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Presidio National Park Must Become Self-sufficient

The Presidio of San Francisco, a former military base, is the only national park mandated by Congress to become financially self-sufficient.

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  • SPENCER MICHELS, NewsHour Correspondent:

    It's not the kind of thing you'd expect at a national park: an upscale spa, where you can get a facial or a massage or other treatments, at prices ranging from $110 to $825.

    But the Presidio of San Francisco, designated a national park in 1994 after serving 218 years as a military base, is doing a lot of unexpected things. That's because the Presidio right now is the only national park in the country that has to pay its own way or be sold off to developers.

    According to an act of Congress that saved the Presidio from being released into private hands, the park, with plenty of historic buildings that need expensive maintenance, has until 2013 to prove that it is self-sufficient. If it is successful, some say it might serve as a model elsewhere.

    Rather than use the National Park Service to run the park, Congress set up the Presidio Trust, which acts like a corporate board, with most trustees appointed by the president. Craig Middleton is its executive director.

  • CRAIG MIDDLETON, Executive Director, Presidio Trust:

    Ten years ago, it was pretty controversial as to whether or not we could do this kind of experiment, and I think it's proving to work.

    We've got a lot of bipartisan support in Congress; our financials look good; the park is coming to life as a park. And so I think that, you know, there are enough constituents for this park that it will be here for a long time.