Saturday, April 04, 2015

The Great Alcatraz Ferry Controversy

Sometimes we have to be reminded that not everything is peace and harmony in California.  We are mostly aloof from the juvenile political concerns of the rest of the world.  But then there are really times when we must make a stand for what is right.

The issue at stake is the Alcatraz ferry service has a lease that is about to expire and the National Park Service which operates the ferries is thinking about a change.  Rather than berthing them at Fisherman's Wharf, they are considering the possibility of using For Mason.  For those of us on the Alcatraz Swim team, this is clearly a catastrophe, since this puts the Aquatic Park where we swim half way between Fisherman's Wharf and the Alcatraz Ferry terminal, thus, our mostly undiscovered part of the waterfront is going to see a never ending tsunami of tourists and similar vermin.  The other key issue is that the new ferry route would cut across the swim path from Alcatraz to San Francisco, creating hazards beyond whatever else is lurking in the water.  The lease that the NPS is seeking is for 50 years.

In the broader context, global warming means that over the next half century the glaciers are going to melt, the earth is going to be inundated, and as Kevin Costner showed in WaterWorld, those of us who choose to evolve will be the survivors of the human race.  Clearly we need to keep the swim lanes open from Alcatraz to San Francisco.  So there you have it.  Following is what I got in the email this morning:

We need your help!

Stop the National Parks Service from moving Alcatraz Ferries from Pier 39 to Fort Mason and congesting the bay and Aquatic Park

As you may already know, NPS is looking to move the current short lease location for Alcatraz Ferries down to Fort Mason with a longer agreement that may put them coming in and out of Fort Mason for 50 years. This is why all of our Swim With Pedro sessions in the Fall are all at Crissy Field - they will be renovating the railway through Aquatic Park for trams to transport tourists to Fort Mason Alcatraz ferries.
The issues are obvious, with increased bay traffic in the way of our swims, but also congesting Aquatic Park with tourists and tram traffic, making operations for all swim and recreation clubs dangerous and difficult. It also poses new risk to recreational boaters, kayakers, and paddlers by turning this peaceful part of the bay into a ferry and tourist highway.
Submitting comments to the NPS is critical. This NPS web page has a "Comment Now" button on the bottom that folks can use to submit comments.  
David Bennett, a Dolphin Club member, thinks it also helps for people to send comments to local supervisors, Supervisor Mark Farrell of the Marina District (his jurisdiction includes Fort Mason), Supervisor Julie Christensen (she covers the Fisherman's Wharf area and her business community would be hit hard by loss of revenue from tourists that visit there for the ferry) and PelosiFeinstein, and Boxer.
Please join us in encouraging swimmers and other Fort Mason and Aquatic Park users in vocalizing the negative impact it has on local athletic and recreational communities in San Francisco, in addition to businesses that would lose significant revenue if tourists were redirected away. Keep Aquatic Park and the surrounding area safe and accessible to everyone!

Thanks for taking the time to voice your opinion!

No comments: