money.jpgSan Francisco’s Neighborhood Parks Council has been awarded $175,000 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to heighten community involvement in the planning of a 13-mile network of parks and trails along the city’s southeast shore.

The funding is another step in making the network, called the Blue Greenway, into “the Crissy Field of the east” San Francisco shoreline, said Meredith Thomas, the executive director of the council, a nonprofit that advocates for parks in the city.

Thomas joined Jared Blumenfeld, administrator of the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region, and San Francisco Supervisor Sophie Maxwell at a ceremony at the city’s Warm Water Cove Park Wednesday morning to celebrate the funding.

The money will be used to generate a plan with the community to address how to remedy and transform between 5 and 10 “brownfields,” areas along the Blue Greenway that contain industrial waste and toxins, Thomas said.

While some projects in the Blue Greenway network are being funded by Proposition A, a parks bond passed by city voters in February 2008, the EPA funding will allow the council to “convene stakeholders, neighbors, and all area nonprofits, and zero in on places that are not currently planned for,” Thomas said.

“The Port of San Francisco has funding (from the bonds) for several areas, but if we don’t connect them between what the port is working on, we’ll have a checkerboard,” she said.

Once the council and the various parties decide on several brownfields to target, analysis can be done to determine the toxicity of the sites, and identify potential funding sources and plans to redevelop them.

The council has advocated since 2003 to create a “green” corridor along the eastern shoreline of San Francisco that would compare to the scenic sights that draw residents and tourists to other parts of the city.

“In San Francisco, one of most marked characteristics is our shoreline, and it all should be available for use,” Thomas said.

Mayor Gavin Newsom issued a statement praising the support of the EPA for the project.
“This grant brings us another step closer towards realizing our vision of 13 miles of majestic waterfront parks and trails,” Newsom said.

Thomas said there is no specific target date yet for when the entire network will be finished.

“We’ll spend the next decade or so” working on it, she said. “When you have 13 miles of waterfront, it is expensive and hard to figure out where to go next.”

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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