Golden Gate Park Music Concourse drains park funds 

Funds continue to flow into an overdue and overbudget project at the Music Concourse, draining money that could be allocated to other projects in Golden Gate Park.

The century-old concourse, which sits between the de Young Museum and the California Academy of Sciences, has been under construction intermittently for five years, with the tab for the work running more than $12 million.

The recurring construction also plagues the open space as an eyesore to the approximately 1.5 million annual visitors to the de Young Museum and the 3 million people who have visited the Academy of Sciences since it opened in September 2008.

The latest project to fix four historic fountains now needs an additional $100,000. When construction began, the Recreation and Park Department initially said the drains just needed to be cleaned. But during demolition, the department found that the drainage system surrounding the fountains was malfunctioning, according to Sarah Ballard, Policy and Public Affairs director for Rec and Park. The additional money is also funding construction of a filtration system, Rec and Park spokesman Elton Pon said.

To make matters worse, the project is also facing delays. The new drainage system must be designed at least a foot around a century-old water line, according to Rec and Park, which will delay the construction for another two weeks — wrapping it up in May.

The new funding request comes on top of a slew of other costs being racked up by Concourse improvements. About $9 million was poured into projects in 2005 for upgrades, including waterproofing and retrofitting the sandstone stage on the west side. After parts of the band shell’s roof started falling, Rec and Park launched an additional $1.6 million project to secure it from further damage.

However, the running tab has raised eyebrows on the Golden Gate Concourse Authority Board — a seven-member, voter-initiated board whose members are appointed by the mayor and started meeting in 1999.

“I can’t think of a time it’s ever been audited,” member John Rizzo said, who has sat on the board since it started. “That contract should have been put out for bid.”

The money is almost all coming from a $32,673,000 grant for 14 capital projects in Golden Gate Park, which also provided at least $1.5 million to renovate the Murphy Windmill and at least $1.2 million for the Millwright’s Cottage.

The project has received the most money from Proposition 40, with the $7 million Rec and Park headquarters — McLaren Lodge at 401 Stanyan St. — at a close second.

But Rec and Park cannot give the construction company the money until the Golden Gate Concourse Authority agrees to spend it, which will be an item on its next agenda, tentatively scheduled for Thursday.


Recurring construction

Projects at the Music Concourse in Golden Gate Park have cost millions of dollars during the past five years, using the most Proposition 40 funding:

Music Concourse renovation: $9 million

Furnishing for Concourse: $515,000

Band shell renovation: $1.6 million

Renovation of four fountains: $1.1 million

Total cost: $12.2 million

Source: Recreation and Park Department

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