Dolores Park Renovations

Let the Renovations Begin

With a Fence Going Up, Dolores Park Renovations Begin

And there it is, folks.  The long-awaited renovations have kicked off this morning as contractors erected a fence bordering the northern half of the park.  But fear not!  Tallboy Terrace and other prized lowland territories will reopen in seven months, as the renovation shifts to the highlands.

[Photo: Chase Cain]

Hello Precita Park!

This Is Your Last Weekend in Dolores Park Before Renovations Begin

The weather is looking promising for a last hurrah of cheap beer drinking and inching away from terrible rap battles, as next Saturday will see the long-awaited park renovation groundbreaking, followed by a fence going up around the northern half of the park. Here’s the schedule:

9:00 a.m. –  The Dolores Park Volunteers and DPWorks will rake hipster hill on last time before the dust flies. This will be our moment to thank you, the neighbors, merchants, friends and supporters of Dolores. Coffee and pastry from Dolores Park Cafe.

10:00 a.m. - Welcome Remarks and Groundbreaking Ceremony.

We would also expect folks will make a run on the vendors, needing to stockpile an 18-month supply of weed truffles and other artisanal sundries, so you better get there early.

[Dolores Park Works]

As Renovations Begin, Half of Dolores Park to Close in March

Following months of delays and a long and often ridiculous community process (remember the astroturf proposal? Complaints of fresh grass causing childhood obesity??), the city's Department of Recreation and Park is finally ready to break ground on Dolores Park Rehabilitation Project.  Just in time for non-winter!

According Dolores Park Works' latest newsletter, the entire northern half of the park between 18th and 19th streets, including the tennis courts and Tallboy Terrace, are expected to close “around March 1” and remain closed throughout the year.  Once the northern section's portion of the project is completed, the southern half (with the exception of the playground) will close.

Jake Gilchrist of Rec. and Park says the entire project is expected to last until the Spring of 2015.

Dolores Park Works reports the entire project is slated to be $4m over budget because of delays, complications in keeping half the park open at all times, and the costs of construction rising since the project was approved in the depressed economy.

With that, you should plan in getting your Dolores Park fix over the coming weeks.  And once our preferred patch of grass gets ripped up, might we recommend slouching in Precita or Potrero del Sol?  While lacking the stunning views and frenzy Dolores provides, both are host to grass, clear skies, and nearby bodegas.  But if that's not enough, there's always Frat Mason.

Scott Wiener Seeks "Culture Shift" in Dolores Park Following Renovation

Scott Wiener, right, at Monday's “Breakfast and a Park Clean Up.”

During a Dolores Park community breakfast, Supervisor Scott Wiener announced that the oft-delayed Dolores Park Renovation project is slated to begin in January—only a few months past the previously announced date.  However, Wiener's comments about what will happen after the renovations are complete in 2015 were the most curious.

“Everything about this Park is going to be better,” Dolores Park Works quoted him saying. “But we need to make sure that when we reopen the Park we have a culture shift, and we need to get people to stop trashing it.  We want to make sure when it reopens, that this Park is going to continue to be really the gem of our park system.”

No doubt that the park gets trashed week after week—it's a shame and it would fantastic if it stopped. However, the tragedy of the commons is a very real thing and its rare to see any widely-used public space not get wrecked by its more apathetic users.  Park advocates like to claim that “leave no tracecampaigns will solve the Dolores Park litter 'crisis', but even if the all-responsible population Burning Man cannot help but leave leaps of garbage—that takes weeks to clean up—on the Playa, it seems impossible to imagine such a campaign would work in a city park.

Curious about how Wiener saw the cultural shift taking shape in the newly rehabilitated park, we reached out to him for more clarification on Twitter.

“[We] need a strong education campaign about treating the park with respect, accompanied with better enforcement.”

Better enforcement seems reasonable, at least on face.  In fact, in New York's Riverside Park, neighbors are making similar calls about their trash crisis, with one echoing Wiener's sentiment, telling the New York Times, “If this was their house, they would never do this. We need better enforcement.”

Of course, “better enforcement” isn't as practical as it might seem:

Despite such complaints, park officials say their options are limited. They have mostly pursued a strategy of flooding the area with maintenance workers early Monday morning. William Castro, the parks department’s Manhattan borough commissioner, said that despite the recent hiring of scores of new enforcement patrol officers, penalizing parkgoers was impractical. The officers, who carry clubs and mace, focus mainly on loud music and alcohol, which, he pointed out, were the source of even more complaints.

Littering regulations are difficult to enforce for a few reasons, especially when it comes to large groups of relatives and friends who remain in the park for hours. “For the officers, it’s time-consuming to observe, and then who are you going to give the summons to?” Mr. Castro said. “If you go into a large crowd and the person resists, arguments happen and things spin out of control.”

Then again, maybe “enforcement” will work just fine here.

Neighbor Seeks to Block Dolores Park Renovations—Because of Childhood Obesity

Despite the park's praised reputation as a boundless off-leash dog park and enhanced adult recreation emporium, a lone neighbor wants to further delay Dolores Park's already drawn-out renovation project.  For The Children.

According to an appeal filed last week by Dr. Claudia Praetel, the planned two off-leash dog play areas “are by no means acceptable to many families with school-aged children who are using this park.”  She elaborates:

Serious concern for loss of open space for children: Dolores Park is adjacent to 2 schools and has more than 8 other schools near by - desperate need for open space for children to run and play in order to stem childhood obesity pandemic.

The Mission has a very high to higher density of children aged 6-12 per net acre, a large park with open space is paramount to their healthy development in an inner city setting, were other parks may not be accessible to them.

