President’s Report, February 2019

Submitted by Lucia Bogatay, President of PHA

February 2019

The tour of the Gorgas Warehouse renovation project was well attended. Rob Thomson was in charge, and Bob Maher took photos.

Our committee for History Weekend at the Mint will set up our display on Friday March 1. Bob Cherny has done panels, and Sharon is trying to find volunteers. PLEASE call her at 415 305-3045 if you can help for a couple of hours on Saturday or Sunday, March 2 and 3. It involves talking to people who stop at the table and enjoying the scene. There is a party for volunteers after the event closes on Sunday afternoon. Over 100 groups are participating this year.

We are planning PHA’s Annual Meeting for April 17th. Barbara Sokolov will be the speaker. Bob Cherny will give a talk on the wonderful Coit Tower Murals. We will be co-sponsoring it with the California Heritage Council. Date and location are pending. We are so happy that Bob Cherny is so much recovered!

People for the Parks and Presidio met on the 22 of February. The Fort Winfield Scott proposals are now due March 14. The four finalists have joined forces and will do a single proposal, but not surprisingly, needed more time. The Trust will meet to hear the proposal on April 24 and receive public comments. The decision (up or down) has been postponed until the Trust’s May 23 when the Trust has its next meeting.

The Trust reported on the status of Mountain Lake and recruiting neighbors to promise not to put alien species into the lake. They will be improving drainage to reduce seeping of golf course fertilizer into the lake. They are also reintroducing native newts into the park. They are poisonous to the touch, so signs will be needed. Pond turtles are reaching breeding age. They have made turtle crossing tunnels, so turtles can get to the uplands to nest (hopefully not in sand traps). The red-tailed hawks have been evicted from their nest by horned owls. The owls can be seen on the web cam. Coyotes will be pupping in April. This means limits on dog traffic in certain areas. The Franciscan Manzanita is being cloned, and will be planted along with a new source from Strybing Arboretum to help them to cross pollinate. The internship program is evolving. They are trying a pilot program for paid interns. A new Exhibit “Then They Came for Me” will be open at 100 Montgomery (home of Future without Violence). Tunnel tops contract documents are under review by Caltrans. Should be signed off in July.

Sharon Gadberry reported on improving the accessibility of the libraries and archives which should be available to the Public. She and Patrick Hannon are collaborating. There is much work to do to digitize and organize the Trust’s collection. Staffing problems appear to limit public access to the NPS Archive and the Maritime Museum library. Her diligence at defining the problems and trying to solve them got her a round of applause!

The Park Service is back in business, and grateful for the Trust’s help with during the shutdown. Many people contributed support during that period, which was difficult. The traffic management of the Marin Headlands is a problem. Reservations at Muir Woods have made it quieter. Lights out for birds from now until June due to migrations (night time) which are disrupted by too much night lighting. Also glass treatments needed for bird-safe buildings. Fritting and U.V. glass are two of the options.

President’s Report, January 2019

Presidio Historical Association President’s Report
Submitted by Lucia Bogatay, President of PHA
January 2019

Amazing, a whole new year!   We had a fine holiday party at my house with lots of delicious salmon, bubbly and fruit punch.  And always Carol Brownson’s wonderful gougeres. One guest was Rob Thomson, Federal Preservation Officer for the Trust.  He is going to take interested members on a tour of the Gorgas Warehouses which are currently under renovation. It will be a hard-hat tour.  Rob is providing the hats and we will give him a count. This will be on January 31 at 4:00 PM. It should be a fascinating tour.

We were delighted to learn that our former staff, Steven Krefting, has made a complete recovery!   We imagine him singing away through the holiday season with his wonderful baritone.

We are looking forward to our table at the History Weekend at the Mint.  We look forward to the event which we are at the beginning stages of planning.  Volunteers will be needed to man the tables. The organizing committee includes Sharon Gadberry, Bob Cherney, and Jason Wright.  I will also be helping.

People for the Parks and Presidio met on the 18th of January, and due to the Government shut down, there were no representatives of the National Park Service.  Since the Trust is self-financing, Patrick Hannon, Chief Communications Officer, was able to give a thorough report on Trust activities.  Downed trees are being recycled. In particular, a very large one is being turned into nearly 100 outdoor benches for the Tunnel Tops and Rob Hill campground.  Staff has been pruning vegetation which might cause fires in high winds, which work is paying off. Caltrans has delivered almost all of its agreed-upon payment, in lieu of contractual work on the Tunnel Tops that the Trust prefers to carry out themselves.  The Trust staff is helping out the Park Service by removing trash in Area A, and the park police are working “on a promise” of pay. The Fort Winfield Scott proposals are due February 12. Look for them on Valentine’s day on the Trust’s Fort Scott website. Comments are due before April 24 when the Trust will make a selection.  NEPA/NHPA process will be complete by June 29. Work on reducing the grassed areas to save water is proceeding. Tree planting now includes more redwoods, and replacement of heavily topped and dying cypresses is proceeding with shorter varieties. Clearly these are both issues which might affect the cultural landscape.

