Richmond Roundup

GG Park soccer fields to get EIR
Despite getting approval from the SF Recreation and Park Commission to replace the grass soccer fields in the west end of Golden Gate Park with synthetic turf and install night-time lighting, the SF Recreation and Park Department decided in early May to conduct a full Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on the project. The EIR will delay the $12.5 million project for about a year. The Audubon Society and other environmental groups called for the study, saying the plan could affect birds and other wildlife.

Merchants honored at luncheon
The Greater Geary Boulevard Merchants and Property Owners Association held a luncheon April 28 to recognize local businesses that have had a positive impact on the Richmond District. Honored were: Curt Cournale, from Cournale & Co.; Nino Parker, a graffiti removal specialist who works for the City; Bonnie Huynh, from the Bank of America; Jimi Harris and Mary Jung, both of whom work at PG&E; Lynn Bunim, from AT&T; and two press relations experts, Evette Davis and Alex Tourk. The keynote speaker for the affair, which was held at the Magdalena Hall at 3255 Balboa St., was SF Chronicle columnist C.W. Nevius.

Playground re-opens
Lincoln Park Playground received an "F" grade in the Neighborhood Parks Council's 2006 and 2008 playground report cards. The playground had out-lived its lifespan. Swing chains were rusty, the metal slide bed was corroded, wooden equipment was worn out and the sand was dirty. The Playground Initiative and the Friends of Lincoln Park Playground held two workdays at the site in 2008 to keep the playground safe and clean until the Friends' dream of a complete renovation could be realized. On April 23, the newly renovated Lincoln Park Playground, paid for in part with a $500,000 grant from the Safeway corporation, opened to the public. At the opening, SF Recreation and Park Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg and SF Supervisor Eric Mar joined the Friends of Lincoln Park Playground and hundreds of local children and parents for a ribbon cutting ceremony.

High school's budget cut by $1M
The budget for George Washington High School was cut by more than $1 million for the upcoming school year. That has parents, teachers and administrators scrambling to make up the deficit. According to Washington Principal Ericka Lovrin, the school needs $250,000 just to pay for supplies, including textbooks, pencils, paper and copiers. Also lost would be substitutes for field trips, a full-time nurse and eight teachers necessary to replace retiring teachers. As a way to make up the deficit, Lovrin and the Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) are going to ask one million people to give one dollar each in the school's "George for George" program. "If we reach one million people, one dollar at a time, we will meet our goal," Lovrin said. Contributions can be sent to Washington, care of "Save our School," at 600 32nd Ave., SF CA 94121.

Library to collect culinary history
The Senator Milton Marks/Richmond Branch Library is collecting and documenting the eating habits of the Richmond District as part of "Richmond Eats," a pilot program whereby the firm Internet Archive digitalizes and preserves information for future generations. Residents are encouraged to bring their old menus and food-related photographs to the library so they can be scanned. All items will be returned to donors. The scanning will take place from June 1 - 5. Residents are encouraged to bring up to five restaurant menus, recipes or food-related photographs from the 1850s to the present, that celebrate the diverse culinary heritage of the Richmond. The scanned images will become library property, to be used by students, researchers and the general public, and preserved in the city's archives. In addition to the images, library staff will ask patrons to fill out an online registration form containing a few simple questions about any known history of the images and their own family history. The library's scanning hours are: 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 1 and Wednesday, June 2; 1 - 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 3; 1 - 4 p.m. on Friday, June 4; and 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 5. A Russian translator will be available as needed and a Chinese translator will be on site for the duration of the project. The Richmond Branch Library is located at 351 Ninth Ave. A list of frequently asked questions about the project is available at the website at or by calling the library at (415) 355-5600.

Hall of Fame inducts honorees
Nine athletes and one official were inducted into the SF Prep Hall of Fame May 15 at a ceremony at the Patio Espanol Restaurant. Among the honorees from the west side were: Robert Bleggi, who played baseball and basketball at Polytechnic High School (1958-1962); Mareen "Peanut" Louie Harper, who played tennis at George Washington High School (1975-1978); Janice Salomon, who played tennis at Lowell High School (1995-1999); and Stan Sheriff, who played football at Washington High School (deceased: 1949-1952). Over the last 28 years, the Hall of Fame has honored 310 athletes who have contributed to city athletics. The organization also awarded two scholarships this year to city athletes, including one to Angie Yee, the current student body president at Washington High School. She plays volleyball and softball and has a 3.5 grade point average.

