SFSU: How the Community Plays – Excelsior Park

Excelsior Playground

The park I decided to observe is called Excelsior Park. I chose this park because it is about a 15 minute walk from my house and I used to spend a lot of time there during grade school. The park consists of a basketball court, a tennis court, baseball field, children’s play area/structure, and a small clubhouse. The first thing I saw when entering the park was a bunch of high school kids playing basketball and doing a lot of the same dumb stuff like play fighting and messing around we used to do when we were kids which was very nostalgic. There was also a ton of kids at the park on a school field trip which is nice to see that the park is getting the type of use that it is. I decided to interview one of the tennis players I usually see as I walk by this park on my way home. Ken has been going to this park for over 10 years and has lived in the neighborhood since he moved here from the Philippines. The main reason why he prefers to go to this park versus other parks (which are nicer and have more people who play tennis to compete with) is because of its proximity to his home. Some of his favorite things about this park are that it was renovated a few years back, it retains some of the old tagging and artwork that has been there for years and it’s mostly people from the neighborhood who use it. When asked what could be done to improve the park we both talked about how we would like to see the cracks in the concrete fixed and also how some of the thugs who hang out in the park should find other places to do their business.

The park hasn’t changed too much from when I went there. Still the same type of people except that there are a lot of new faces but still a few old ones. What I feel SFPRD can do to make this park better is to improve the clubhouse. As I mentioned earlier in the park received a renovation a few years back where the bulk of the focus was on the children’s play structure/area. They stopped short of renovating the clubhouse however which no longer looks like it belongs in that park. From the outside it looks decent enough but on the inside it’s dark, old and outdated. I would also like to see a creative way to discourage some of the gangbangers who hang around the park from causing trouble. I say creative because one of the last things I’d like to see is police walking through the park because they might bring a negative presence to the park as well. I would also like to see the cracks in the basketball and tennis courts filled in as they make a less than ideal playing surface.

Other than these areas I like that the park remains a welcoming place for the community and that it retains some of its history through the artwork which displays some of the things that make up the excelsior neighborhood. I don’t know how many others share this opinion but I like how the park has maintained its roughness and character while still catering to kids and families.