concourse-dry-fountain.jpgThe music concourse between the Academy of Arts and Sciences and the De Young in Golden Gate Park has been in the midst of a makeover since 2004. The inexplicable attacks on July 21 that killed 15 young elm trees and one sycamore put a damper on the progress. All in all, the park lost 44 trees to the mysterious villain(s). Thankfully, a corporate donor and Outside Lands Music Festival partner came through with a donation of 40 trees and financial support for four years of specialized care. But questions still remain regarding the status of the rest of the renovations, which appears to be running far behind schedule.

In a prepared statement after the tree donation, Rec and Park Dept. General Manager Phil Ginsburg thanked the donor and mentioned how great the concourse will be when the fountains are turned on later this summer. Speaking of the fountains, reader sagitta100 wants to know when the fountains will re-open, considering they were already suppose to be up and running months ago. Last August, Ginsburg wrote on his blog that the fountains should be flowing by Spring 2010.

The project faced delays when the department found that the drainage system surrounding the fountains was malfunctioning. A new drainage system had to be designed at least a foot around a century-old water line. An extra $100,000 in funding was requested as well as two additional weeks to complete construction. The plan was to wrap up in May. Now, it’s mid-August the fountains are still not complete.

Proposition 40, a state bond passed in 2002, provided the majority of funding for the renovations. Golden Gate Park was given a $32,673,000 grant to improve 14 capital projects. About $9 million has gone towards the music concourse.

Some say that the Concourse renovations are draining funds that could be used to make improvements elsewhere. The four fountains were built between 1912 and 1928 and have not had an overhaul since their original construction, with the exception of some minor repairs in the 70s. They have been out of order for six years.

Meanwhile, the concourse has been under construction for six years as well. The renovations have brought bike racks, new light fixtures, drinking fountains, signage, three new acres of open space and a restored music band shell.

Multiple attempts were made to find out the status of the fountains, as we reached out to both Rec and Parks spokesperson Elton Pon and Rick Thall, project manager in charge of the Concourse renovations. Our only response: silence. Well, Parks & Rec, what is the hold up?

Update 8/24: Rec and Parks responds! Here’s what we’ve learned:

The fountains are on and currently being tested. All in all, the project experienced at least nine weeks of delay. Additional drainage work, weather limitations, and unforeseen conditions below the surface extended the amount of time needed to complete everything.

Although the fountains are back on, there is still some work to do to complete the project. According to Elton Pon, the Public Information Officer for Rec and Parks, all the historic features of the fountains will be restored by local artist Manuel Palos. This includes restoring a badly damaged 86 year old sculpture of a cougar wrestling a serpent. The serpent’s head has been missing for at least the last 80 years.

In addition to restoring these elements, a new water system will also be installed. The new system was designed to use potable water without the use of chemical treatment or drainage of water to the sewer after use. In the new system, potable water will be delivered to the fountains, then be pumped into the irrigation mains for a second use as irrigation water. The system will need to be converted over the next few years.

Photo of dry Music Concourse fountain: San Francisco Days

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