That's right, with dozens of pugs let loose across the park, our so-called future won't have space to beat back their looming rotundity.  The only way to spare their waistlines is to hold up the entire park renovation.

Or, at least, that's the claim.

The appeal is willfully oblivious to the park's current popularity—as if blocking the renovation and a second “legal” off-leash dog area with it will magically disperse the hundreds of adultish people littered about daily.  But even so, no matter how wildly absurd the protest is, the city has to take it seriously.

“Unfortunately, right before the deadline, an appeal was filed of the Mitigated Negative Declaration for the Dolores Park project,” a legislative aide to Supervisor Wiener wrote Friday. “This triggers a hearing at the Planning Commission and could delay consideration of the project by the Recreation and Parks Commission.  A further appeal is then possible to the Board of Supervisors.”

What's even worse is this loner appellant could effectively derail the community-driven consensus redesign process; one that involved dozens—if not hundreds—of park users over the course of two years, specifically to avoid leaving anyone out.

“Did we not have an exhaustive community process to try and settle this? Now 'a concerned citizen' will hold up the much needed and truly vetted Dolores Park renovation,” Robert Burst, co-founder of Dolores Park Works, told us.

“This is not democracy, it's harassment.”

Below, the entirety of the appeal's text, for your amusement and grief:

[Photo by Niall Kennedy]

Dolores Park Renovations Are Good to Go

The planning process has had its ups and downs (remember that crazy proposal to astroturf Tallboy Terrace? I already miss the salad days of Dolores Park goofbaggery), and the project is nearly a year behind schedule.  But, according to Dolores Park Works, there's an stakeholder's agreement on the final proposal and a rough timeline as to when they'll break ground:

The final planning documents will be released in late February or early March,  and construction should begin this Fall, 2013. Rec and Parks new prediction for completion is Fall 2014.

According to Rec and Park, this revised plan includes improved ADA-compliant entries and pathways, renovated sport courts (including a new multi-use court), a new operations building beneath the basketball court, 2 new restroom buildings, removal of the current operations/restroom building, proposed improvements to the MUNI tracks, safe crossing across Church Street, entirely new irrigation and drainage, new picnic areas, a completely renovated multi-use field, 2 improved dog play areas, and overall rehabilitation of the landscape. This plan will be substantially the same plan approved in the community meetings over a year ago.

Originally, they were planning on taking 18 months to renovate, which would have had us lose two assuredly memorable summers of day-drinking, so this revised timeline is welcome news.

In the mean time, the Park's Department has been busy battling scrap metal thieves who have been dismantling the playground and cleaning up unwanted body parts.  Good times.

Dolores Park Renovations Potentially Delayed Due to Rejected Bathroom Designs

Mission Local reports:

The architects’ dreams of gaining approval for the second design phase of the Dolores Park Rehabilitation Project went down the toilet on Monday.

Arts commissioners didn’t like the design of the restrooms slated for the south side of the park, and asked the architects to come back with other suggestions.

“The curves work,” said Commissioner Ron Miguel, referring to the shape of the fences above the building.

But then you throw a box inside it, that doesn’t work,” he added, referring to the sharp edges of the building itself.

This might be a minor detail to some, but for project architects Susan Aitken and Aditya Advani, it means the entire project could be delayed.

Read on.

Dolores Park's New Country Club Appeal to Wow Children, Hipsters, and Geriatrics Alike

Despite all the nasty, excitable shit I've said about the Dolores Park Renovations, there's one change coming to the park I can absolutely get behind: fields of soft, fluffy new grass.  That's not to say I don't love Dolores Park the way it is now, because I do.  But it'll be oh-so-nice to not have to hunt for that lone patch of healthy turf in a park that presently looks like it's been accosted by flamethrowers and generations of dog shit.

Croquet league anyone?

Dolores Park Renovations Means Half the Park Will Be Closed For 1.5 Years

The city unveiled their planned schedule for the Dolores Park Renovations last night, and, unfortunately, we're going to have to give up a half of the park in two phases starting in February 2013 and ending way down the road in July 2014.

Here's their schedule:

  • Sept. 2012: Prep work phase construction begins
  • Dec. 2012: Prep work phase construction completion
  • Jan. 2013: RPD Commission awards construction contracts for Phase 1 & 2
  • Feb 2013: Phase 1 [the southern half of the park from 19th to 20th streets, including the clubhouse, the Fruit Shelf, picnicking areas, and the dog park] construction begins
  • Aug. 2013: Phase 1 construction substantial completion
  • Sept 2012: Phase 2 [the northern half from 18th and 19th streets, including the tennis courts, Tallboy Terrace and Hipster Hill] construction begins
  • July 2014: Phase 2 construction substantial completion

So starting in September, we're going to be sharing the park with heavy machinery and security guards for two long years.  How this will effect our daybeers and truffle economy remains to be seen.

Initial 3D Renderings of the New Dolores Park Unveiled & Approved

After all those grueling 'community meetings' we suffered through last year about what the future of Dolores Park would look like, the final 3D renderings of the project were approved by the Arts Commission yesterday.  And here it is:

The pathway up from the 18th and Church Muni stop, with the bike polo court and bathroom to the left.

Another view of the bike polo court/bathrooms, looking towards the Castro.

The bike polo court and bathrooms, from Google Earth's point of view.

The underground bathroom up by the playground.

The new handicap-accessible 19th Street entrance.

And the new 20th and Church plaza with more benches and less trees.

No real surprises here; everything looks like the way it was mapped out back in November and we still have until October to enjoy the park as-is before the city brings in the construction crew and tear the place up for 16 months.

And should you want to dive into the plans a little more for whatever reason, the full plan that was presented to the Arts Commission yesterday is up on the renovation website [PDF warning].

[h/t Mission Local]