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Future Of Golden Gate Park Ferris Wheel Up For A Vote

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- The Historic Preservation Commission will vote on the fate of the SkyStar Observation Wheel at Golden Gate Park on Wednesday.

The giant ferris wheel is currently at a standstill, but debate over its stay is heating up. It was originally supposed to stay for a year as part of the park's 150th anniversary, but it's been largely closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The SF Recreation and Parks Commission has proposed a 4-year extension.

"Four years because we want to make good on our promise for people to be able to ride the wheel," said spokesperson Tamara Barak Aparton. "There was a lot of excitement about it, a lot of people with their hopes dashed. The other reason is that it's a good part of the recovery plan, the economic recovery plan for San Francisco."

Rec and Parks said the opening attracted new visitors to the park and made it safer at night.

"I love it as a resident, I think it really enhances my experience of walking through the park and it's beautiful and I enjoy looking at it at night almost everyday," said Will Cordingley of San Francisco.

But not everyone is a fan.

In a blog post the Sierra Club San Francisco Bay said:

"Our city parks are a vital refuge for wild animals struggling to deal with the loss of habitat and open space. Wildlife needs darkness. Light pollution can have a negative impact on birds — both resident and migrating — as well as bats, insects, amphibians, and other animals. Artificial light can alter an animal's circadian rhythm, disrupting breeding, foraging, and sheltering cycles. Furthermore, it can draw and disorient some species while repelling others — in both cases, to deadly effect."

"It's very striking, I like it, but the park is a very peaceful place, so I find the generator kind of disruptive, and I feel like with these things, we often don't think of the environmental impact," said Jess Lanham of San Francisco.

A portion of the revenue would go toward transportation access to Golden Gate Park and cultural performances at Rec and Parks venues.

The extension would also allow 16,000 free tickets to go to deserving families.

"I don't think there's a big increase in noise or lights there. It all kind of feels like it's code for not in my backyard," said Barak Aparton.

The Historic Preservation Commission will meet at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday.

If approved, the matter will go to the Rec and Parks Commission for authorization on Thursday.

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