Old parks could get new perks

Sweeping plans for some of the Bay Area’s most famous coastal areas could bring historic streetcars to Fort Mason, hotel facilities to Alcatraz and signs so hikers will no longer get lost at Land’s End.

Caretakers for the region’s national coastal parks — including 16 sites in San Francisco and seven in San Mateo County — are weighing whether to spend the next 20 years boosting visitor perks at those parks, focusing on conservation or playing up park goers’ experience of history, including what it was like to be a prisoner on The Rock.

Leaders with the Golden Gate National Recreation Area are close to picking one of those options after sifting through months of input from local residents in Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo counties, according to planning chief Nancy Hornor.

A draft of the 20-year plan is due this fall, but leaders will share ideas Thursday at the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association.

“The identity of San Francisco is completely intertwined with the identity of [these parks],” said Gabriel Metcalf, executive director of SPUR. “The job is to figure out how to … preserve resources while connecting people to them.”

At Fort Mason, connecting visitors with the former military installation could include extending the F-Market line another mile and adding water shuttles that take guests to nearby ferries — as well as restoring Pier 4 for ferries that would take riders to Alcatraz, Hornor said.

“The streetcar plan is still preliminary — funding sources would have to be identified,” Muni spokeswoman Kristen Holland said.

At Alcatraz, everyday prison-goers could order and eat hot food — or even stay the night — for the first time, according to Hornor.

At Ocean Beach, the GGNRA is looking at adding public restrooms and parking, as well as improving walking access from the Cliff House all the way to Sloat Boulevard.

Kishore Hari, a member of the Ocean Beach Foundation, said adding amenities to attract visitors ultimately benefits the beach.

“The more people are present out there, the more stewardship you’ll end up having,” Hari said.

For the first time, the GGNRA is mapping out long-term plans at its newly acquired parks in San Mateo County, including Thornton Beach and Sweeney Ridge.

The historic greenhouses at Shelldance Nursery could be converted to visitor space, while the agency hopes to provide public access to the horse ranch at Rancho Corral de Tierra, Hornor said.


Parks could boost visitor perks

In the next 20 years, the region’s national parks could see a surge in visitor perks. Some of the ideas:

Fort Mason
Extend F-Market historic streetcar line into Fort Mason
Water shuttle from park to nearby ferries

Ocean Beach
Add restrooms
Add parking

Fort Funston
Add picnic areas
Add warming hut, where visitors buy hot food, browse park-related bookstore

Overnight hostel or hotel stays for visitors
Restaurant or café where visitors can buy hot food

Land’s End
Restore and add trails, as well as signs so hikers don’t get disoriented

Fort Miley
Improved camping facilities, picnic areas and vehicle and trail access

Shelldance Nursery
Convert historic greenhouses to visitor center and amenities, as well as native-plant nursery

Rancho Corral de Tierra
Improve public access to historic horse ranch
Add picnic areas and warming hut, where visitors can escape the chill

Source: Golden Gate National Recreation Area