Music Concourse awaits progress 

Park advocates want more for their beloved Music Concourse.

After a $12.4 million renovation to The City’s first historic landscape in Golden Gate Park, the pavement area behind the bandshell now looks like something of a drab afterthought.

The area is about one-third the size of the concourse, but it’s mostly asphalt, a bunch of lead, folding chairs and tables lined with a few eucalyptus trees and a drop-off spot that vans and trucks usually use more than pedestrians.

The concourse links the California Academy of Sciences and de Young museum, attracting thousands of visitors every day. And after five years of prolonged and over-budget restoration, it hit its renovation crescendo in September when the fences came down and the fountains ran for the first time in decades, closing a running tab of $12.4 million.

But the area behind the bandshell, which is also landmarked, did not get a makeover.

“Given all the wonderful improvements in the concourse area, upgrading the area behind the bandshell is certainly of interest,” said Recreation and Park Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg.

Park officials recently permitted an upscale Indian food vendor with a clay oven to park its trailer there along with a Segway concession stand. That is in addition to two other food carts in the area — Sam’s Chowder House and Annie’s Hot Dogs.

So now they say it is time for a pedestrian plaza to make the area sparkle.

The Golden Gate Park Master Plan that was published a decade ago also suggests creating a “landscaped plaza with café with seating and food service carts.”

However, with every park project, change comes with a price tag — and park officials have not secured any money for it and do not have a proposed budget or renderings of the desired work.

The bandshell sat in plastic wrap for more than a year while park officials secured money to fix its cracked sandstone.

Longtime Golden Gate Park Preservation Alliance member Kathy Howard, who has watched the evolution of the concourse, said, “I don’t think anybody disagrees” that park officials should at least come up with some renderings to secure funds.

“It’s hard to get money for something if you can’t show what it will look like,” she said.

Howard said that since the area is part of a landmark — built in 1894 for the California Midwinter Exhibition of 1894 — The City should enlist the help of preservationists.

“It would really raise the level of what people see,” she said.

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Kamala Kelkar

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Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015


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