SAN FRANCISCO – The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department announced this week the re-opening of Mountain Lake Park Playground after its recent $3.15 million renovation funded by the 2008 and 2012 Clean and Safe Neighborhood Park Bonds, generous gifts of Friends of Mountain Lake Playground (FMLPP), the Presidio Trust, and funds secured by Supervisor Mark Farrell.
“Mountain Lake Park is a jewel for the surrounding neighborhoods and for our City,” said District 2 Supervisor Mark Farrell whose district includes Mountain Lake Park and Playground. “This renovation is a terrific example of the community and City partnering together to fight for necessary improvements and upgrades that generations will now be able use and enjoy for years to come.”
Located in the Inner Richmond district, Mountain Lake Park is a 15.2-acre park situated on a band of land bordered by the Presidio to the north and Lake Street to the south. Park amenities include a lakeside beach area, children’s play area, freestanding restroom, sport courts, an off-leash dog play area, and large natural lawn areas. The playground sits at the end of 12th Avenue, north of Lake Street, and is bound by the lake to the north, tennis courts to the east, private residences to the south and the freestanding restroom structure to the west. The restroom building recently went through a $2 million renovation funded by the 2008 Parks Bond and opened in 2014.
“Mountain Lake Park Playground was built nearly 30 years ago and needed a lot of improvements; our community came together, advocated for park bonds and private donations, all of which are why we are here today,” said Phil Ginsburg, SF Rec and Park General Manager. “This is a story of successful government and community partnerships; together we renovated the playground, increased access to the park, added a new picnic area, and irrigation and landscape upgrades.”
Mountain Lake Park is immediately adjacent to Mountain Lake itself, a natural lake situated largely within the boundary of the Presidio. It was here in 1776 that Spanish Captain Juan Bautista de Anza and his small band of explorers camped while scouting out the location to build their “presidio” or military fort. Over decades the lake’s health declined due to many factors including the construction of Highway 1 along the west shore of the lake to connect the Richmond District to the Golden Gate Bridge, which dramatically reduced the lake’s size and depth. Non-native species also found their way into the lake, causing some local plants and wildlife to disappear.
Over the past decade, the Presidio Trust, the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, and the National Park Service have worked with community volunteers and academic organizations to bring the lake back to life. Today, Mountain Lake has been deepened and native species have been returned, including the western pond turtle and pacific chorus frog. Each year, hundreds of local school children visit Mountain Lake to learn about the lake’s ecology through Presidio Trust-sponsored field trips. The Trust contributed $25,000 to support the creation of a group seating area at the new playground where school children can gather to learn about natural history during their visits.
“We’re delighted to partner with SF Rec and Park to make Mountain Lake a welcoming place for families from across the city.” said Jean Fraser, Chief Executive Officer of the Presidio Trust. “Now kids can come to play on the swings, take a walk around the lake, and even spot a turtle sunning on a log. It’s a place where nature, learning, and play come together.”
The Friends of Mountain Lake Park Playground have worked closely with SF Rec and Park over the past five years to develop a design that meets the needs of the community and honors the natural and historic setting. Public design meetings, surveys, and other forms of outreach were part of a truly collaborative process. The resulting community gathering space, designed pro bono by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson Architects, is state-of-the-art, accessible, and consistent with the historical and natural context of the site — a playground that will inspire and challenge children of all ages and abilities. BCJ Architects donated more than $400,000 in design services toward the project.
“Our goal was to make the playground feel as though it had always been there, on the shore of Mountain Lake,” said Aaron Gomez, Project Architect with Bohlin Cywinski Jackson Architecture Planning Interior Design. “We wanted it to be specific to this place, to this part of San Francisco, and nowhere else.”
“The Mountain Lake Park playground renovation brings a much-needed refresh to one of the Richmond District’s hidden treasures, with updated features in a beautiful natural setting to create a welcoming destination for neighborhood families and visitors,” said Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru.
“This amazing playground was the result of the successful partnership among civic, business and community groups. The beautiful and thoughtful design by BCJ was the culmination of community engagement feedback, historical and natural context provided by the Presidio Trust, and San Francisco Rec and Park’s support and early recognition for this project’s potential,” said Kate Green, founding member of Friends of Mountain Lake Park Playground. “We are thrilled that we will have a treasure in our backyard that will be enjoyed by children for generations.”
The San Francisco Parks Alliance has supported and fiscally sponsored Friends of Mountain Lake Park Playground since 2010, assisting in the fundraising campaign to raising over $300,000 from community members and donors, and contracting with the architect and other consultants to complete the design.
“The Friends of Mountain Lake Park Playground have worked tirelessly to improve a beloved playground not only for their children, but for those children and families throughout the neighborhood and the city who visit this beautiful park,” said Drew Becher, CEO of the San Francisco Parks Alliance. “Their commitment exemplifies the power of community engagement, which the Parks Alliance continues to support for playgrounds throughout the city.”