Connecting Alcatraz Island to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area — including Fort Mason and Muir Woods — is one possibility for the National Park Service as it looks to find a more permanent home for the popular ferry service.
The current contract expires in 2016, and park service officials say they would rather create a permanent facility instead of relocating every 10 years, regardless of the company providing ferry service. The ferry has been located at Pier 31½ on The Embarcadero since 2006, and that space also will be considered as a permanent location.
“It has to really fit San Francisco and the complexity of the things on the northern waterfront,” Brian Aviles, senior planner for the Park Service, said of the permanent location. “We’re just beginning now and we’re doing our homework.”
Locations such as Fort Mason and piers 41½ and 43½ also are being considered.
The location could offer expanded service to Sausalito, Muir Woods and the Marin Headlands, Aviles said, all of which will be explored in the environmental review.
“We have aspirations to take people to Fort Baker and the Marin Headlands,” Aviles said. “We’re evaluating the fishing pier we have at Fort Baker and what it would take to bring ferry service there. It could be a part of the Alcatraz embarkation.”
But neighborhood groups and merchants associations said they hope to keep the ferry service near the heart of the established Fisherman’s Wharf tourist area.
Ariel Ungerleider, president of the Marina Community Association, said the Marina neighborhood is concerned The City’s role will be completely eliminated if a federal study is completed and not a state environmental report.
The estimated 1.5 million visitors to Alcatraz annually will have an impact on neighborhood parking, transit and crime, as well as the entertainment already taking place at Fort Mason, Ungerleider said.
“Ideally, for the neighborhood, they’d drop Fort Mason,” she said. “It’s like putting a square peg in a round hole.
Fort Mason, if ultimately chosen, is more than a mile from the wharf. Merchants there said moving ferry service could be a problem for the area.
Troy Campbell, executive director with the Fisherman’s Wharf Community Benefit District, said in a perfect world, the ferry service would remain close to the wharf.
“In the middle of the wharf is more advantageous,” he said. “We’ve got the infrastructure to deal with thousands of people. We’d hate to see it put anywhere else.”
The locations will be examined through a federal environmental review, expected to be released by fall 2013.