Thursday, June 12, 2008

New Environmental Impact Study Ignores Objections of the National Park Service and National Trust for Historic Preservation

We have not yet seen a copy of the Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement released by the Presidio Trust to the press before September 9. The long document is posted on the Presidio Trust website. We will soon summarize our analysis here. 

The headline in the San Francisco Chronicle that reported on the new study erroneously stated that "park officials" selected the museum plan. In fact, the Park Service strongly opposes this plan. The reporter made the frequent error of equating the Presidio Trust with the national parks. The Presidio Trust is a Republican-appointed board of business people that have no official relationship to the Park Service: the Trust is an oddity in our national system. It reports only to a subcommittee of Congress, which in practice means that the Presidio Trust has very little oversight at all.

We do know that the new study follows what seems to be a predetermined path to approve the nearly three football fields' worth of new construction in the heart of a National Historic Landmark and a national park belonging to all the people. The study selects as the preferred alternative to build the 100,000 square foot Fisher Contemporary Art Museum and a large hotel in the center of the historic landmark, despite warnings by the National Park Service and the National Trust for Historic Preservation that the actual status of the Presidio as a landmark would be threatened by such construction. The Presidio Trust would ignore such opposition at its peril: these organizations are dedicated by law to preserve national historic landmarks - as is a mission of the Trust itself! If this construction happens, the board members of the Trust would be defying this mandate from Congress.

Stay informed. Our analysis of the new study will be posted on the Presidio Historical Association website,, by June 21. This will give you time to form your own opinions to express at the key public meeting scheduled for July 14 at the Presidio Officers Club. Be There!

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