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Could an Overlooked Cove in San Francisco’s Bayview Become the Next Golden Gate Park?

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San Francisco's Recreation and Park Department envisions a waterfront park that will connect several open spaces, with India Basin in the Bayview as its focal point. (San Francisco Recreation and Park Department)

This is part of our ongoing series about where taxpayer funds from 2016's Measure AA to restore the San Francisco Bay are going. Find all the stories here.

Some of San Francisco's most iconic parks including Golden Gate Park and Crissy Field only came about after years of planning and fundraising.

Now, with a boost from Measure AA tax money, city officials are looking to build San Francisco's next great park in a neighborhood you might not expect.

The heart of the park would be in a cove in the Bayview Hunter’s Point district called India Basin that looks out onto the San Francisco Bay. The shoreline here was historically used as a shipbuilding yard, says San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department general manager Phil Ginsburg.

“This is where the scow schooner boats were built and maintained,” Ginsburg said. "And it’s where goods moved along the bay.”

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But its days as a shipbuilding yard are long gone. Ginsburg says the area, now referred to by its address 900 Innes, was abandoned for more than a decade before the city bought the property in 2014 with a vision to create The India Basin Waterfront Park. Plans for the park would connect the Indian Basin shoreline to a neighboring city park and open space, ultimately creating an 8-acre waterfront park.

The former site of a shipbuilding yard in the Bayview will be the heart of a new waterfront park.
The former site of a shipbuilding yard in the Bayview will be the heart of a new waterfront park. (Tiffany Camhi/KQED)

Ginsburg says there’s currently a dearth of outdoor recreation areas in the Bayview.

“A big focus of this project is to create access points and connections to welcome the neighborhoods that you see up the hill into the park,” Ginsburg said. “We're very cognizant of our responsibility to create a park for those who are living here now, not just those who might move here in the future.”

After more than 20 community meetings, Ginsburg says what people in the Bayview want are green spaces to gather and barbecue, a place to exercise, and trails along the bay.

Another huge concern from the community is water quality. After more than a century of industrial use, India Basin's shoreline has become severely degraded with debris like creosote logs, discarded tires and contaminants like metal, oil and PCBs.

That's where Measure AA comes in.

The San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority is proposing to spend $5 million to help get the first phase of this park project off the ground. Kelly Malinowski, a project manager with the restoration authority, says the money will go towards the cleanup and restoration of the India Basin cove.

“This is the first important step to kind of cap everything so we can have a safe place for both wildlife habitat as well as humans,” Malinowski said.

Debris like these broken concrete piers and abandoned structures have to be cleared. (Tiffany Camhi/KQED)

Once restored, Malinowski says the area has the potential to be prime habitat for animals on land and in the bay, and Ginsburg, with the city’s parks department, says environmental health is a primary goal for the park project.

“The theme for this park is that we want it to be something for everyone,” Ginsburg said. “And it starts with our responsibility to the land and to the habitat.”

The Measure AA money for this project has not yet been approved by the restoration authority, but according to Malinowski, it is expected to pass at the agency’s next meeting on Sept. 21.

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