New Lincoln Park Playground Planned

Lincoln Park Playground, at 33nd Avenue and Clement Street, bears the problems of many of the city's decades-old recreation areas, agree residents of the community and officials with the city government. The playground is plagued by rusted metal and arsenic in the wood, and no barriers separate the playground from the street and sidewalk - standard protocol in the construction of such facilities today.

But help is on the way, promise officials with San Francisco's Recreation and Park Department.

While local residents have been grappling with funding shortages and bureaucratic hangups for years, the formal planning phase for finalizing and fine-tuning the renovation may be as little as one month away, said Megan Tiernan, project manager with the Recreation and Park Department's Capital Division.

Funding for the planned renovation has come from various sources. In 2002, the now-defunct supermarket chain Albertsons was in the midst of a restructuring project adjacent to the playground, and to quell protests among local residents concerned that the building might negatively affect the experience of park users, Albertsons paid $200,000 in November of that year to the Recreation and Park Department.

"Albertsons was building a containment wall and they couldn't avoid encroaching on the city's property," said Dan Mauer, another project manager with the Recreation and Park Department's Capital Division. "The money was paid as mitigation for that."

At the time, Albertsons also agreed to pay another $300,000 to the City five years later. That deadline arrived in November, 2007. The money was not immediately available, however, and procurement of the additional funds is still being negotiated, said Tiernan.

An additional $992,000 of city revenue is available for the Lincoln Park renovation, as well, according to Mauer.

The money derives from approximately $27 million allotted through a 2006 revenue bond.

Lincoln Park neighborhood coalitions and residents of the community have been discussing possibilities for restoring the playground since the mid-1990s, said Norman Kondy, a member of the Lincoln Park Homeowners Association.

"We had some great visions back in the '90s to build a miniature soccer field, a promenade entryway to the GGNRA forest, move the playground back from the street, separate it from the street with a barrier and replace the equipment, but it's remained in its old condition for years."

Kondy estimates that such plans might have required $2 million to $3 million to realize, however, and when the final installment of revenue from Albertsons arrives, the available budget for Lincoln Park will stand at a relatively meager $1.5 million.

According to Jim Argo, a member of the Lincoln Park Neighborhood Association, many residents of the local community have lost some hope that the renovation will take place, but according to Mauer, the Recreation and Park Department will begin an outreach program within weeks to welcome neighbors and local residents to public meetings and planning discussions.

With the passage of Proposition A in early February, 13 other Recreation and Park playgrounds in San Francisco, including Mission Dolores Park, Lafayette Park, the Chinese Recreation Center, and Sunset, Cabrillo and Fulton playgrounds, will receive $151 million in bond money for retrofits and improvements in coming years. The money will also be directed toward the improvement of the city's other public facilities, like restrooms, golf courses, trails and community centers.

Currently, the building adjacent to the Lincoln Park Playground lies vacant, and some neighbors are concerned about future construction projects on the property.

"The neighborhood does wonder what will be built and what it'll look like," said Anna Yatroufis, member of the Friends of Lincoln Park. "They want to make sure they have a say in what gets built and whether they'll still be able to enjoy a sense of space, a view, open air and light."

Neither the property's landlord nor district Supervisor Jake McGoldrick could be reached as of presstime to discuss future plans for the location.