Clara Wallace discussed the Academy in the Presidio which teaches the technical side of Presidio operations.  This is a course which might be of interest to our members!

Amy Meyer commented on the damage the shut down is doing to poorly supervised but open parks such as Joshua Tree.  Also, of concern is the fact that there is no permanent director of N.P.S., just a series of temporary directors. The Land and Water Courses Fund has been allowed to atrophy, so that NPS can no longer buy out pockets of private land within the park system.

Bob Siegel discussed a group which is proceeding to develop a cross-town trail of 16 miles.  Blessed by NPS, his group is planning to inaugurate this trail with pop-up ceremonies on June 2.  They are looking for sponsors. Contact him at pnmnsiegel@gmail.com.  The route is described in a proposal (link).  Paul Wermer suggested developing material to identify historic places and events along the route as a way to help animate the experience.  This is possible project for PHA!

President’s Report October 2018

Presidio Historical Association President’s Report
Submitted by Lucia Bogatay, President of PHA
October 2018

We continue to comment on the scope of the Fort Winfield Scott proposals. The need for a large investment to make the buildings and site usable makes inevitable a bias towards well healed organizations with an elitist tendency. Nevertheless, the issues they propose to work on are so important that there is still the hope that Fort Scott development will produce solutions rather than just contemplating the problems. We hope that the need to get income from the 300,000 square feet of historic structures doesn’t take precedence over the importance of this special place to the National Historic Landmark District. Our comments so far included suggestions for additional selection criteria and requirements which will provide for more access, and perhaps interpretation, and periodic review of tenants to determine that the “mission” of the successful proposer continues to be honored. The proposals are due January 14 and will be the subject of a Trust Board Meeting on January 24, after which more comments will be solicited.

We have organized and enjoyed several field trips during the beautiful Fall weather. A visit to the Nike Site was postponed to December, but we had a fantastic tour of the coastal batteries north of Fort Scott given by John Martini, historian and specialist in military ordinance. We had a splendid ferry boat trip to and tour of Vallejo, organized by PHA member Merle Easton. Our guide was Brendan Riley, author of a book on the famous red-light district, near the river across from Mare Island. The tour required our imaginations because the actual district was destroyed by Redevelopment, in an effort to control the underworld activities that no other measures had succeeded in doing. Brendan is hopeful that the group of ugly 1960’s buildings, mostly empty, will be removed and some semblance of the original town fabric will replace it. A future tour of Mare Island is contemplated in the Spring. Founded in 1854 as a naval yard, Mare Island, along with its many historic structures, is now in the hands of private developers.

Some of us attended the 50th Anniversary commemoration of the Presidio 27 Mutiny. While it did focus on the experience of the soldiers who were protesting conditions in the stockade, following the shooting on a mentally disturbed inmate on a work detail. It grew into a Viet Nam protest within the military. The video guide included some comments on the position of Post Commander Larson. Half a dozen original detainees were present, as was their attorney, and one of the original stockade guards. The cell phone guide presentation was a 24 hour experiment done by the Trust interpretive staff. It worked well and may be posted on the website.

As for the operations of the PHA, Paul Wermer continues to be our mainstay, making contacts, running the office, doing the books and generally supporting the organization with his vision and enthusiasm. Samantha Davis is our wonderful administrative assistant, managing our membership, sending announcements, and doing research on whatever comes up. Both our events and Samantha’s efforts have garnered many renewals and a few new members, and we continue with our goal to rebuild our membership. My thanks to both Paul and Samantha, and to all you who renewed. We value our members and hope to hear from you about what else you think we might do in the months ahead. We need new board members and will be talking to those of you who might be interested in getting more involved in the new year. Don’t hesitate to call if interested.

Up-coming events will include a Holiday party on December 11, details to be announced, and preparations for the History Weekend for which we plan something on the Manilla Galleons, in honor of Ed Von der Portan. This happens in March. We will look forward to having many of you volunteer to attend our table in the Old Mint.