City relaunches Lake Merced boathouse

Shuttered for the last decade, the freshly-renovated Lake Merced boathouse threw open its doors to the public Tuesday with a grand re-opening.

Photos by Brenna Cruz/SFBay

Harlan L. Kelly Jr., general manager for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, told dozens of boaters and community residents assembled for the ceremony:

“Isn’t this building beautiful?”

The PUC partnered with San Francisco Recreation and Parks to turn the once-neglected boat house into a fully renovated building for the community. Kelly added:

“It’s a privilege to be here and see everyone’s vision come to a reality.”

Kelly also reminded attendees of another, more serious role of Lake Merced:

“[Lake Merced] is also important to our water system. Behind us is our emergency water supply,”

Renovating the boat house was made a priority by former District 7 Sean Elsbernd.  In the fall of 2012, just before Elsbernd’s term ended, renovations began to transform the building from a worn-down “eyesore” that no contractor would touch to the refreshed community center it is now.

Current District 7 Supervisor Norman Yee, who replaced Elsbernd in the Board of Supervisors in November of 2012, said:

 “This is actually the best part of District 7. … To me, Lake Merced is the jewel of San Francisco and this boat house is the jewel of Lake Merced.”

$3.2 million was spent improving the 7,200 square feet of the upper floor of the 56-year old structure. From the community room to the bathroom to the exercise room to the changing room, the entire upper floor has been renovated, said Connie Chan of San Francisco Recreation & Parks:

 “Spaces for the foyer, restrooms, catering, changing rooms, office have been reconfigured, along with renovation of the concession, community room and rowing exercise spaces, including new floor, ceiling, and wall finishes, fixtures, interior doors and windows, lighting, and … fire alarm upgrades.”

Improvements have also been made to the exterior balcony, new accessible exterior concrete ramp, landings and steel handrails, modification of associated retaining walls and landscaping.

To cap the festivities, Supervisor Yee, Recreations & Park Commission President Mark Buell and Coach Joe Mees of Pacific Rowing Club commenced a practice session for the rowing team by simultaneously waving flags from the balcony of the boat house.

Phil Ginsburg, Rec & Parks general manager, sees the boat house once again becoming more of a community-based center:

“If you want to learn how to stand-up paddleboard, if you want to learn how to kayak, if you want to learn how to canoe, if you want to learn how to sail, you can do that with us – and that’s not something we could always say.”

Groups can rent community space at the Lake Merced Boat house for between $60 and $220 per hour. To reserve a space or check out more information on pricing, go to http://www.sfrecpark.org or contact Rec & Park permits and reservations at 415-831-5500.