Open Letter October 15,2006

FOGG appreciates those who made the effort and took the time to attend Mr. Simon Snellgrove’s latest presentation on Tuesday, October 10. We thank those who spoke and refuted a number of Mr. Snellgrove’s “facts”: Numerous people called Mr. Snellgrove to task for a number of his misrepresentations. We also appreciate the people who, after hearing the proposal, have joined the FOGG team. Welcome aboard!

Mr. Snellgrove has reduced his underground parking spaces to approximately 520, but he still ignores the fact that there are a number of parking garages within walking distance of the Embarcadero that even on Saturdays and holidays are looking for customers. This part of the San Francisco waterfront has been described as the epicenter of public transportation, with BART, Muni and ferries providing reliable, affordable mass transit. Why not public transportation first?

He doesn’t address the issue of how long construction will take, just “possibly two years.” How many weeks and months will it really take to clean up the toxic mud that must be removed from the site before construction can proceed? How many trucks per day in the neighborhood? What about the noise when the pile driving begins?

Mr. Snellgrove will reduce the tennis courts from nine to six. Yes, we can still have USTA tournaments, and USTA League teams, but what happens to the members who do not have any courts for open play? Less tennis courts means less tennis, and that’s just not good enough. As the tennis members know, the “front five” courts are arguably the best outdoor courts in San Francisco and maybe the best downtown in any major city in America. When they are gone, they are gone. We cannot allow this to happen.

The swimming pools will still be there – after being closed down for two years, but will you wait for them to reopen? And will their new location be covered with shadows from his 8 story luxury condos? Mr. Snellgrove has said no shadows. Will this really be true?

But the highlight of his plan is the open public/private walkway from Jackson St. to the Embarcadero. Its only purpose is to highlight Mr. Snellgrove’s project at Piers 1 ½, 3 and 5. This walkway separates the Club’s indoor athletic facilities from the outdoor pools and tennis courts. One must cross this “commons” area and use a card key to enter the outdoor facilities. He claims that the public/private walkway can be used by the kids for their kids’ camp activities, and he will provide a playground for their use. He doesn’t understand that the kids programs are designed for swimming, tennis and other outdoor activities, not for swings, slides, etc. And what about security in such an open public/private area? Even the management of the Golden Gateway Tennis and Swim Club doesn’t agree with this concept.

There are other areas of contention. What we have so far heard from Mr. Snellgrove is enough for Friends of Golden Gateway to keep the pressure on and let Mr. Snellgrove know that we don’t agree with this development, which has an underlying purpose to better his project at Piers 1 ½, 3 and 5. That is really what this is all about.

Our Club has nearly 40 years of history, and this open recreational area was an integral part of the original concept of the Golden Gateway Center. We will continue to challenge the cutting off of the Club from the original concept. We need your support to keep this jewel of recreational activity for all those throughout the City who use the facility to better their quality of life.

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