The southern half of Dolores Park is currently closed for renovations. The north side was recently reopened to the public. Photo Mabel Jiménez.

Throughout the Spring of 2015, students enrolled in the Journalism 575 Community Media class at San Francisco State University worked on a semester-long project in conjunction with El Tecolote titled “Growing up in The Mission.” The class was spearheaded by journalism professor Jon Funabiki, executive director of Renaissance Journalism at SF State. His students conducted interviews and reported on the neighborhood, to find out what it means to grow up in the Mission. The first installment in series is a three-part story on parks in the Mission District.

Dolores Park is undergoing a complete overhaul, upgrade, and image change, with the first of two stages having just been completed.

Funded by a 2008 ballot measure that San Francisco voters approved by 71 percent, the $13.2 million renovation began in 2012.

New, increased-capacity restrooms that have proper disability access, renovated recreation areas, better irrigation, and an emphasis on community gatherings, are all improvements that have been made at Dolores Park over the last year.

“The well-loved amenities of Dolores Park are in need of significant renovation,” according to a statement from the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department. “From mostly invisible infrastructure, such as irrigation and drainage, improvements to more apparent needs, across the board there are improvement needs.”

The initial improvement in 2012 came in the shape of a remodeled Helen Diller Playground, which sits in the valley of the south lawn.

“The old playground wasn’t too bad, but the kids didn’t want to come here that much,” said Stephanie Rosales, a mother of two, who has mixed feelings about the park.

Rosales said the atmosphere of the park is really hit or miss because of the boisterous crowd that often gathers there.

The Recreation and Parks Department hopes to change this atmosphere with the construction.

“Mission Dolores Park will be transformed into a world-class park that San Franciscans deserve,” the department’s statement continued.

Phase two of the plan, which is now underway, will continue work on the south lawn, making all but the playground inaccessible.

Jake Gilchrist is the project manager for the construction.

“All this work over the next year should pay off big when the whole park is completed,” said Gilchrist.