Park camp-out proposed to generate revenue

It could be legal to camp in Golden Gate Park this year, just not for free.

The slumber party is one among several ideas brewing in the Recreation and Park Department to raise money and focus on generating
revenue instead of making $9 million in cuts to its $33.4 million general fund operating budget.

“It’d be kind of like a summer camp,” Rec and Park Project Manager Lev Kushner said. “It’s an idea I stole from New York. They have a camp-out with parents and children, and then maybe a bonfire, a constellation identification walk or a campfire cookout.”

Ideas like this are the types the department is trying to generate more often.

“We have so much untapped potential,” Rec and Park General Manager Phil Ginsburg said. “I’m less interested in fee increases. The ‘Peter Pan’ show deal was made by one employee making about $80,000.”

Ginsburg has created a three-person moneymaking team to flush out the ideas and other possibilities, such as corporate sponsorships, holding flea markets and flipping more events like the “Peter Pan” show, which is netting the department $315,000 in permits alone.

Nicole Avril is the leader of the team. As the partnerships and resource development director, her job description is to oversee work on corporate and philanthropic partnerships, concessions, real estate, special events and marketing.

Avril was most recently the executive director of the Geneva Car Barn and Power House. She created a campaign plan to raise about $13 million for the restoration of the space. Avril begins her new position this month.

The camp-out idea is something Ginsburg has been conceptualizing since a Thanksgiving trip to New York, where he said the Big Apple has a team of about 70 people doing the same thing for its open spaces.

Details are still being ironed out — like where the camping would occur — but Rec and Park plans to start with at least a pilot program this year.

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