Mountain Lake Park playground set for improvements 

click to enlarge Mountain Lake Park playground in SF's Richmond district
  • Camila Bernal/Special to The S.F. Examiner
  • Richmond district residents are raising $1.15 million to restore Mountain Lake Park playground.

A deteriorating playground in the Richmond district is poised for a major rehab effort as part of a $3.15 million project spearheaded by neighborhood leaders and city officials.

The Mountain Lake Park playground is more than 30 years old and has many outdated and dilapidated amenities, despite being visited frequently by neighborhood residents and their children.

The Recreation and Park Department, which oversees the park at 12th Avenue and Lake Street, allocated $2 million from its 2012 bond measure to help pay for improvements at the site, which is also a popular place for dog-walkers. A local neighborhood group, the Friends of Mountain Lake Park Playground, will raise an additional $1.15 million for site upgrades.

As a result of the investment, the aging playground will be torn down and replaced with a new structure featuring climbing nets, logs, seesaws and jumping discs, according to Rec and Park. A toddler area with swings and slides will also be built.

The new playground will incorporate elements of the park into the structure and was designed pro bono by the Bohlin Cywinski Jackson architectural firm.

"The area here is so beautiful, and the playground is just this antiquated relic," said Kate Green, a mother of three and member of the Friends of Mountain Lake Park group. "I think we're all looking forward to a new structure that will benefit not just the families here, but the people who come here specifically to visit the park."

Outside of the playground, the park will be outfitted with new irrigation systems and pathways that are more accessible for people with disabilities. Benches and public seating areas will be added for parents to watch over their children.

Supervisor Mark Farrell, whose district includes the park, said the improvements have been long awaited by people in the community.

"This is an area with a ton of young families and very engaged residents who use the field and playground for their activities," Farrell said. "The play structure has been outdated for decades, so there has just been a real strong community push to improve the nature of the park."

Phil Ginsburg, general manager of Rec and Park, said the extensive work put forth by the community made the park shovel-ready as soon as funding became available from the department's $195 million bond measure.

"This is just a great example of a successful private-public partnership," Ginsburg said.

Planning and design work for the park is projected to take more than a year, with construction slated to begin in March 2015 and be completed by 2016.

The playground rehab will follow cleanup efforts of the lake first started in 2001. Federal workers are in the midst of dredging the lake, which has long been troubled by contamination issues due to the nearby roadway.

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Will Reisman

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