At a packed community meeting last Thursday, Lake Merced Recreation unveiled its proposal for a new recreational facility in Lake Merced West, at the former site of the Pacific Rod and Gun Club.
The proposal for the 11-acre site included facilities for water sports, including kayaking, fishing, rowing, and paddleboarding. Other facilities would include a bird-watching observatory, a non-profit bike shop, a farmers market, fitness room, and more.
MoMo's, a full-service restaurant that also operates opposite AT&T Park, would also be present on the site.
The recreational facilities buildout would take place in three phases over four years:
- Stage 1 (completed by Spring 2018): Core facilities and activities would become operational, including the installation of a dock and building other facilities such as a boathouse for kayaks and paddleboards, public restrooms, and a small roadway.
- Stage 2 (completed by Spring 2019): Rehabilitation of the studio fitness room and the building of an open field, yoga platforms, a birding observatory, and group picnic areas.
- Stage 3 (completed by Spring 2020): Installation of three bocce ball courts, community garden plots, amphitheater, and fishing pier. The former Trap House would also be refurbished and converted into the Garden House.
Lake Merced Recreation is a joint venture from two Bay Area-based entrepreneurs, Jay Ganjei of Outback Adventures and Paul Foley of Greener Excavations and Construction. Along with two retail stores in Fremont and Marin, Outback Adventures operates three recreation facilities in the Bay Area: Gallinas Creek in Marin, Stevens Creek Reservoir in Cupertino, and Del Valle Regional Park in Livermore.
Lake Merced Recreation would also partner with a women-owned San Francisco architectural firm, Polytech Associates, and a family-owned general contractor, Rossi Builders.
Challenges for the site included the need for a $15.6 million clean-up of contaminated soil and the replacement of fresh soil. (The soil was contaminated from decades of debris from the clay pigeons and other shooting activities by the site's former tenant, the Pacific Rod and Gun Club). As part of the restoration efforts, native plants were also planted on the wetlands.
"The site is clean," said Obiajulu Nzewi, the SF Public Utilities Commission Project Manager who had overseen the cleanup. (While the site itself is owned by SF Public Utilities Commission, it is managed in conjunction with SF Rec and Parks.) "We're trying to tie up the loose ends that will require us to oversee the site for another year."
However, Nzewi said that contaminated sediment remains in the lake, which creates an environmental threat to ducks and other birds in the area. With over 200 species, Lake Merced is a both a major stop for migratory birds and a habitat for the birds that make it their home year-round.
One of Rec and Park's conditions for a potential developer of the Lake Merced Area was to "not contaminate the site or result in any restrictions on future use of the site."
The community was largely supportive of the proposal. One long-time resident, who said that he had previously been involved with the Lake Merced Task Force, said that he believed that the proposed recreational facility was in line with the vision envisioned by the task force.
However, Patrick Gilligan, president of the Pacific Rod and Gun Club, raised concerns, asking why the Club had not been contacted by Lake Merced West over the proposal. The Club had been the prior tenant of the space from 1934 to 2015.
Ganjei responded that he had been in touch with another member of the club, but had not heard a response. The proposal does not include any facilities for shooting, which have caused the bulk of the contamination in the Lake Merced West area.
SF Recreation and Parks made it clear that they would be bringing the proposal for approval.
"Looking forward, we do plan to bring a recommendation to the SF Rec and Parks and endorse this proposal," said Cassandra Costello, Property Manager of SF Recreation and Parks.
For a detailed look at the proposal from Lake Merced West, the entire proposal can be found here.
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