Chronicle: New Report Finds Coit Tower Decaying

San Francisco Chronicle

New Coit Tower report shows plenty of maintenance problems

May 24, 2012

A new report on the condition of Coit Tower paints a picture of a city landmark drifting into disrepair. (Read the report by clicking here)

While the study by Architectural Resource Group for the Recreation and Park Department found only a handful of major problems, the little things add up. Peeling paint, water stains, cracked concrete, corroded metal and soiled walls all contribute to a feeling of decay and a look that in many cases is worse than the reality.

The Depression-era murals also are feeling the weight of the years and their condition “warrants immediate conservation attention,” an art expert found.

The study found insect damage, flaking paint, water damage and problems caused by the more than 150,000 people who visit Coit Tower every year.

Preservation of the frescos “is inseparable from the health and repair of the building as a whole,” the report found.

Proponents of Prop. B got a boost with a new report on the condition of Coit Tower. (Lea Suzuki/The Chronicle)

To do that that will require not only building repairs, but also “a reduction of risks (to the frescos) and unrelenting maintenance and monitoring of conditions.”

It might also require “some changes in building use.”

That’s good news for the backers of Prop. B on the city’s June ballot, an advisory measure calling for limits to commercial activities and private events at Coit Tower and funneling revenue from the building’s concessions into maintenance and upkeep of the historic site.

“This is alarming information, but it is great news that the public outcry about the neglect of Coit Tower and the damage to the historic murals has finally forced the city to take the problems at Coit Tower seriously,” said Jon Golinger of the Protect Coit Tower Committee.

UPDATE: Reaction to the report was quick. On Thursday afternoon Mayor Ed Lee and Board President David Chiu announced a $1.7 million fund to repair Coit Tower and restore the murals.

While the Recreation and Park Department already had identified $250,000 for restoration work, the additional $1.45 million came from money left from 2004 lease revenue bonds.

“The timing just worked,” said Phil Ginsburg, the city’s recreation and park director. “We had always intended to use this money for deferred maintenance and when the Coit Tower report came out, we decided to use it there.”

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