Plans for the space at the corner of 17th and Folsom streets have fluctuated for years, but the community has finally submitted for a state grant and the Board of Supervisors unanimously supports the development of a park in that area.
Construction is scheduled to start this summer and the park will open in the summer of next year.
The process of attaining the grant was initiated in 2010, and last year the city received the funds from the state necessary to create the park. According to the San Francisco Planning Department, staff from the Planning Department, the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department, the San Francisco Department of Public Works and its community partner, People Organizing to Defend Environmental and Economic Rights (PODER), will be working together to complete the design and construction of the park.
In July 2012 it was decided that the park would become communal gardens. Currently the area where the park is planned is used as a UCSF parking lot; eventually one half of the lot will become the planned park and the other, community housing.
The park is currently planned to be about 32,000 square feet, part of which will be used for planned garden plots. The majority of the gardens will be designated for community groups, yet it is unclear if the general public will have access to the garden plots. The finalized plan for the management of the plots is still being worked out.
Members of the community and PODER hope to keep the garden access as local as possible, with an emphasis on the education of children about the importance of local farming. The park will have a shallow pool for kids to play with and will be lined with benches, fruit trees and an approximately 8-foot-high fence.
The entry gate is to be designed by San Francisco artist Carmen Lomas Garza. The park will have an amphitheater and exercise area, as well as a play area and a grassy area. There will be trilingual signs around the park telling the history of the indigenous people who lived in the area.
The planning of the park has not gone without criticism, mainly from those who use the parking lot that is already there, or business owners who rely on customers having access to that lot. They fear that the people who park there on a daily basis will have no other place to park but city planners claim that there are nearly 11,000 parking places in the surrounding area and have assured them that parking will not be a problem. While half of the current lot will become the park, half will remain parking lot and eventually be developed into affordable community housing.
Members of the community and PODER hope that the park and these new shared-use plots will offer more access for education and spur a sense of community in the area. If construction is completed as planned the community will be enjoying a new park by summer of 2014.