FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Wednesday, April 28, 2021
Contact: Mayor’s Office of Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org
Media: Photos can be found here.
San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed today announced the reopening of the newly renovated George Christopher Playground in Diamond Heights. Mayor Breed was joined by Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, the Recreation and Park Department, Public Works, and kids from Noe Valley Nursery School and Eureka Valley Arts to cut the ribbon on the $5.2 million renovation of the site, located above the northeastern rim of Glen Canyon.
The new play area at George Christopher Playground features structures for both big and little kids and includes swings, a whirl, and an imagination garden with a bridge, playhouse, and stepping stones. A dry riverbed nature exploration area supports imaginative play. New safety surfacing has also been installed.
“Safe, engaging playgrounds and accessible parks are essential for the health of our children and our communities,” said Mayor Breed. “We’re investing in our children, families and seniors by updating neighborhood gems like George Christopher Playground so they can continue to shine. Thanks to the support of so many neighbors and organizations over the years, this community now has a wonderful new space to enjoy.”
The renovation of the beloved 6.8-acre park also includes improvements to its pathways, landscaping, lighting, drainage, and irrigation systems. An improved design focuses on safety and connection of the park’s elements. A small amphitheater has been transformed into an accessible plaza with views of the playground. Fencing has been expanded around the east side of the clubhouse, which houses Noe Valley Nursery School. The clubhouse restrooms have been reconfigured to a new single user accessible restroom, a gender-neutral, multi-user restroom has been made more accessible, and a ramp has been installed from the playground to the outside restroom.
Steps from the updated playground, two pieces of mid-century play equipment have been preserved as a climbable modernist sculpture garden. Concrete Saddle Slide by sculptor Jim Miller-Melberg and metal Pleasure Dome by sculptor David Aaron were part of the playground when it opened in 1971 and are examples of the experimental Creative Play Design movement of the 1950s and 60s. A third piece in the garden is a replica of Miller-Melberg’s concrete sculpture Playwall.
“The renovation of George Christopher Playground is proof of what’s possible when neighbors come together to make their community more livable for everyone,” said Supervisor Mandelman. “I’m proud that I could play a part in delivering a new and improved playground for Diamond Heights residents and visitors alike to explore and enjoy.”
Approximately $4.2 million in funding for the project was provided through the 2012 Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond. An additional $597,000 for pathway improvements, ballfield fence replacement, new tennis court lighting, and salvaging of vintage play equipment was secured by District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman and former Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, with previous support from former Supervisor Scott Wiener. Remaining funding was provided through Rec and Park’s deferred maintenance and Open Space funds. Capital projects like this one are an important part of San Francisco’s economic recovery, with this project providing 129 construction jobs.
The project, which broke ground in late 2019, was shaped by feedback gathered through neighborhood meetings, community surveys, electronic voting, and outreach at the Where in the World is Christopher Park? Festival, a free community event to raise awareness for this park.
“George Christopher Park has been called the best kept secret in San Francisco, but it’s long been a neighborhood favorite for its spectacular views and trails that connect to Glen Canyon. Now, its playground is among the most innovative and fun in San Francisco,” said San Francisco Recreation and Park Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg. “The community’s love for this space was reflected in their enthusiasm guiding this project.”
Public Works provided design construction management and landscape architecture for the project. Landscape Architect Jasmine Kaw integrated natural elements such as logs, tree stumps, and stones to encourage imaginative play in both the nature exploration areas and nature-inspired park. Kaw is a member of San Francisco Children and Nature, a citywide collaborative working to expand opportunities for nature connection in parks, schools, and neighborhoods.
“This has been an exciting collaborative project with neighbors and is another example of the City’s commitment to improving our playgrounds – fun family-friendly treasures that serve our diverse communities,” said Acting Public Works Director Alaric Degrafinried. “This renovated play space meets today’s safety and accessibility standards, fits well in the surrounding environment and retains some of the most beloved mid-century elements.”
Friends of Christopher Park worked closely with Supervisor Mandelman, Rec and Park, Diamond Heights Community Association, the San Francisco Parks Alliance, the Northern California Chapter of the Documentation of the Modern Movement, and other community leaders to advocate for the improvements.
“We are delighted with the outcome of this project and appreciate the consistent support from the District 8 office going back to 2012 when our community advocated to have Christopher Park added to the Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond,” said Brynna McNulty, coordinator of the Friends of Christopher Park. “The community voiced concerns about keeping swings and beloved playground structures, as well as making pathways safer. Rec and Park and the Public Works design team worked diligently to modify the design and revise the budget to meet community needs. The result is a more safe, accessible, and beautiful park, playground, and gateway to Glen Canyon.”