Rome wasn’t built in a day — but playground will be 

For the past five years, Pierre Barolette has kept a guarded eye on his two young boys while they played on the Balboa Park playground, an aging edifice rife with splinters, rust spots and loose chains.

"The structure is so rickety," Barolette said. "It’s hard to relax when you see your children climbing around on such an old playground."

Barolette’s safety concerns — and those of the rest of the Mission Terrace community that neighbors the Balboa Park playground on San Jose Avenue — will be put to rest in a single day.

As part of its annual community outreach program, the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons will provide hundreds of staff to erect a new, state-of-the-art playground at Balboa Park on Tuesday.

For neighborhood residents dutifully used to bureaucracy’s sluggishness, having a playground erected in the course of day is a welcome change of pace.

"When we first started advocating for a new park, I didn’t think it would be done by the time my kids were still kids," Barolette said.

David Mauroff said the new playground will provide a vital link for the neighborhood.

"We would always have to travel to Glen Park or Diamond Heights to find an actual suitable playground," said Mauroff, who has a 5-year-old daughter.

Unlike the old playground, built in the 1970s out of metal and wood, the new Balboa Park playground will be composed entirely of synthetic materials, and will feature slides, pipe tubes, climbing ladders and disability access.

Another separate playground, geared toward children younger than 5, will also be built nearby.

Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval, whose district covers the Balboa Park playground, said there are more children attending public schools in the surrounding neighborhoods of the park than in any other area in San Francisco.

"This has been a community without a real gathering spot for too long," Sandoval said.

After some minor finishing work, the playground will be open to the public a few days later, according to Recreation and Department spokeswoman Rose Marie Dennis. The department razed the old playground last week and put up a concrete foundation in anticipation of the new structure, Dennis said.

wreisman@examiner.com

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Will Reisman

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