McCoppin students learn about solar power
Students at Frank McCoppin Elementary School spent a part of their day with their local city supervisor and experts to learn about "clean" solar energy. About 100 students gathered in the schoolyard with their teachers and McCoppin Principal Bennett Lee on May 14 to hear SF Supervisor Eric Mar, the National Energy Education Development Project's Barry Scott and PG&E; representative Papia Gambelin talk about renewable energy. During the presentation, students used small solar panels to have electric car races, and to make mini solar house fans and other appliances to go with a solar house, which was also created by the students. Frank McCoppin Elementary School is located at 651 Sixth Ave.

Argonne students read poems
Students at Argonne Elementary School spent April 29 walking around campus with their favorite poems in their pockets. They would read the poem to anyone, on demand, throughout the day. The students studied poetry in April as a way to learn techniques for self-expression. One kindergarten class chose individual Mother Goose poems to read and/or recite, and a first grade class took individual words from Shel Silverstein's poem "One inch Tall" and re-arranged the words to create their own poems. City officials were also present to read poetry, which was a part of April's National Poetry Month. Attending Argonne and reading poems of their own choosing were Richmond Station Capt. Richard Corriea, SF Supervisor Eric Mar, SF Librarian Luis Herrera and SF Recreation and Park Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg. Argonne is located at 680 18th Ave.

Commission honors local establishments
As part of the sixth annual SF Small Business Week in May, two local businesses were honored by the SF Small Business Commission. Among this year's honorees are the 4 Star Theatre, which was chosen by SF Supervisor Eric Mar for its significant contribution to the Richmond District community, and the Presidio Bowling Center, which was chosen by SF Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier for its significant contribution to the vitality of San Francisco and its support of youth scholarship opportunities. There were 15 businesses recognized this year, one each from the 11 members of the SF Board of Supervisors and four by Mayor Gavin Newsom, for their outstanding contributions to the community and the vitality of San Francisco. They were honored at City Hall on May 18. San Francisco Small Business Week (SF SBW) is a partnership that honors and supports San Francisco's small businesses through a series of educational and networking events that inspire, educate and connect the small business community. "On behalf of the Small Business Commission, I would like to congratulate each of the honorees for their outstanding contribution to their neighborhoods and to the City and County of San Francisco." said Irene Yee Riley, president of the Small Business Commission.

Fire Department gives firefighting demonstration
The San Francisco Fire Department hosted a fire drill on May 21. The demonstration utilized the high pressure water supply system, also called the Auxiliary Water Supply System, to show the use of underground water storage tanks. The demo drafted water from cisterns, located throughout the City, which are marked distinctly by red bricks. There are about 177 cisterns throughout the City, each capable of holding an average of 75,000 gallons of water. When sources of water are exhausted elsewhere, fire fighters can tap the cisterns and draft water with hoses above ground to fight large-scale fires.

Art exhibit celebrates nature and wildlife
A group of artists, designers and architects from around the world have created imaginative habitat structures along trails, paths and roadways around Fort Scott to serve the Presidio's animal "clients." Called Presidio Habitats, the exhibits come to life by an audio tour, available by cell phone, and at an indoor Exhibition Pavilion. The exhibits will be on display for one year, ending on May 15, 2011. There is an array of special events that accompany the free exhibit and invite the public to interact with the art and the park. Presidio Habitats was organized by the FOR-SITE Foundation, in partnership with the Presidio Trust. For directions, details and an exhibition guide, visit the website at

New film by former Richmond resident
Former Richmond District resident and master puppeteer Basil Twist has created a new documentary that will be featured at the San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival in June. Twist created "Arias with a Twist," which features himself and performance artist Joey Arias. In the film, the two main actors explore the creative process to create a new groundbreaking theatrical show. Twist, who now lives in New York City, has created numerous shows, including "Symphonie Fantastique," "Petrushka" and "La Bella Dormente nel Bosco." He premiered his second opera, "Hansel and Gretel" with The Houston Grand and Atlanta Opera companies. The 34th annual film festival runs June 17 - 27 at the Castro, Victoria and Roxie theaters in the City and the Elmwood Theater in Berkeley.

