After a full year of participatory community design in 2011, the proposed Dolores Park Rehabilitation Plan is ready for commission and environmental review and then implementation. The Dolores Park community worked intensely through the fall to complete the proposed Rehabilitation Plan. In the final community design workshops, participants resolved the key remaining issues, including deciding to remove the existing bathroom and maintenance building and devising a creative plan to minimize paths across the park’s defining open lawns. The proposed plan is attached at the bottom of this post along with a review of the deliberations at the final design workshops.
PLAN REVIEW PROCESS
Now the proposed plan enters the commission and environmental review process. During 2012, the plan will be reviewed by the Arts Commission, the Planning Department and Commission and the Recreation and Park Commission.
- The Arts Commission will consider the plan several times as specified by the City’s Civic Design Review process. The Civic Design Review Committee is made up of architects and designers who conduct a three-phase review of new and renovated civic construction projects to ensure design quality of City structures. More information on Civic Design Review can be found at http://www.sfartscommission.org/CDR/home/
- The Planning Department will conduct an review of the proposed plans environmental impact at required by CEQA (The California Environmental Quality Act). “Environmental” review includes consideration of historic resources, which were an important topic in the planning process. More information on environmental review can be found at http://www.sf-planning.org/index.aspx?page=1570
- Once the environmental compliance is complete, the Recreation and Parks Commission will conduct a final review of the plan. More information about the commission can be found at http://sfrecpark.org/Commission.aspx
UPCOMING COMMUNITY MEETING ON PROJECT PHASING AND IMPLEMENTATION
During this review process, the Recereation and Park Department will host a community meeting to discuss the phasing of construction and consider any new issues that have arisen. The meeting will be widely publicized and all past participants will be directly notified. The date cannot be set now because the timing of the review process is unpredictable.
Like many issues in the planning of the park’s rehabilitation, construction phasing is going to require careful consideration and balancing–and significant community deliberation. Many people are interested in seeing the rehabilitation completed soon, but at the same time many people are wary of any significant disruption of use of the park. What is the best balance? Rehabilitating the park section-by-section? Only working in the off-season? Or is it better to do all the work in one stretch to get it done quicker minimizing the time of disruption? There are also many technical considerations regarding the sequencing of construction. These questions will be the focus of the community meeting agenda. Please watch this blog for updates and attend the meeting when it is announced.
BACKGROUND ON PAST DESIGN WORKSHOPS
Lastly, while it’s old news for the most active participants, we wanted to report on the final design workshops last fall to be sure everyone had all the background information as the project goes forward. The final two community design workshops were held October 20th and 27th in the Mission High School Cafeteria. These workshops accomplished two equally important goals:
- resolving the two major outstanding issues–the future of the clubhouse and the design of the paths on the northern half of the park.
- refining the planning and design of all the elements from the 19th St. Entrance Plaza to the new bathroom building architecture.
The project team started the penultimate workshop by reviewing the first complete draft plan bringing together all the community’s work to date. Throughout the presentation, the team highlighted the questions remaining: the future of the clubhouse, the paths, the building architecture and important other areas that hadn’t received close review by the whole community: the 19th Street Plaza, the entrances, tree management, benches and trash receptacles.
Recognizing the number and importance of the issues to consider, the session was planned to last 3 hours, rather than the normal 2, to give everyone ample time to deliberate. Participants broke into 12 small groups to first work on issues related to buildings and then the landscape. 9.5 of the 12 groups voted to remove the clubhouse, resolving one of the key outstanding questions. All the groups reacted favorably to the building architecture offering complementary refinements. For example, almost all of the groups favored a more traditional “hip” roof on the northern restroom and changes to southern restroom to better integrate it into the landscape.
In the landscape report backs, groups provided qualified support and refinements in each of the remaining areas. The refined path system without retaining walls was judged to be an improvement, but still not satisfactory to many. The 19th Street entry plaza was also an improvement, but many thought more could be done. These report backs set the agenda for the final week of design work and the final workshop.
In the week before the final workshop, the project team worked intensely with eachother and steering committee members to find creative resolutions to the remaining issues and develop plans that fully captured participants’ desires. This final collective push was a great success, maybe best exemplified by the resolution to the path discussion.
After the October 20th workshop, a widely supported resolution on paths seemed unlikely. Then in the days before the last workshop, the project team explored a new solution proposed by a Steering Committee member. This creative alternative was presented to the final workshop. After small group deliberation, 8 of 12 groups voted for this alternative path plan and smiles and handshakes were exchanged. The groups also reported back appreciation for the responsive refinements made to the buildings and landscape. The session and the community design process closed with everything on the “to do” list checked off and almost everyone in the room agreeing that the process was more productive and congenial than they could have expected.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
If you have any questions about the project, please contact the project manager, Jake Gilchrist, at 415-581-2561 Jacob.Gilchrist@sfgov.org