Workers whittle away at the Pacific Rod and Gun Club Upland Soil Remedial Action Project at the west shore of Lake Merced. The club closed in April to allow the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to conduct a yearlong $22 million cleanup. (Mike Koozmin/S.F. Examiner)

SF ready to vet new tenants for former Pacific Rod and Gun Club site

San Francisco is ready to begin the process of choosing a new tenant for a 14-acre site along Lake Merced previously occupied by the Pacific Rod and Gun Club for eight decades.

The Operations Committee of the Recreation and Park Commission next week will be asked to authorize the Rec and Park Department to issue a request for proposals for a 20-year lease of Lake Merced West, the watershed’s largest area of flat land outside TPC Harding Golf Course. The full commission will then weigh in on issuing the requests for proposals on Dec. 17.

The gun club, which opened at the site in 1934, closed last April to allow the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to conduct a yearlong $22 million cleanup. The SFPUC owns the land, the Rec and Park Department manages recreation at Lake Merced.

With that effort about halfway done, The City wants select a new tenant by next summer with the goal of lease approval by the Board of Supervisors the following spring.

The cleanup involves removing soil contaminated by lead pellets and clay pigeons used at the club prior to 1994, when the club switched to nontoxic steel shots and biodegradable targets, more environmentally friendly alternatives.

Two requirements for applicants listed in the draft request for proposals include at least five years’ experience fully managing a business of similar nature, and demonstrated successful completion of at least two development projects of similar size and scope.

City officials are also encouraging applicants to consider activities that take advantage of the location, like offering opportunities for fishing, boating, picnic areas, hiking trails, access to natural areas and ecological education.

The new tenant will also likely have to incorporate the four main skeet fields and four main outbuildings at the site, which have been designated as historic resources.

Patrick Gilligan, the most recent president of the Pacific Rod and Gun Club, said the club itself will not submit a proposal for the site. However, a group of past directors and members of the club have banded together with around a dozen organizations to put together a new plan for the site that involves a variety of outdoor activities.

“It’s heartbreaking to say that, but this is definitely a newly thought-out facility with multiple coalition partners who want to see it become a reality,” Gilligan said.

Under the group’s vision, the site would be called Lake Merced Outdoor Center. Activities would include rowing, archery, gardening, and a ropes course. There would also be some historical elements, venue space and a food and beverage operation, Gilligan said.

There would be some skeet shooting as well, but with a “dramatic reduction” in the number of shooting fields and a different schedule to better accommodate the neighborhood and other activities, he added. The facility would also be open seven days a week per the plan, while the gun club was only open three days a week.

“Shooting is definitely still a priority of folks that are working on this,” Gilligan said. But, he added, “This isn’t the gun club, it’s something entirely new… and [it] truly could be a magnificent facility if it was to come to fruition.”

It’s unknown how many other groups will submit proposals for the site, which will be due May 6.

“Eleven acres of relatively flat waterfront land is a unique opportunity in San Francisco,” said Rec and Park spokeswoman Sarah Madland, referring to the usable acres at the 14-acre site. “We’re looking forward to seeing the proposals.”

Workers whittle away at the Pacific Rod and Gun Club Upland Soil Remedial Action Project at the west shore of Lake Merced. The club closed in April of 2014 to allow the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to conduct a yearlong $22 million cleanup.

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Workers whittle away at the Pacific Rod and Gun Club Upland Soil Remedial Action Project at the west shore of Lake Merced. The club closed in April of 2015 to allow the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to conduct a yearlong $22 million cleanup. (Mike Koozmin/S.F. Examiner)

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