04/25/2012 07:05 pm ET

Candlestick Point Recreation Area Hit By Vandals Only Weeks Before Imminent Closure

While Candlestick Point Recreation Area may sit in the industrial shadow of the soon-to-be-vacant Candlestick Park, it offers San Francisco residents something they can't get anywhere else: a state park nestled right inside San Francisco's oft-claustrophobic city limits.

Despite recent efforts to provide a new funding source for the 170-acre park and its stunning bay views, Candlestick Point is one of nearly 70 California state parks slated for closure this summer due to budget cuts.

To add insult to injury, vandals broke into a community garden at the park last weekend and flipped over tables filled with nearly 4,000 plants intended for the reclamation of the Yosemite Slough Wetlands, resulting in $15,000 worth of damage.

"For a nonprofit at a state park already getting hit really hard, this is a real blow to us," Patrick Rump told the San Francisco Chronicle. Rump manages the vandalized nursery for the non-profit group Literacy for Environmental Justice, which works with state parks to grow native plants and then install them in local parks.

"We can regrow all the plants and fix everything up," he added, "but there's this really positive thing in the community and it feels like an assault on that."

Not only was the damage done on Earth Day, but it came only days after an Earth Day-themed restoration and clean-up of the park. "If something this big were to close, it'd rip a piece of the heart from Hunters Point and Bayview, period," 16-year old Reneka Jones told the Chronicle during the event.

The Candlestick Point Recreation Area was created out of landfill during World War II with the intention of turning it into the naval shipyard; however, it sat largely unused for decades until the state purchased the land in the early 1970s and converted it into California's first urban recreation area.

That history will likely come to a close on July 1, when the park will become one of many the state's Department of Parks & Recreation is shuttering as a way to save money. The department estimates that it can save over $580,000 per year by closing the park.

The closure will occur even though the park is scheduled to get a $50 million cash infusion from a cash-for-land swap between the department and the city of San Francisco that would turn over 23 acres of the park for a massive mixed-use housing and office development being constructed by Lennar Homes.

However, this money won't come soon enough to save the park because the timing of the deal is largely based on the state of the economy. "The funds won't flow until after the initial exchange of land," Parks Department chief planner Steve Musillami told Bay Nature. "It's up to the developer and the city and not up to us. We are getting everything in place to make it possible by the end of the calendar year." says Musillami. "We have heard concerns about the park closing, but no one is coming forward with funds."

A handful of other parks initially slated for closure have been saved either though a donation by private donor or by takeover from the National Parks Service.