Lake Merced boathouse renovations revealed

S.F. Examiner File PhotoNow and later: Lake Merced boathouse is being revamped.

S.F. Examiner File PhotoNow and later: Lake Merced boathouse is being revamped.

New plans to revamp the Lake Merced boathouse in an effort to revitalize recreational activities at the site were unveiled Wednesday.

The second floor of the 15,200-square-foot boathouse, which was built in 1958, has been vacant since 2003, when the previous concessionaire left. Despite attempts to bring in other companies to provide services at the facility, the property sat virtually empty until the Recreation and Park Department worked with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to craft a plan to upgrade the building.

The SFPUC’s portion of the renovation work, which will cost just under $1 million, is the first phase of a project to clean up the building, including removing asbestos and lead floor tiles and doing other demolition and cleanup work.

The second phase of the project — which will cost $1 million that will be paid for by Rec and Park using bond money and other funds — will remodel the second floor of the boathouse to make it usable. The initial plans, presented Wednesday during a meeting of the agency’s Capital Committee, will create space for a community room, exercise room, restrooms, Rec and Park office space and a concession area. What will occupy the concession space is still up for debate.

“We will continue to work with the community on what the best use is,” Rec and Park General Manager Phil Ginsburg said of the concession space. “We have heard loud and clear that people are interested in making sure that there are some opportunities to fish again at the lake — something that we would love to see happen.”

The boathouse, which has a first floor that is in use by five rowing clubs that use Lake Merced, has been eyed for an overhaul for years ­— a process that does not sit well with everyone.

Larry Cadagan of the Committee to Save Lake Merced said the project “is a total waste of money,” though he conceded that it should be carried through now that it’s more than halfway completed.

He questioned why the SFPUC and Rec and Park decided to spend $2 million on a building “that is basically a lost cause.”

However, Rec and Park said it’s using the boathouse renovation as a cornerstone for water activities, some of which were added to the department’s summer programs. There also are more activities set for fall, including canoeing, kayaking and paddle boarding.

“We are at a point now that we are very optimistic that we can revitalize the area and return active waterfront recreation, which has been a historical use,” Ginsburg said.

mbillings@sfexaminer.com

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