Recreation and Park Department recently wrapped up the construction of
a new fishing pier on South Lake near the Impound Bridge.
According to Rec & Park records, more than $1.5 million has been
spent on this pier. $400,000 of that amount came from State
funds as a result of an action by then outgoing Assemblyman Kevin
Shelley. We have not been advised as to the source for the
The result is frankly a disaster. A very large amount of money
that could have been much better spent has been used to restore a
fishing pier on a lake with few fish and fewer fishermen.
Perhaps even more important, the project contained several serious
design flaws. Some of those will be described below. Much
of this can be attributed to inadequate public oversight. Despite
repeated requests, there was no public review of this project before
its construction. The Recreation Committee of the Lake Merced
Task Force assumed responsibility for this review; the Rec & Park Project Status Report
states that "On-going plan development review (is provided) by the Lake
Merced Task Force." This is a clear example of how seriously
things can go astray if one community group attempts to act on behalf
of the community rather than as a vehicle to assure the fullest
possible community participation.
Here are a few of the problems:
The positioning of the fishing pier places it deep inside a bed of
tules. While those might be cleared in the vicinity of the pier,
no coordination of this action with the natural areas and bird habitat
advocates has been provided.
bright metal finish is totally inconsistent with the natural
setting. Requests by nearby residents that the pier be finished
with some dark tone more appropriate to the setting have been ignored.
Yep, it's shiny and new. How would you like to drop a line in
Well, at least the ramp to the pier looks nice, a little like a
railroad bridge, don't you think?
As you can see, when the ramps to the pier were built all ground cover
was cleared from the site. Heavy boulders were placed along the
path, again a design not consistent with the natural setting.
Criss-crossing ramps and steps bordered by handrails mounted on redwood
posts created a busy and confusing perspective.
course netting was intended to prevent erosion.
can see, that didn't work. With the first hard rain the earth
collapsed, and the boulders poured into the resulting chasm.
That is of course the most serious problem. But there are others.
Some of our members refer to
this as the Pigeon Poop Picnic Park! We're not so alliterate,
but we see what they mean. Nothing has been done to keep the
birds, and their poop, off the tables.
There are lovely scenic
views from this location. That is, unless you place the scenic
bench right behind a tree! Here's the view you'll find from this
There was inadequate site
preparation, with the result that a serious condition of litter and
polution remains at the site.
Space allocated to parking
needs to be minimized. In a one way parking lot diagonal parking,
rather than perpendicular parking, minimizes the space requirements,
but is also safer and easier to use.
A perpetual problem:
While it's nice to have stylish new litter bins, it doesn't help much
if the litter isn'e collected.
And were it not just one
more thing, this one might even be considered a little funny.
Here's a larger version of the port-o-potty you see in the far right
side of the parking lot:
They've managed to squeeze this into the redwood shed now, but it
doesn't seem that they can get the shed's doors reinstalled.
Anyone want to buy Rec & Park a tape measure?
went wrong here? Several things:
An allocation of funds was
made, in the amount $1,370,000 of which $400,000 were State funds,
without review by community
representatives assuring that this is a high priority, and without any
opportunity to divert the funds to more worthwhile projects.
The Recreation and Park
Department insisted on proceeding with this project, over our
objection, apparently on the grounds that you've got to spend State
money if you have State money. This in spite of the fact that
there are almost no fish, and fewer fishermen, at Lake Merced.
The project was designed without
public review or input. The Lake
Merced Task Force
Recreation Committee provided some input to the design, but was unable
to follow up with effective "on-going plan development review" as
described by the Rec & Park Project Status Report.
The resulting design is totally
out of character for the area, does not enhance the natural setting,
and will be an intrusive eyesore for years to come. Furthermore,
even if there were fish a fisherman couldn't fish here as the fishing
pier has been located in the midst of a field of Tules.
To minimize the chances for a
repeat of this performance, two actions are urgently needed:
projects should be subjected to thorough public review. Despite
repeated requests, no public review was provided for this
Lake Merced Task Force, acting on behalf of the community, failed to
provide adequate oversight.
Similarly, all projects should be provided professional peer
After repeated performance of this type it seems clear that the
Recreation and Park staff does not have adequate credential to complete
projects of this sort without such assistance.