letter to the editor

Letter to the Editor: Fine Arts Museums Should Not Support Observation Wheel


An Open letter to the de Young Museum 

The Observation Wheel will hinder, rather than help, members getting to the de Young Museum because of the additional traffic from those coming to ride the Wheel.  Also, there is no basis for assuming the Wheel wiil bring visitors to the de Young who would not otherwise be going there. As a member of the Fine Arts Museums (FAM) for decades, and a (formerly) frequent visitor,  I was surprised to hear FAM CAO Susan McConkey make a public comment to the Historic Preservation Committee in support of a four-year extension for the SkyStar Wheel.  

The Wheel is of little or no benefit to the de Young and I am disappointed to hear that staff are spending time calling in support of SkyStar, a private, for-profit vendor based in St. Louis, MO, with no transparency, and SF Parks Alliance, a private non-profit. In the words of Connie Chan, Richmond District supervisor: “…the revenue generated by the Wheel has been going to a non-profit that has been under, and part of, an on-going public corruption investigation.”

For every $18 ticket sold, $17 goes to SkyStar and $1 goes to SF Parks Alliance; zero goes to the City. SkyStar pays nothing in rent for its prime location on the Music Concourse. This is not a good deal for the City and a four-year extension should not have been approved. The one-year extension proposed by Supervisors Peskin and Chan was a good compromise and should have been supported by the Fine Arts Museums.  The Wheel is intrusive, out of place and out of character for the Music Concourse, an environmental hazard and five years is not temporary.  The Sierra Club, the Audubon Society and a roster of environmental groups and activists all oppose it.  The Wheel, by itself, will not revive the local economy or create jobs, as its promoters claim; there is no evidence for that.  We don’t need a Ferris Wheel to attract visitors to Golden Gate Park.  The de Young should not be encouraging the commercialization and environmental degradation of our Park.

Until the SkyStar Wheel is removed from the Park, I pledge not to shop at the de Young store or visit the de Young Museum.  I will not support the Fine Arts Museums being used to further the interests of a private business and a private non-profit to the detriment of our park environment.

David Romano

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