Presidio Golf Course Honored for "Green" Greens
With its spectacular panoramic views of San Francisco and the Pacific Ocean and its rich and colorful history, the Presidio Golf Course is one of the park's defining features and contributes to the Presidio's National Historic Landmark status. The course has also been recognized as a leader in environmentally sensitive golf course management. Operating within the Presidio Trust's guidelines, Superintendent Brian Nettz tends the course with innovative practices that marry top-quality playing conditions with high-quality agronomic standards and environmental sensitivity. His efforts have earned Nettz the prestigious Turfgrass Excellence Award in the public category from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of Northern California. "This award shines brightly not only on the work of Brian Nettz and his crew," says Jeff Deis, chief operating officer of the Presidio Trust, "but it also showcases the Trust's commitment to sustainability." By taking a preventative approach to pest control and focusing on alternatives to pesticides, the golf course has been able to cut its pesticide use in half in the last decade and now uses 70 85 percent less pesticide than private courses in San Francisco. For instance, instead of chemical pesticides, groundskeepers spray a "compost tea"- a solution made by soaking compost in water to extract nutrients from the compost - on the course's greens to control disease and promote turf health. They've also employed "cultural control" techniques, like aerating and over-seeding fairways and increasing drainage, to create conditions more favorable to turf and less favorable to weeds. Groundskeepers have even gone so far as to change the type of turf and trim tree branches to reduce shade on certain holes in an effort to control the invasive, worm-like nematode. Built in 1895, the Presidio Golf Course is the second oldest course in Northern California, and boasts a storied past that is an eclectic blend of military history, golf history and American culture. President Theodore Roosevelt reviewed the troops there in May of 1903. Three years later, the course was used as a refugee camp for survivors of the 1906 earthquake. Joe DiMaggio played there. So did Babe Ruth, not to mention Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. For its first 100 years, the course was restricted to members of the military and the exclusive Presidio Golf Club. That all changed in 1995 when the course opened to the general public.

Lyme Disease on the Rise in San Francisco
May was recognized federally and statewide as May Lyme Disease Awareness month, since tiny ticks, the size of a poppy seed, emerge in the spring and bite animals and people. If they are infected, animals can become infected with Lyme Disease, a bacterial infection that invades nerves and soft tissues, causing inflammation and body-wide symptoms that are often misdiagnosed as other health conditions, including fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, autism, MS, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and ALS. There have been several tick bites in San Francisco since the insect first arrived in the City several years ago. One was in Golden Gate Park. Ticks wait on vegetation and on wood for a passing animal. A certain percentage is infected in every region. Indoor/outdoor pets can also pick up ticks outside and bring them indoors. Five people so far are known to have contracted Lyme disease and co-infections in San Francisco. They were reportedly bitten at Crissy Field, in the Marina District and a backyard in the West of Twin Peaks area, Diamond Heights Park, and at Golden Gate Park, at 19th Avenue and MLK Drive (on the hillside behind the children's playground). When outside, walk in the center of the path, without touching vegetation or wood unless using a tick repellent, and wear light-colored clothing to more easily see any small dark ticks. Wear shoes and socks, long pants and shirt, both tucked in, and wear a hat. (Tick repellent is also recommended.) For more information, go to the website at

Students meet top athletes
During the past year, George Washington High School athletes regularly tutored Lafayette Elementary School students. In recognition of their achievements, students from Lafayette and Washington got to meet Giants' baseball center fielder Aaron Rowand and University of San Francisco basketball players Michael Williams and Rashad Green at Lafayette May 11 in a year-end celebration of Washington High's AIMS (Athletes In Math Succeed) program.

Green Apple wins award
The Small Business Network gave an award for small businesses with less than 25 employees to Green Apple Books, located at 506 Clement St. Richard Savoy founded Green Apple in 1967 because of his deep love of the written word. As well, music lovers frequent the popular bookstore.

Local resident's new film
Richmond District resident Jon Bowden has created a new film, "The Full Picture," which will debut in San Francisco and other Bay Area venues. "The Full Picture" will be shown at the Roxie Theater June 11 through June 17. It will also be shown at theaters in Berkeley and San Raphael. The movie was shot in San Francisco and Oakland using local actors. It is an "honest and comical story about a dysfunctional-family implosion." Bowden began his film career by writing, directing and producing the short film "Downtown," which played two sold-out screenings at the 1999 Mill Valley Film Festival. In 2003, he wrote the three-act play "Big Mouth," which debuted at The Actors' Theatre of San Francisco. In 2005, Bowden adapted "Big Mouth" for the screen and named it "The Full Picture," which earned critical acclaim at numerous film festivals.