Fisherman's Wharf CBD Seeks To Revitalize Joseph Conrad Square

By Nathan Falstreau, on Tuesday, June 22nd, 2016 at 8:32 a.m.

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In the space where Columbus Avenue dead-ends at Beach Street in Fisherman's Wharf, you'll find Joseph Conrad Square, a small, triangular public park where tourists often sit to take a break from shopping and bask in the sun. The .09-acre mini-park sits across the street from the Cannery, the city's lone In-N-Out Burger, and many other retail and restaurant establishments, making it a high-traffic area for visitors. 

But after the sun sets, the park is the last place you'll see tourists congregating. With a lack of lighting at night, high trees and lots of shrubbery, it's an easy place to conceal illegal behavior.

"People [are] using the park to drink [and] shoot up drugs, [and] the darkness and high vegetation helps mask that," said Troy Campbell, executive director of the Fisherman's Wharf Community Benefit District (FWCBD).

Along with local merchants, the FWCBD is looking to revitalize the space, which they believe is "poorly connected to the surrounding streets and buildings," to cut down on bad behavior at night. 

The FWCBD has been working since 2009 to find a solution to the park's design problem. Last year, the organization was finally able to secure funding, and hired local architectural landscape firm Carducci & Associates to create a new concept. 

Campbell told us that the firm's solution is to redesign the park in such a way as to discourage criminal activity at night. "The design calls for better lighting in the park and more low-growing plants and ground cover, so it is not as easy to conceal this type of behavior [from] patrol cars passing by," he said.

So far, the firm's plan calls for adding plants to the park that are drought-resistant and low-maintenance. Another plan is to paint a cement retaining wall orange, to "increase the visibility of the park, help with place-making, and provide a nice backdrop for the new greenery planted in the bed in front of it." 

The FWCBD held its first community engagement meeting to present the proposed project last Tuesday, and plans to hold another project review meeting on July 12th from 6-7pm at its offices at 2801 Leavenworth St, Suite B-16. Members of the community are welcome to attend to give input. The organization is also seeking funding partners for the project to help make the new park a reality.