12/28/2012 01:37 pm ET

Angel Island State Park Headed For Multi-Million Dollar Overhaul

Angel Island, a beautiful state park perched in the middle of the San Francisco Bay, is headed for a major, multi-million dollar overhaul.

The renovations, targeted for completion over the next two decades, come as part of an Interpretation Master Plan report released earlier this year by the California Department of Parks and Recreation.


The report notes that, "outdated infrastructure and the poor condition of many historic buildings limit their safe use for interpretation and by visitors." The largest project suggested in the master plan is a new visitors center near the island's main ferry dock. Other improvements include better online trip planning information and the installation of new signage at points of historical significance around the island

"I want Angel Island to be an awe-inspiring visitor experience and one of the must see Bay Area destinations, like Alcatraz and other places that people have on their short list when they come to the Bay Area," Gail Dalton of the Angel Island Conservatory told CBS San Francisco.

The Marin Independent Journal reports:

Specific cost estimates have not yet been developed but most projects are estimated to cost less than $50,000, for a total in the millions of dollars. The largest project is a million dollar-plus "orientation hub" that would welcome visitors when they arrive at the Ayala Cove ferry dock.

The park already has a visitor center about a quarter-mile from the dock, and another with more limited hours at the island's East Garrison military installation. However, neither provide a one-stop center for information on ferries, trails, historic sites, museums, tours and bicycle and Segway rentals, said Gail Dolton, president of the Angel Island Conservancy.

The renovations will be partially funded with $450,000 in Proposition 84 funds obtained earlier this year.

The park is only accessible by ferries from San Francisco, Tiburon, Oakland and Alameda.

Angel Island's history stretches back to the days before Europeans came to the region, when the Miwok Indians inhabited the area. When Spanish explorer Juan de Ayala first discovered the San Francisco Bay, the first place he docked his ship was in a spot right off of the cost of Angel Island, which was named Ayala Cove in his honor.

During the Civil War the island was turned into the military base, after which it was converted into an entry point/detention facility for immigrants coming into the United States, primarily from Asia--it's often been called the "Ellis Island of the West." In 1954, Angel Island was given over to California's parks department (save for a Nike missile site, which was eventually decommissioned in the 1960s).

Today, the island boasts world class hiking, camping and bird watching opportunities as well as scenic beaches and picnic areas. It receives some 165,000 visitors per year. A recent survey found that just under three-quarters of said visitors come from the Bay Area.

Check out this slideshow featuring some of the design specs of what the improvements in and around Angel Island are going to look like:



Angel Island Improvements