San Francisco’s Dolores Park undergoes renovation

San+Francisco%27s+Dolores+Park%2C+a+beloved+landmark+to+many+Urban+School+students%2C+is+completing+a+%2413.2+million+renovation+that+began+last+June+and+is+aimed+at+enhancing+children+play+areas.+

Sonja Bartlett

San Francisco’s Dolores Park, a beloved landmark to many Urban School students, is completing a $13.2 million renovation that began last June and is aimed at enhancing children play areas.

Ella McLeod, Staff Writer

A beloved San Francisco park is in the last stage of a major renovation aimed at making it cleaner and safer for the city’s children and families.

On Oct. 27, the Dolores Park Community Outreach Project held a meeting where it was decided that the clubhouse will be knocked down and replaced with grass.  It was also decided that there will be a tai chi plaza and an alternative maintenance path, according to Friends of Dolores Park Playground, a volunteer community organization whose mission is to make Dolores Park safe and clean.

Dolores Park has played an integral part in San Francisco’s history. Before becoming the park it is today, it served as a Jewish cemetery and a refugee camp for the survivors of the 1906 earthquake.

The park is quite small, with a bowl-shaped landscape providing the perfect setting for symphony concerts, movies, performances of the SF Mime Troupe, tai chi, tight-rope walking, dog-walking, sunbathing, and getting together with friends.

Dolores Park is a popular spot among Urban students.  According to 100 students who responded to a recent Legend survey, 24 percent go to Dolores Park every couple of weeks.

Though many love the park as it has always been, beginning in June 2011, the park has been under constant construction.

According to Connie Chan, the deputy director of public affairs at the San Francisco Recreation and Park department, the whole project will cost about $13.2 million. The playground itself will cost about $3.2 million, with 46.2 percent coming from gifts, 7.7 percent from the city’s general fund, and the rest coming from a city bond measure.

According to Friends of Dolores Park Playground, the new play structure will be built specifically to help children learn and develop.

The toddler section will feature climbing structures, teeter-totters, spinners, a boat, and a sound garden.  The children section, for 5- to 12-year-olds, will have a large mound with slides and tubes to climb through, a wood cluster climber, another boat, a net climber, a natural climbing stone, and a swing set.

Though this layout involves many new structures, it will lack the traditional form of a playground. Contemporary playground designs contain new objects and structures that could potentially change the way kids have always played.

Not only is the playground changing, but Dolores park will have a new maintenance building, two new restrooms, a multi-use court, a new picnic area, and two off-leash dog areas.

Whatever the changes, many Urban students have fond memories of Dolores Park. “To me, it was an integral part of my childhood and adolescence, having grown up in the neighborhood, and a place that held very important memories and emotional significance for me,” said one student who responded to the Legend survey.

“I think it’s a great thing for the city, and it’s going to be great for the young families and their kids that live here to have a safer and cooler place to play,” said Leah Schummer (‘14). “(San Francisco) is generally good about being unique and I think remodeling the playgrounds is something special and unique to the city.”