The City hopes a big donation will attract more philanthropy to San Francisco’s largest park project in a century, as it awaits approval of a plan to clean up the site’s contamination.
The Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee approved a $25 million gift Wednesday from the John Pritzker Family Fund to help develop the 10-acre park site, which includes the 2.4-acre 900 Innes Ave. property that was used as a boat manufacturing and repair facility for more than 120 years.
The City purchased the contaminated property in 2014 and plans to combine it with the existing India Basin Shoreline Park. A plan to clean up the site is pending approval.
The donation was formally announced in March by Mayor London Breed. The full board is expected to approve the gift next week.
But the total project cost is $120 million and there remains a gap of tens of millions of dollars.
Nicole Avril, director of Recreation and Park Department’s capital partnerships, told the committee they are planning to fund 50 percent of the project through private donations.
Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, who said he supports the project, raised concerns about what would happen if the project went over budget or if The City couldn’t raise the needed funding from private donors.
“I want us to be mindful of the great park needs that this growing city has and make sure that going forward that we are actually identifying sources of revenue that are sufficient to pay for those needs and I am a little bit concerned that a $255 million bond that we are currently planning for next year is not going to get us the funds that we need to invest in our parks,” Mandelman said.
The City’s 10-year capital plan calls for a $255 million parks and open space general obligation bond for the November 2020 ballot. The capital plan notes that the 900 Innes project “is a candidate for partial funding.”
Avril expressed confidence more private donations would come.
“We have seen that a leadership gift like this, and this is the largest single gift that the department has ever received, does tend to inspire other philanthropically minded individuals to invest,” Avril said.
The City has identified $15.8 million in funding from local state and federal sources. With the $25 million gift, that leaves an $80 million gap, according to a budget analyst report.
Meanwhile, the department’s plan to clean up the site was recently submitted for review to the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board. The cleanup is expected to start in spring of 2020.
Studies of the former shipbuilding site during the past seven years “have indicated that elevated concentrations of metals, total petroleum hydrocarbons, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and polychlorinated biphenyls, are present in soil and sediment,” the plan said.
The plan calls for a removal of the contaminated sediments and soils several feet deep. “Soil and sediment removal will be followed by backfilling with Clean Cover, restoring final surface grades which are close to their original levels and consistent with final site use goals,” the plan said.
Jackie Flynn, executive director of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, a Bayview nonprofit, emphasized the importance of transforming the site into a public space.
“I just want to remind you that this parcel of land has been neglected for many years,” Flynn said. “It is abandoned, it is vacant and what does that say to our youth and families that live there, what does that say to the generations that have watched it be nothing?”
The City expects to complete the project in phases by 2025 or 2026.