Recreation area would be legacy of Olympics facilities at former naval shipyard
Plans for a world-class waterfront park are in the works for one of the most toxic parcels of a former Navy shipyard in Hunters Point — and San Francisco’s shot at hosting the 2016 Olympics could accelerate the project since city officials hope to hold some of the international sporting event within the new recreation area.
Four park options were unveiled at City Hall on Tuesday, ranging from a modest 60-acre park with restored wetlands, a boardwalk, grassy areas and a few structures such as a small bandstand to a 167-acre proposal that would build upon the smaller-park premise by adding sports fields, museums, restaurants, hotels and spaces large enough for concerts and fairs.
San Francisco is on a short list of contenders — along with Chicago and Los Angeles — under consideration by the U.S. Olympic Committee to bid internationally for the 2016 summer games. If San Francisco won the international competition to host the prestigious sporting event, federal dollars would become available to support the development of the park, said Michael Cohen, director of base reuse and development for The City.
San Francisco’s Olympic proposal also includes building rental apartments at the former shipyard that would first be used to house the athletes, as well as staging the opening and closing ceremonies at a rebuilt 49ers stadium.
“We have talked about locating the center of many of the activities around both Candlestick and Hunters Point shipyard, in part, in fact largely, to bring additional federal resources,” Cohen said. “If we are successful in becoming the U.S. bid city, we think it will accelerate the pace of development necessary to make this park possible.”
Putting a public park at the former shipyard will also require extensive cleanup by the Navy, since the land is highly polluted with contaminates, including radium with low-level radioactive wastes, solvents, metals, petroleum products and highly toxic polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, according to Arc Ecology, a nonprofit agency focused on environmental responsibility that has been hired to assist with the transformation of the shipyard.
Although the entire 500-acre shipyard is slated for redevelopment, the work is being completed in parcels, with housing and commercial development under construction on the first 66-acre area. The master developer for the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard project is Lennar Corp., which is under contract for the possible redevelopment of the 49ers stadium and surrounding property.
According to Arc Ecology official Eve Bach, the parcel on which the park would be built, Parcel E, “has some of the worst contamination of the shipyard,” and “we know the cleanup is going to be a major issue there.”
Supervisor Sophie Maxwell, whose district includes the Hunters Point area, said residents of the area have been clamoring for a local park with the prestige and amenities found in recreation areas in other parts of The City.
By proposing to integrate the redevelopment of Hunters Point Naval Shipyard within the Olympic bid, San Francisco has fulfilled one of the requirements of U.S. Olympic officials — to use the sporting event to leave behind a legacy that benefits the community. For the impoverished southeast area, the Olympic bid has provided leverage to move redevelopment effortsforward.
“I think a lot of things we want to do can be accelerated through this process,” Maxwell said. “When people [visiting for the Olympics] are gone, the community needs to be better off. People will know that this area of San Francisco, the Bayview, that’s where they had the Olympics.”