The most rewarding part of my job as a recreation and park commissioner is connecting with residents and hearing how parks in our neighborhoods enhance quality of life and strengthen communities throughout San Francisco and right here in District 2. That’s why whether we’re planning a new park or renovating an old gem, it’s important that we put the public voice first.
And San Francisco values our parks: in 2008 and 2012, over 70 percent of San Francisco voters approved $380 million in bond money, allowing us to begin upgrading parks, playgrounds, pools, and recreation centers all across the city. The dedicated and talented professionals at the Recreation and Park Department are working hard to fulfill the will of the voters and ensure we have access to great public spaces that make a positive impact on the lives of all San Franciscans.
PARK FUNDING A COMPLEX PROCESS
This work is tough, but rewarding — renovating or building a new park may sound like a simple task, but as anyone who has attended a community planning meeting knows, it’s a complex process. Putting parks funding to work and stretching every dollar requires a complicated but invaluable process of community outreach — asking what the public wants to see in their parks, what features they would use most, and about neighborhood priorities for the space.
This process also builds understanding of individual neighborhood needs and how the park fits into our overall system of 224 parks. The goal is to make our park communities special, whether that means tennis and basketball courts, playgrounds, baseball diamonds, dog runs, or open space and barbeque pits. All that community input goes into designs that are presented to the community for discussion, modification, and most important, to make sure it meets neighborhood needs. All of this is done while keeping an eye on regulations, permits and, of course, budget.
Once it’s all done — the community has been heard and construction has been completed — we get to open new or newly renovated parks with strong community input that strengthens our neighborhoods. From Hilltop Park in the Bayview to Mountain Lake Park in our own District 2 (which will open soon), it’s a joy to see communities come together to celebrate the transformation of their neighborhood parks, playgrounds, and recreation centers.
DISTRICT 2 PARK UPDATE
Currently in our District 2 neighborhoods, there are two exciting projects in the works where your voice has been critical — and where your voice should be heard.
After extensive community engagement, neighborhood meetings, and public meetings at City Hall, we’re ready to begin construction early this summer on the eastern playground at Moscone Recreation Center. This project will create a new play structure with new fencing, benches, and landscaping. It will also renovate the park’s dog run and resurface the tennis courts. We know that construction is an inconvenience, but it will be worth it when we celebrate the reopening of the eastern playground later this year.
We also have a truly unique opportunity to add a completely new park to one of San Francisco’s densest neighborhoods. The old Francisco Reservoir on Hyde Street between Bay and Chestnut Streets is currently in the planning stages to become a 4.25-acre park, with incredible views of the Bay, Alcatraz, Angel Island, and portions of our beautiful Golden Gate Bridge.
PUBLIC COMMENT NEEDED
This is your opportunity to be heard through our public input process and community meetings by sharing your voice and input on how to build features like a new children’s play area, community garden, small soccer field and dog run, meandering pathways and elements that honor the history of the site. This new park will add much needed open space to the neighborhood, and we expect to break ground on this project in 2018.
These two projects are in addition to the beautiful 2014 renovation of Lafayette Park, which still amazes me every time I see kids playing in the vibrant playground or when I happen upon one of the park’s great views of the city. Mountain Lake Park and Alta Plaza, which will undergo an irrigation project later this year, will soon join the ranks as recently renovated parks with paths, vistas, playgrounds, and tennis courts that you can enjoy in District 2.
The opening of a new or renovated park is special because that gleaming new playground comes from rigorous public input and the work we’ve done together as a community. The proof is the beaming smiles of our kids — or of a full-grown adult — as they race down a new slide or take in a beautiful view. I’m proud to help make our neighborhoods stronger by serving on the Recreation and Park Commission, because contributing to those moments of joy is really what it’s all about.
Visit sfrecpark.org to learn more and share your views on these and other parks projects.