National Park Service looks for long-term home for Alcatraz ferry

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alcatraz (KGO-TV )

The National Park Service is searching for a long-term home for the Alcatraz ferry and it's come down to three options, keeping it at its current site at Pier 31 1/2, or move it to either Pier 41 or Pier 3 at Fort Mason. The public sounded off for the first time Tuesday night.

The 10-year lease at Pier 31 1/2 is up soon, so the National Park Service is exploring options, but there's one in particular that's proving to be unpopular.

Roughly 1.4 million people visit Alcatraz every year, a popular tourist spot which the National Park Service says needs a permanent home base.

It no longer wants short-term leases. Instead, it wants a spot along the San Francisco waterfront for at least 50 years.

"Just so it's a quality National Park experience from the mainland to the island and for that to happen we need a long-term base of operations," said Howard Levitt, Communications Director for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

The National Park Service presented its plan to the public Tuesday night. The idea is to install permanent exhibits at the ferry launch site to improve the visitor experience.

Among the proposed sites, Pier 31 1/2 along the Embarcadero, where the ferries are now, Pier 41 near Fisherman's Wharf, and Pier 3 at Fort Mason in the Marina, the option with the most vocal opposition.

"Five thousand people per day come to catch the Alcatraz Ferry. That's crazy," said Tina Direienzo. "That will really change the complexion of that whole neighborhood."

Swimmers and kayakers also say ferries coming and going from Fort Mason will get in their way.

But the Port of San Francisco says no one should panic just yet. The odds that there'll be a deal involving Pier 31 and a half look promising.

"Pier 31 and a half is the best site. They've been there for the last 10 years and we hope for them to there for the next 50 years," said John Doll, Port of San Francisco development project manager.

A decision could come as early as this summer.
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