Jan 18, 2015

Photos from January workday

A large group from the neighborhood and families from the SF Day School were part of our community workday last weekend, the first of 20150. Working with some our gardener and also some extra support from Rec and Park, our major project was to spread healthy soil in the meadow between Lyon and Central. We also amended the soil beneath the laurel trees in the meadow between Masonic and Central. And a group of our regular volunteers took care of the plants in our rain garden by removing weeds and eucalyptus leaves.

We had a huge pile of soil from the city's compost yard to work with

Working together to spread a thin layer of soil in the bare spots.  

The grass in the meadow between Lyon and Central will resprout through the soil. 

Curb access work finishes at Cole and starts at Ashbury

The four access points into the park at Cole Street - two on the south side and two on the north - are all rebuilt. A few construction cones remain, but they're all open for public use. (See previous post on this work at Cole St.).
Entering the park from Cole @ Fell Street

Leaving the park to Cole @ Oak. The pathway doesn't align with the crosswalk. 
Now, similar access work has begun at the southwest connector from Oak Street at Ashbury, and a long stretch is dug up. Because the entire stretch from the street to the gardener's shack is dug up, people walking on the south path can't get around, and so the work crew positioned a barrier and sign stating that the path is closed. It's aggravating to see a closure like that affecting the park during a busy holiday weekend.
South path closed between Clayton and Ashbury, 1/17/15
Rebuilding starts on path from Ashbury @ Oak 
South path blocked by the work

Jan 14, 2015

Panhandle playground chosen for renovation

In December, the city announced that the children’s playground located in the Panhandle was among six playgrounds selected for renovation using the funds of the 2012 San Francisco Parks Bond.

The current play structures and design were last rebuilt with support from the Saturn car company 15 years ago this spring. The playground has earned a “D” or “C” rating in recent years. Playgrounds with poor ratings such as these were assessed in a city-wide process last year that involved members of the community, the San Francisco Parks Alliance, and the Rec and Parks Department.

Judging by the amount of funds made available for the six playgrounds selected, the playground renovation will be about a $2-$3 million project. The Parks Alliance reports that an implementation plan is expected in March. A process for community input into the playground’s design has not yet been established.

 In my view, this new capital improvement project presents several opportunities:

1. Incorporate interpretation of the park’s history. The park’s most distinctive feature is our mature trees, and their enduring beauty should be celebrated. A historical sign could explain the context of their planting by the early visionaries of San Francisco’s park system. This would also fit with recognizing Elizabeth McClintock, who was the Curator of Botany for the California Academy of Sciences and who authored The Trees of the Panhandle in 1964 when the park was threatened by highway construction. McClintock, a scientist, author, and advocate, died in 2004, and I know of no public memorial elsewhere.

 2. Include new gardener’s hut/tool shed. The current hut is in very poor condition, and the adjacent tool shed (which is a shipping container) is an eyesore. The gardener can do a better job maintaining the playground and supporting the regular volunteer stewardship programs that take place in the park with a modern facility.

3. Make a more prominent and welcoming entrance. One thing that would be great for families arriving by bike would be to include racks and space for bike parking both outside and inside the gate.

4. Consider an alternate site within the park. The current playground site is hemmed in by mature trees, which may limit options for modifying its design. The trees also present a maintenance burden due to constantly falling eucalyptus leaf and bark litter, as well as some hazard of falling limbs. Lastly, they might make the construction very tricky. The open asphalt covered area just east of the restrooms covers twice the space of the current playground and I strongly urge that site be assessed for the playground. It would be important to evaluate whether there would still be enough space left for the occasional party tents, porta-potties, and dumpsters that get stationed in that zone, and also how it would affect the groups that use the space informally (e.g., tai chi, martial arts, kid’s soccer). If the playground were re-situated, the current playground could stay in operation during construction, and then afterwards, that site could be transitioned back to open space, or a community garden, or a sports court (such as petanque or bocce).

Jan 6, 2015

First community workday of 2015: this Saturday, January 10

Our monthly community workday at the Panhandle Park is coming up this weekend. Mark your calendars for Saturday, January 10: 

Panhandle Community Workday
Saturday, January 10, 2015
9 am - 12 noon
Meet at the gardener's shack by the playground (close to Oak @ Ashbury) 

Gloves and tools are provided, but feel free to bring your own gloves if you prefer.  The forecast is for clear skies!