news, gossip and scenes

Dolores Park Revovations Delayed

In Dolores Park, Mission Dolores, Playground, Renovation on February 3, 2010 at 11:01 am

Ground breaking for the new $3.25 million Hellen Diller Playground in Dolores Park has been pushed back till Fall.  Mary Hobson, Rec and Park project manager, Capital Improvement Division, told us, “I just received an updated schedule from the landscape architect working on the playground project.  Design is scheduled to be completed in late May. It typically takes us three to four months to solicit bids, award and certify a contract, and then get the contractor out and ready to start work.” We can now plan for the playground to close and construction to begin in October, with reopening in April or May of 2011.
 Park managers have been told that once construction on the play area begins, we should expect much of the south end of the park to be fenced off for 8 months.

The Friends of Dolores Park Playground have been working for a total renovation of the play area for some time. Their vision, the construction of a new “World Class” playground with an emphasis on natural materials, is soon to be a reality. The Friends group have secured a private grant for up to $1.5 million to help with the cost. Nancy Gonzales-Madinsky, the Friends Group chair has told us that there were some items on their wish list that did not fit the budget, a wind sculpture was one.  The group has decided to go ahead and include these “Bling Bling” features in the final plans and are now seeking private funding to cover the $250 thousand short fall.

Planning for a greater Dolores Park renovation is slated to begin shortly. Hobson  tells us that, “We are going through the bond sale process right now. In fact the Board of Supervisors process is kicking off on Wednesday. If all goes well I hope to have designers ready to start working right away.”  This renovation is authorized  to include the courts, field, and clubhouse; restoration of existing roads and pathways; upgrades to subsurface infrastructure, irrigation and lighting; modifications to the site to remove barriers and improve accessibility, and overall reconditioning of the park landscape.  Construction should start in December, 2011. Much of the park will be fenced off for this project, according to park department representatives. Hobson believes that her original estimate of 16 months may be too much. and it could now be  ”substantially less” , now that the playground is being handled as a separate project.

Community meetings on the greater $11.7 million renovation of the park  are  expected to begin in late May or June. We can plan for about three public meetings over the course of four months.

So, it looks like we may have the new playground open in Spring 2011 and the greater park fenced off for the winter and spring of 2011-2012, at least. This is hard to visualize and plan for. What maybe even harder to plan for is a vision of what Dolores park should look like at the end of all this dust and mud. As one prominent park neighbor told me, this is a renovation that needs to last for 30, 40 or 50 years. We need to build a park that can adapt to future changes. What would you like to see in a rejuvenated Dolores Park?

  1. Is it possible to see more specifically what is meant by “overall reconditioning of the park landscape”? And why must the full two square blocks and central strip be closed for two years, why not do it in pieces? Thank you.

  2. Janas, the “overall reconditioning line” authorizes the project to finish off the park with grass, bushes,and plants, I believe. The reason the park needs to be fenced off is because it is a big project. All the water pipes and drainage need to be redone. Your concerns about losing this valuable asset for such a long time a most valid. Let Park and Rec, Capitol Improvement office know of your concerns. e-mail RPD Project Manager Mary Hobson ( Mary has said that the 18 month estimate may be too cautious and that the project could be finished in “significantly less time”. And the playground is beginning first, September or October of this year. And will be finished and open first.

    Start thinking and writing now about what you would like Dolores to look like when it is finished and send your comment to the Park Department. Open Public meetings will be begin this Summer. We have a voice in this project. Everyone can participate in the design and planning of the renovated

  3. Thank you, I will write her. Mostly I’m concerned about how the lay of the land is to change, and wondering if this will turn out like the old Union Square remod (a great disappointment). And I don’t see why they couldn’t close one half at time.

    Thanks again.

  4. Yes, we need to preserve the character of Dolores, the sweeping grassy slopes, the palms. If we go nuts with a wish list of wants and needs, we run the danger of crowding in too much stuff. Or dividing up the space into individual domains. This is going to be fun.

  5. Hello– thanks for this forum.

    I do like the idea of thinking long-term, 30-40 years into the future, and seeing if all these improvements, if you will, will have been so necessary? I hope I’m surprised. Above all, I hope it doesn’t look too ‘Disney’…….too brightly lit at night (ironically), too cultivated. One of the things I like about our neighborhood, and park, is that it has an ‘edge’— which is dissapperaing in SF for certain.

    I’m also I like that the was mention of a focus on open spaces. With regard to the new playground, I’m suspicious there will be a fence around the perimeter, I understand people want to keep dogs out, but I believe it is the owners’ responsibility to do so, not the City’s. Any barrier creates a barrier, either physically or psychologically. I think if you see a fence, you’re going to think “private space”, not “public space”.

    Speaking of the Playground, which I know is a seperate issue, I’m glad to see that kids of all ages (i.e. ‘adults’ too) will be included, and encouraged to play along. I’d hate not to have a similar ‘Old Big Swing’ like there exists now, the kind I used to swing on as a kid— and I hope the new one is similar, so when it’s appropriate, Big Kids like myself can swing, too!

    Re: the colors of the kids’ areas– I also hope it is toned-down and fits in with the landscape, that the chosen colors are not too distracting or bright. And why a Flag, if the whole play area is visual enough. Again, another signal of ownership, even if it has a smiley face on it— in the middle of the park it will be a distracting eyesore.

    And will The Super Slide, as cool as it sounds, will it obstruct the skyline view at all? (I’m guess not, altho I think those at “Dolores Beach” on the south side hill area will see something entirely new in their midst— I’m not a social scientist, but will that change the existing culture as it is now? Will gay boys sunning themselves on the hill be asked to cover up their bikinis…now that children are around? I’m just sayin’……..

    I’m leary of too many changes, although I want to stay hopeful. Thanks for listening. -D

  6. All good questions Don. For more indepth info on the Playground rebuild, scheduled to start this fall, go to the Friends of Dolores Park Playground. I know the plans call for the use of lots of natural materials and a natural seperation of the playground and the rest of the park.
    And yes, the Supper Slide is right in the middle of Gay Beach.

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