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?