Plan to open Golden Gate horse stables early stalls

An attempt to speed the reconstruction of San Francisco's only horse stables could not get out of the gate Monday.

Representatives from the Recreation and Park Department who are overseeing the reconstruction of the Golden Gate Park Stables said it would be difficult to move up the scheduled 2009 reopening of the stables because of a list of factors that are not in the department's control.

The stables, built in the early 1900s, were closed in 2001 because the site needed repairs and the agency contracted by The City to operate the stalls said it was difficult to make a profit.

The reconstruction project, which does not havea design at this point, needs another $2.6 million in funding. The City has $1.5 million of Proposition 40 funds, a 2002 bond measure passed to improve state and local parks, and those funds are already allocated to the reconstruction project, according Recreation and Park Department General Manager Yomi Agunbiade.

The San Francisco Parks Trust, a citizen organization working to improve The City's parks, and the San Francisco Stables Foundation, created to help reopen the stables, have committed to help The City raise the remainder of the money.

San Francisco used to be home to 22 horse stables, according to Berthille Legrand of the San Francisco Horseman's Association. She said the Golden Gate Park Stables is the sole remaining horse facility in The City and since it was shut down, she has been directing parents who want to their children to learn horseback riding to Marin County or the Peninsula.

An environmental impact review on the project will be completed by May 2007, according to Agunbiade. The environmental review is a time-consuming process because it must ensure the parts of the stables that are designated as historic landmarks are not disturbed. Once completed, The City can begin to design the new site. Construction is scheduled to begin in August 2008, and the stables would open a year later. Mary Hobson, with the Recreation and Park Department, said The City possibly could cut four months from the scheduled design period depending on the environmental impact report.

District 1 Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, who is leading the charge to open the stables earlier than scheduled and asked the department to attend a meeting Monday, said a city-run horse stable is important to the community because it gives underprivileged children and at-risk teenagers access to a good “character-forming” activity at a low cost.

sfarooq@examiner.com

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