July Meeting Recap: HANC Members Weigh In on Two Park Projects

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By Rupert Clayton, HANC Board

At our member meeting on Thursday, July 12, HANC members had many questions for the people working on two major projects in our neighborhood parks. Staff from the city’s Rec and Parks Department presented and answered questions on the Panhandle Playground Project and the Stanyan Street Edge Project.

The Panhandle Playground Project aims to rebuild the children’s playground at Oak and Ashbury, at a cost of $3.2 million. This site is one of 13 playgrounds that will be renovated under the Let’sPlaySF! joint venture between RPD and the Parks Alliance, with the bulk of the funding from the 2012 Parks Bond. The meeting heard from Lisa Bransten, RPD’s director of partnerships, and Parks Alliance CEO Drew Becher.

 

The project is its initial stage of conceptual design, with one public workshop held on May 31 and two focus groups scheduled for August 9. Despite the early stage, RPD appears to have set some constraints, including a decision to have no sand in the new playground (see article by James Sword).

While the sand ban stirred the strongest response, members did raise other potential issues. One issue was which age groups the new playground should serve, and whether it could contain separate areas for pre-school- and grade-school-age children.

RPD also wants to open up sightlines into the playground to make it less separate from the rest of the Panhandle. One way to do this might be a lower fence. Members were concerned this might raise safety problems on a site bordered by two of the city’s busiest streets. This was seen as a particular risk for older children with developmental disabilities. Also controversial was the possibility that the playground might use synthetic turf and not real grass.

To find out more about the project, go to tinyurl.com/PanhandlePlayground

The second half of the meeting looked at the Stanyan Street Edge Project. This project is being funded with roughly $5.5 million from the 2012 Parks Bond. Detailed design was scheduled to begin in July, with contracting in early 2018 and construction during the second half of 2018.

proposed kioskRPD project manager Dan Mauer shared design alternatives for the project’s four main components: conversion of the closed Alvord Lake restroom into a kiosk and bocce courts (see illustration); a new sidewalk on the west side of Stanyan Street north of Haight; reconfiguration of the Haight Street park entrance, largely to discourage people from congregating there; and new trails and lighting in the small oak woodlands area between Alvord Lake and the closed segment of Waller street.

Members had a lot of questions about each of these components, but three aspects drew particular criticism.

There was much concern about the kiosk plan. Members’ criticisms included the further privatization of public resources this represents, the possible subsidy for a new business to compete with existing local merchants, and the lack of RPD interest in restoring a staffed public restroom (the kiosk plans include a single-person restroom).

haight street entrance proposalsThe second focus of concerns was the plan to remove the large semicircular planter and pilasters at the Haight Street entrance. Several members expressed concern that RPD was trying to exclude part of the public (i.e. young homeless people) from the park. Some asked whether some type of public art might be incorporated into this space, but this appears not to be within RPD’s vision for the area.

People also objected to the plan to add post-and-chain fencing along the edge of the grass in several places. Several felt that RPD was trying to keep people off the grass, which Dan Mauer said was not the case.

To see full details about the project or to contact the project manager go to: sfrecpark.org/project/stanyan-street/

 

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