Cash source opening in GG Park 

Push carts with Frisbees, rubber balls and other park gear could soon be the latest addition to Golden Gate Park.

It’s the first venture of its kind in the park and the latest example of how The City’s largest plot of open space is one of the Recreation and Park Department’s chief canvasses for revenue sources.

The balls, kites, water bottles and other knickknacks would be sold near the park’s main entrance on John F. Kennedy Drive and could generate $20,000 annually, according to Rec and Park.

The idea is just one of several moneymaking pitches the department is working on this year to supplement the $3.7 million generated annually by Golden Gate Park, which is about 15 percent of Rec and Park’s annual revenue. It costs $11.7 million a year to operate the park.

“The request for proposals that you see are all focused on trying to raise some revenue so we don’t have to lay off more staff, so we can keep our parks clean and safe,” said Rec and Park General Manager Phil Ginsburg. “Remember that every dollar that we’re able to raise through site-appropriate amenities in our parks is one less dollar that we have to cut.”

This year, Rec and Park also is hoping to profit off bike kiosks ($130,000), Segway tours ($35,000) and a restaurant in the Millwrights Cottage ($80,000). The department is still mulling other ideas, such as campouts.

However, Golden Gate Park Preservation Alliance member Kathy Howard wondered if Rec and Park will ever draw the line.

“Our parks are created to contrast our surrounding city, which is commercial, but the parkland is supposed to be a respite from that,” Howard said. “We’re kind of selling the baby to buy the clothes.”

The 104-year-old baby has run a $90 million tab for improvements in the past decade — 11 percent of Rec and Park’s capital-improvement funds. And most of it is money from gifts, grants or bonds secured specifically for the park.

“I think [Golden Gate Park] is at least a quarter of our park property,” said Katie Petrucione, Rec and Park director of administration and finance. “We’re spending less [on the park] in terms of a comparison.”

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Kamala Kelkar

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Thursday, Feb 26, 2015

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