SF Recreation and Park Policies and Initiatives to Be Highlighted at Statewide Conference

SAN FRANCISCO – San Francisco Recreation and Park Department announced today the Department’s recreation initiatives and park policies will be highlighted at the annual conference held by California Park and Recreation Society (CPRS), a statewide nonprofit organization founded in 1946 to strengthen California’s public parks, and recreation industry and its professionals. Some 86 percent of CPRS members work for park and recreation agencies throughout California. In addition, over 175 park and recreation agencies are themselves CPRS members. The conference will end tomorrow, Friday, March 3rd.

“We know that San Franciscans truly love their parks, and we are fortunate to have so many great open spaces in our city,” said Mayor Edwin M. Lee. “Over the past decade, we have invested $600 million into our park system, to ensure that San Francisco families can continue to enjoy these treasures. We feel honored that those efforts are being recognized by the California Park and Recreation Society.”

“We are so pleased that the excellent accomplishments contributed by many hardworking men and women of the SF Rec and Park Department are being recognized on a statewide stage by fellow park and recreation professionals,” said Phil Ginsburg, the Department’s General Manager. “We are excited that CPRS is honoring San Francisco as a leader in stewarding public parks and providing healthy recreation.”

General Manager Ginsburg will be a panelist on the CPRS thought leader panel to discuss public policies managing one of most complex park systems in California. The discussion will range from policies governing socioeconomic issues impacting parks and their users to managing resources and staffing to operate more than 4,000 acres of parkland including world renown landmarks such as Coit Tower, Palace of Fine Arts and more.

Moreover, Jacob Gilchrist, a Supervising Project Manager for SF Rec and Park’s Capital Planning team, will too be a panelist to discuss critical community outreach tools and methods that can be utilized during a public process to plan and design park improvement projects. One of Mr. Gilchrist’s signature park improvement projects is the Mission Dolores Park Improvement, a $20 million project funded by park bond funds. Mission Dolores Park, a 14-acre park that includes one playground, multiple sports and tennis courts, dog play areas, two large lawns and multiple free standing restroom buildings, serves more than 10,000 park visitors on a sunny weekend. The project included two years of community planning and design process to meet the diverse demands from hundreds of constituents. Under Mr. Gilchrist’s leadership, he managed the entire project from the start until construction completion, which resulted in a successful capital improvement project.

Furthermore, Bob Palacio, the Department’s Recreation Superintendent will accept an Award of Excellence for his team’s commitment and great work on the Mayor’s Teen Outdoor Experience program. The Mayor’s Teen Outdoor Experience is a program which provides opportunities to youth on juvenile probation to experience the outdoors at Camp Mather in the High Sierras each summer. At Camp Mather, youth who typically are limited to their inner-city environment experience nature and outdoor living which are beneficial to both their physical and mental health. Often, the youth return to the City with new found positive perspectives about their life and what they can accomplish. The Award of Excellence has also extended to honor Allen Nance, SF’s Chief of Juvenile Probation, and Phil Ginsburg, Rec and Park’s General Manager, for their leadership on the program. Summer 2017 will be the 7th year of the Mayor’s Teen Outdoor Experience.

In addition, James Wheeler, a Recreation Service Manager to the Department, has been elected to be the upcoming CPRS President. He will be installed at the conference banquet, and become the leader that will lead the conference and organize park and recreation professionals in California. Mr. Wheeler has been an active volunteer and leader within CPRS at the local and state level for over 25 years.  In his current role with the Department, he manages Leisure Services, Aquatics, and Camp Mather.

The roots of San Francisco’s Recreation and Park Department stretch back to the 1870s, when city officials, responding to residents’ demands for a large public park, established a Park Commission to oversee the development of Golden Gate Park. Over the years, many more parks were added to the system, then in 1950, the modern Recreation and Park Department was born.

Today the Department, overseen by the Recreation and Park Commission, administers more than 220 parks, playgrounds, and open spaces, including two outside the city limits. The system includes 25 recreation centers, nine swimming pools, five golf courses and numerous tennis courts, ball diamonds, soccer fields and other sports venues. Included in the department’s responsibilities are the Marina Yacht Harbor, the San Francisco Zoo, and the Lake Merced Complex.

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