Candlestick Point circling the drain

Candlestick Point State Recreation Area is expected to close next week as time is running out for a deep-pocketed savior to swoop in and save the largest green space in one of San Francisco’s grittiest neighborhoods.

Candlestick will be the first Bay Area state park to close, as the remaining 16 Bay Area park closures have been temporarily suspended.

However, the State of California owes residents an explanation as to why they are taking a widely-used park away from a seriously low-income community while parks in wine country are being rescued.

Potrero Hill resident Eddie Bartley, who birds at Candlestick Point, summed up the situation to California Watch:

“The parks that are staying open are in areas where the citizens are able to step up to the plate and chip in.”

The closure of the park in the Bayview-Hunters Point district is in direct conflict with a 2006 San Francisco Department of Public Health Report that analyzed serious health concerns in the neighborhood:

“Lack of access to healthy foods, inadequate transportation, lack of exercise facilities, and violence all serve to restrict BVHP residents’ ability to exercise and eat healthy foods … Southeast residents also have much less favorable ratings of park grounds, facilities and recreational programs when compared to the rest of the City.”

San Francisco 49ers fans will be pleased to hear that they can still use the park’s parking on game days. Windsurfers, hikers and locals, though, will be out of luck. Fees collected on game days will go to the state park system’s general fund instead of being set aside for the park’s re-opening.

The only hope so far in regards to the park reopening is the massive redevelopment project scheduled for the area. Expected no earlier than 2014, the development is expected to provide the recreational area with tens of millions of dollars.

Patrick Rump the acting executive director of Literacy for Environmental Justice sees the parks closure as symbolic:

“The state park is shining example of positivity in this neighborhood. If you close it, the story is going to be: ‘Don’t go to Candlestick. It’s unsafe.’ ”