SFPUC to vote on $22M cleanup at Pacific Rod and Gun Club site

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is scheduled to vote today on a $22 million project to clean up contaminants along Lake Merced, an effort that would force the longtime tenant, Pacific Rod and Gun Club, to vacate its premises indefinitely.

The project's environmental review calls for removing soil contaminated by lead pellets and clay pigeons used by the club prior to 1994, when it switched to more environmentally friendly alternatives, such as nontoxic steel shots and biodegradable targets, according to the commission.

The club's lease, set to expire Dec. 31, was taken over by the SFPUC in 2012 with the intent to clean the contaminated area around the lake by 2016 per an order from the Regional Water Quality Control Board. A preliminary mitigated negative declaration, an environmental study, was completed in June.

“That cleanup is definitely necessary for the site,” SFPUC spokesman Tyrone Jue said. “This is something we've known about for quite some time.”

Once the cleanup is complete, the gun club will have the opportunity — along with other neighborhood and community groups — to present a lease plan for the site, Jue said.

But gun club officials are hopeful the club can reopen following the yearlong project and want to arrange such an agreement prior to vacating the site. The four main skeet fields and four main outbuildings have been designated as historic resources, which essentially preserves the core of the facility, said Patrick Gilligan, the club's president.

“Before cleanup starts, we want to negotiate for us to come back now,” Gilligan said. “We're more than willing to accommodate other uses on the site and be more diverse and really continue to make this a great facility.”

The gun club, believed to be the only outdoor shooting range in a major metropolitan area in the U.S., first opened at Lake Merced in 1934. The site of the gun club has about 11 usable acres and 14 acres overall, making it the watershed's largest area of flat land outside TPC Harding Park, The City's premier golf course.

The club's shooting facilities include six skeet fields, three trap fields, five-stand sporting clays, a duck tower and an indoor small-bore rifle range. The area also has a clubhouse and banquet facility, a caretaker house, restrooms and parking.

On Thursday, the Planning Commission rejected an appeal from the club that sought to block cleanup by requesting an expanded environmental impact report on the project, and simultaneously approved the mitigated negative declaration that allows for the cleanup project to proceed.

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