Converting the rock - Page 2

February ballot measure seeks support for removing the prison from Alcatraz

"This income will be more than sufficient to cover the minimal administrative costs for maintaining Alcatraz."

Currently ferry tickets to Alcatraz cost $16.50 each, of which about 25 percent, or $4.5 million annually, goes to the GGNRA, with the bulk of those monies covering Alcatraz's night security and maintenance of the buildings and sewer.

According to San Francisco controller Ed Harrington, "should the proposed policy statement be approved, it would not increase the cost of government."

But that's only because the policy statement wouldn't do anything.

"However, should San Francisco actually work to acquire Alcatraz Island from the feds," Harrington adds, "there would be significant costs."

But Da Vid says there's something more important at stake than money. He asks, "The bottom line is, do we want an old, decaying prison to continue to be a prominent landmark for the Bay Area or do we want to create a new Alcatraz, which will define a new emerging paradigm committed to progressive, enlightened values?"

Weideman cites Alcatraz's landmark status and the 10,000 birds that nest on the island each spring as major hurdles in Vid's path: "To remove the prison, which is a national historic monument, along with the Civil War–era fort beneath it, would take an act of Congress."