GG Park horse stable needs cash for renovation 

There’s about a month left to lay eyes on a 5,000-square-foot equestrian icon in Golden Gate Park before it’s put out to pasture.

The Golden Gate Park horse stable’s grandstand, built in 1909 for what was supposed to be the world’s largest stadium, will be demolished within 60 days to start the crawl toward the arena’s expansion project. It comes nearly a decade after commissioners voted to close the public facility and talk overhaul.

The $117,140 already raised through private donations and state funds pays for the demolition, which could begin the process of nearly doubling the deserted arena’s size — from about 8,500 square feet to about 15,800 square feet — or it could be its dead end.

It took nearly six years for commissioners to pass an environmental impact report for its renovation after closing the Equestrian Center’s doors, and that was with help from nonprofit San Francisco Parks Trust.

Then in 2008, the nonprofit made an agreement with Recreation and Park Department officials to help raise money for the project, estimated to cost at least $8.3 million at the time.

Now, said Karen Kidwell, executive director of the nonprofit, that’s in danger.

“We didn’t find the right kind of interest in the community to fund the project, partly with the economy and also for a variety of other factors,” Kidwell said. “We don’t have any current plans for it. It’s a big deal to raise that kind of money.”

It also comes at a time when Rec and Park is planning to lay off about 40 of its approximate 850 employees, among other solutions for Mayor Gavin Newsom’s mandated $12.4 million cut to its $33.4 million budget.

The renovation of the lunchtime hot spot has been highly anticipated.

Outer Sunset district resident Diane Garfield said she remembers when the doors closed in 2001 after keeping her horses there for decades.

“I find it really sad that the stable is still sitting empty,” she said. “I walk by it almost every day. I really support renovating it.”

But Garfield also said given the project’s staggered timeline and the state of the economy now, she wishes Rec and Park would let it stand until more money is secured.

“It’s just another example of tearing something down and leaving a hole,” she said.

kkelkar@sfexaminer.com

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