World-class San Francisco Presidio Tunnel Tops opens

RIBBON CUTTING. From fourth to left to right, Dylan Nepomuceno, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Presidio Trust CEO Jean Fraser and President and CEO of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy Chris Lehnertz join other guests as they prepare to cut the ribbon symbolizing the opening of Presidio Tunnel Tops.

By Jun Nucum
SAN FRANCISCO – The much-anticipated new national park destination Presidio Tunnel Tops in San Francisco has opened with US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi leading the ribbon-cutting ceremony with community leaders and Partnership for the Presidio representatives.

Offering the amazing view of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Tunnel Tops features family picnic tables where 20 to 30 people can gather, grills, playground, easy access to wheelchair-bound individuals and soon will have food truck making it a place for the whole family to enjoy.

The culmination of a 20-year transformation of the Presidio’s waterfront, the Tunnel Tops that adds 14 acres to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area gave way to a national park space over concrete tunnels connecting San Francisco to the iconic Golden Gate Bridge that brings national park experiences closer to people across the Bay Area and visitors from around the world.

A result of a decade of community input and consultation with community organizations, health leaders, and park planners with the goal of making national park experiences easily accessible to all, the Presidio Tunnel Tops was made possible by generous funding from donors to the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy through a $98 million capital campaign, which was completed in 2019 mainly through the efforts of  its campaign committee led by Lynne Benioff, Mark Buell, and Randi Fisher, and the many other families and individuals who helped deliver on the vision of this great park.

 “The Presidio Tunnel Tops, which will serve as a beautiful beacon of recreation, education and community in our city. Thanks to the tireless efforts of the Presidio Trust, National Park Service, and Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, and the immense generosity of many supporters and volunteers, families in the Bay Area and beyond will benefit from this magnificent new park – now and for generations to come,” Pelosi said.

Celebrating public and private partnership, Pelosi particularly cited the national park’s relevant connection to children of a place that used to be dedicated for U.S. Army and the veterans being a former Army Post.

“It would not be a true urban a park without the beautiful involvement of children as much as the park is also about environment, good mental health, the art and how all of them bring everyone together,” Pelosi said.

For her part, San Francisco City Mayor London Breed praised Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her leadership to get appropriations for the Tunnel Tops project remembered that the Tunnel Tops project something that the people of San Francisco wanted to see this place to become – an open place for all to enjoy.

“And making that happen from what this place used to look like to a vision of what it is today and what it will do for future generations to come, is absolutely extraordinary,” Breed said. “What this represents really is who we are as San Franciscans – creative people, generous people bumped with our resources and our time over 10,000 people who time and time again showed to provide input to what is to be a masterpiece like a Picasso painting and Mona Lisa.”

President and CEO of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy Chris Lehnertz echoed Pelosi’s sentiment on engagement of children in national parks like the Presidio Tunnel Tops who, upon coming to a park with their summer programs, would eventually bring their family the next time around.

“I kind of think that eight-year-old children run the world because families listen so much to what they want to do. Children are the future and that is exactly what the park is all about. We have a beautiful camp called the Chrissy Field Center that has been around for twenty years and this place is the center of all youth programs in the park,” Lehnertz stated while also emphasizing the need for inclusivity in inviting everyone in the community

Inclusivity is also what CEO of the Presidio Trust Jean Fraser had in mind citing it as their overriding goal trusting that national park is “the only place that all of us own where all can be who we are.”

“Come here experience what it is like to be in a national park free, inclusive and welcoming to everyone, we have the history of the first peoples, of many different folks This is about all of us as the beauty of the United States is being the melting pot of different races, ages, genders and the like,” Fraser said.

Fraser is equally excited that thousands more will come and enjoy the historic place that was instrumental in “unfortunately all of the wars in the Pacific” including wars in Vietnam and other places in Asia that makes it a very important place in American history and one of the national cemeteries with a thousand of soldiers who died for the service of their nation.

Filipino American Dylan Nepomuceno who was a junior high school student involved with the Chrissy Fields Center Urban Trailblazers program when the Tunnel Tops project broke ground in 2019 is now an adventure guide and was Pelosi referred to as  an interpreter not only of nature for the young people but also of their possibilities.

Nepomuceno, whose mom Louise hails from Albay province in Bicol, waxed emotional in stating that his time at the park has shown him a true sense of belonging.

“For most young people, including myself, it truly feels wholesome to be a part of something. This is the place for me. And in that sense I feel I belong. Now I am standing on a dream that the Tunnel Tops would connect the Chrissy Fields and the Presidio,” Nepomuceno said. “Through internships and jobs here, I was able to take on the responsibility of being a role model to young people. This is the park for those who are looking for a place where they belong. I will keep that dream.”

Nepomuceno said he is optimistic that young people like him “will not only belong here as participants but also as caretakers and leaders of the community in the park that will always hold opportunities to learn, to grow, to connect, to discover to be kind and care for others while setting goals for oneself and the world around.”