter
January - February 2008
Presidio Trust weighs one more major construction project
Historic barracks, modern museum could brew odd mix for historic heart of national park
What should be the future for the Parade Ground, the historic heart of San Francisco's Presidio, and the surrounding Main Post area and East Crissy Field? The Presidio Trust has invited public comment on what alternatives should be studied for this area, and what impacts, both historic and environmental, should be analyzed.
A recent study concluded that $60 million would be needed to remove the large central parking lot, expand other lots elsewhere, and create a green area with walkways down to the Bay and space for concerts and other public events.
Rehabilitating six three-story red-brick barracks at the Parade Ground will cost $12 million each. The Trust this year announced that it would have enough funds to prepare three of them for rental to groups providing public programs. In addition, the Disney Family Foundation and the International Center to End Violence will each be rehabbing a building, and the National Park service is working with the Trust to improve the remaining building for the visitor center.
In May the Trust called for proposals to build a lodge at the Parade Ground and in August for proposals for a museum there. It has selected a firm to build the lodge and has received two proposals to build a new museum. The existing Management Plan, however, calls for only one new building at the Parade Ground, and after public outcry the Trust re-opened environmental/historical review. It is also considering the possibility of a museum at Crissy Field. Early next year the Trust may select one or possibly both museums. The location of the lodge and any museums will be decided late next year after the review is completed.
The Sierra Club has submitted a letter stating that the contemporary-art museum, as currently proposed, would diminish the integrity and appearance of the entire Presidio National Historic Landmark, and should not be built. In contrast, the History Museum is a natural use for the Main Post, conceivably in one of the historic barracks.
If the Trust is to go ahead with a Contemporary Art Museum, it could be located at the parking lot next to the Sports Basement, near Crissy Field, where there are no historic buildings, and it would therefore have much less negative historic impact. On the other hand, the environmental impacts may be severe.
The Presidio Trust Corporation, run by a Board appointed by President Bush, with a majority of members affiliated with real-estate development, intends to continue its practice of selecting a winner in competitive proposals before completing the required Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The Sierra Club opposes this process.
Write to the Presidio Trust Board at:
P.O. Box 29052
Urge the Board not to allow a large contemporary-art museum at the Main Post. If it wishes to consider such a museum, it should explore alternative locations, sizes, and designs to make it compatible with the national park. Urge it not to select a developer until the Supplementary EIS is completed.
© 2008 San Francisco Sierra Club Yodeler
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