Bucks from bond to boost bayfront

From India Basin to Heron’s Head Park, San Francisco’s waterfront is dotted with islands of open space. Now, a new infusion of cash will help pave the way for more than 13 miles of new trails, which could open the door for a renaissance along the bayfront.

Funds from a voter-approved bond measure that become available in September will go toward a bevy of projects that supporters say could leverage private funding to boost a renaissance on Port of San Francisco land from Pier 43 to Candlestick Point.

Creating public spaces along Port property should hasten San Francisco’s waterfront renewal, said Gabriel Metcalf, executive director at the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association, a public policy think tank.

“The Port should be a linear public space lined with attractions,” Metcalf said. “[Historically] it’s been very walled off, because the old industrial waterfront needed to keep people away.”

Because of the new money, work can now begin on linking Pier 43 with the San Francisco Bay Trail and on the massive Blue Greenway, a 13-mile stretch of trails and bike paths from McCovey Cove to Candlestick Point. 

“I’m just thrilled,” said Isabel Wade, executive director of the Neighborhood Parks Council and longtime supporter of the Blue
Greenway, which has been in the works for five years. “The $1.7 million won’t go too far, but we view it as seed money that would help attract private money.”

Estimates for the full greenway range from $13 million to nearly $100 million. In total, it will receive $22.1 million from the park bond, according to Recreation and Park Department documents.

Pier 43 improvements — which will see a total of $7.8 million from the park bond — include removing piers and repairing the sea wall, as well as building a new public promenade near Fisherman’s Wharf.

“We’re so desperate for any kind of open space,” said Vedica Puri, co-chair of the Telegraph Hill Dwellers’ waterfront committee. “Our district has the densest population and the least amount of open space.”

The first $42.5 million of $185 million in neighborhood-park bonds, approved by voters in February, went for sale this month.

Next month’s bond funds will also contribute $14.2 million toward renovations at the Chinese Recreation Center, $4.3 million for city playing fields and $3.7 million for renovations at Palega Playground.

bwinegarner@sfexaminer.com

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