The Presidio Trust's mystery millions - Page 2

Why is a national park sitting on $105 million for projects that are too secret to disclose?

About half that money has been spent, and places such as Coyote Gulch, Sunset Scrub, and Thompson Reach are now reblossoming into the natural areas they once were.

But in the seven years since these projects began, unknown contaminants and cost overruns for the massive environmental remediation projects have bumped the total price tag from $100 million to $130 million.

A note in the annual report states that $23 million of the overrun is still unfunded and is expected to come from interest earned on investments, "of which $14.9 million has already been earned."

Those of you who are not utterly boggled by these numbers may extrapolate from an above paragraph that the trust is netting about $2 million a year in interest income. It's going to be a while before the agency has that $23 million to pay for the guys in the Hazmat suits.

Additionally, the report reads, "If cleanup costs for the enumerated sites exceed the $100 million threshold ... by $10 million, the Army must seek additional appropriated funds for the enumerated sites."

Polk confirmed the trust is pursuing additional funding from the Department of Defense and from insurance that is carried for the projects.

So why does the trust still need to earn $23 million in interest if it is asking the DOD for the money anyway?

The trust isn't a bank, so why does it need to sit on so much money rather than spend it on the various projects around the park, many of which are currently funded by tenants or philanthropists? Right now tenants who are leasing space have to pay for their own renovations.

What special projects is the money earmarked for?

There may be a perfectly sound explanation, but we've tried mightily to extract it from Presidio officials, and we are, frankly, baffled. Polk refused to answer our questions — and when we pressed her, she said our coverage of the park is too critical. Then she hung up on us.

But $105 million is a lot of money; maybe Polk can explain it to you.

Her direct line at the Presidio Trust is (415) 561-2710. Good luck. *