The Chron is reporting this morning a deal between the Parks dept. and neighborhood activist group, Friends of Dolores Park Playground. This breaks a 6 month logjam in the design process that has had many of us worried. After the exciting announcement that the Friends had secured a $1.5 million grant to help fund the rebuild and two productive community meetings, all fell silent. The late summer ’08 date for presenting the final plans passed without an update from the friends and a final third community meeting was canceled. Had the playground renovation stumbled into one of the many pits that has trapped Dolores Park supporters in the past?
All now seems well. The Friends web-site has posted a sketch of the new playground that includes many fun and whimsical elements such as a mini Bay Bridge and two new boats. And the third community meeting will now go forward on May 14, 6:30 pm at the Mission High cafeteria.
Jared Blumenfeld, who took over as interim general manager of the department last year, seems to be taking much of the credit for the deal. He is quoted in today’s Chron as saying when he first met with the Friends and donors, “it was pretty clear there were a lot of obstacles put in their way. They felt, rightly so, that simple questions took months to answer – everything seemed to be an issue,” he said. “All the issues seemed fairly easy to resolve.” The department is quoted as calling the deal, “a new model they hope will help usher in more community-supported park projects across the city”.
Jared does seem to to be determined to bring some much needed changes to the way the Parks dept. does things and it looks like he has the skills to bring it off. However, the Friends of Dolores Park Playground should get the major share of the praise. They have been tenacious, good willed and open as this tight-knit group of young organizers has steered this pioneering project along.
Let’s all come out to to the next community meeting and cheer them on.
BTW- Friends of Dolores Park Playground have planned an event for kids and their families this Saturday, Chalk up the Playground. Its at Dolores Park Playground, 11 am to noon.