Presidio’s new tunnel tops project breaks ground


By Jun Nucum

Taking some time off her duties in the House of Representatives, Speaker Nancy Pelosi graced the ground making recently of a new San Francisco Presidio national parkland to also kick off the park’s construction phase together with board members, other top officials and employees of the project’s prime movers, the Presidio Trust and the National Park Service and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.
Dubbed as the 14-acre wonder, theTunnel Tops project has been in the works for at least ten years and finally has been introduced to visitors, families and communities of different ethnical backgrounds.
Joining Pelosi as the groundmaking were Presidio Trust Board Chair Bill Grayson, National Park Service Chief of International and Education Michele Gee, Presidio Tunnel Tops Campaign Committee Co-Chair Lynne Benioff, landscape architect James Corner, and Crissy Field Center I-YEL Filipino American Intern Dylan Nepomuceno who she thanked and cited for their contributions.
“This is something quite spectacular and it takes us to a new level of a park as an example for the rest of the country, a new level of inspiration and most importantly of involving young people,” Pelosi stated. “The diversity is a beauty of our American community here and we want that reflected in the beautiful Presidio.”
Pelosi also broke ground on the 14-acre new national parkland with park managers, other community and civic leaders, representatives from school groups, philanthropists, project designers, and park officials by placing the first soil atop the tunnels, literally “making ground” for this civic project.
Presidio Trust Chief Executive Officer Jean Fraser was glad that the House Speaker could come and participate as she proudly declared that ground making is the culmination of years of planning, raising money, getting community impetus of what we should do here and today we are actually starting building it.
“It was a thrilling day to have Speaker Nancy Pelosi come and participate in the ceremony and talk about the importance of the Presidio especially the Presidio Tunnel Tops as being of national significance,” Fraser reacted..
Fraser added that the park, which is scheduled to open on the fall of 2021, is going to cost $110 million building over freeway and tunnels with the Presidio Trust putting in $20 million while generous people around San Francisco and Bay Area community have already contributed $87 million of the $98 million promised
Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy President and CEO of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy Christine Lehnertz was also excited in “celebrating the future, the opportunity to bring communities onto national park lands and go all the way to historic Presidio down to the Bay and bring their families and friends and celebrate.”
“It (the project) took around ten years in the planning and ground making because we retraffic and introduce designs that have never been designed before. And now to break the ground and see it come through is a long making complicated process for a very good outcome,” explained Lehnertz. “It is going to be open 24-hours a day with special programs for the communities, for those just walking by and special education programs for children and youth.”
Filipino American junior high school student of Chrissy Fields Center Urban Trailblazers program Dylan Nepomuceno, who was regarded by Pelosi as an inspiring young emerging leader that is the essence of the Presidio for young people from all over to come to the park and see the connection, was excited and somewhat surprised that he was chosen to speak at the event to represent the youth.
“The youth can also be sparks to connect themselves and find men as role models as I have. The future of the Presidio tunnel tops is what excites me the most. There will be expanded facilities, park areas and programs for youth like me. I am especially happy that this new area will triple the number of people who will get experience in our programs,” claims Nepomuceno as he spoke onstage on the importance of the Presidio. “This is a place where you discover your strengths, know your character, and learn to contribute to make the world better and become the leader the community needs.” .
In an interview, Nepomuceno intimated that it took him a couple of weeks to work on his speech and had his mother Louise Eleanor as his inspiration for shaping him to be the kind of person he is now.
Mother Louise Eleanor, for her part described Dylan as a shy boy who developed and manifested when Dylan joined Urban Trailblazer that really changed him in a very positive way..
“The Filipino traits that I see in him are his humility, ability to work hard, he is really driven and that comes from my parents,” Louise observed.
Designed by James Corner Field Operations, the firm behind New York’s popular elevated park the High Line, the Presidio Tunnel Tops will feature scenic overlooks with stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the City, paths and gardens, a Gateway Plaza with food and visitor services, a campfire circle and picnic grounds, and an “Outpost” and a Field Station where kids can explore nature.
With no admission fee and many connections to public transit, it is dedicated to serving all our communities through open parkland, natural spaces, and lively places to grow and thrive.
Its features include a gateway plaza, campfire circle Golden Gate Meadow , cliff walk, parkland overlook, Presidio steps, Crissy Field Center Youth Campus, a field station, and The Courtyard, among others.