SAN FRANCISCO — The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department broke ground on renovations at Herz Playground in Visitacion Valley on Monday as part of the Let’sPlaySF! initiative that is delivering creative play spaces to children across San Francisco, department officials announced today.
The Herz Playground project marks the 10th of the 13 playgrounds to be renovated through the Let’sPlaySF! initiative, which is a partnership between SF Rec and Park and the San Francisco Parks Alliance that is transforming playgrounds prioritized by a citizen task force. The sites were selected based on presence of toxic wood at the sites or locations in lower-income neighborhoods dense with children. Let’sPlaySF! will change the lives of 20,000 kids who live within a 10-minute walk of these playgrounds, giving them modern and safe play spaces.
Herz Playground, located within McLaren Park and over six-acres in size, boasts a children’s playground, a clubhouse, two basketball courts, a ballfield, Coffman Pool, and open space.
Under the new improvements, the playground will feature two areas, each geared toward a specific age group. The area for younger children will include a play structure with slides and activity panels, toddler swings, a bobble rider, and harmony flower chimes for outdoor musical play. The area for big kids will consist of a large play tower with two slides, a climbing wall, swings, steel drums, and a track ride for gliding above ground.
The park will also get new furnishings such as picnic tables and benches, as well as a redesigned landscape to create a more natural setting. Meanwhile, the clubhouse will see the addition of upgraded bathrooms and a new drinking fountain.
Once complete, the renovations at Herz Playground will complement the adjacent future Herz Recreation Center. Slated to be finished in Winter 2023, the new rec center and gymnasium will serve as a community hub for Visitacion Valley and Sunnydale residents.
The Herz Playground project’s design was conceived with input from residents, through both in-person and online community meetings held in 2019 and 2020, as well as surveys in English, Spanish, and Traditional Chinese. Some of the features that community members overwhelmingly expressed interest in were the climbing wall, climbing tower, track ride, and slides.
“All children in San Francisco, no matter where they live, should have access to state-of-the-art play spaces where they can have fun and socialize close to home”, said Mayor London Breed. “The playground renovations happening through Let’sPlaySF! are vital to the development of our children and important to our efforts to ensure neighborhood parks remain inviting facilities that foster a thriving community.”
“I am excited to once again participate in another District 10 park groundbreaking in Visitacion Valley,” said Supervisor Shamann Walton. “Having spaces for our young people to play and participate in recreation activities is imperative for true community building. We have been working together with RPD to create more open space and ensure we have quality parks through the district and the City. This is another example of honoring commitments, with many more to come.”
“SF Rec and Park is so proud of the strides we and the SF Parks Alliance have been making through Let’sPlaySF!,” SF Rec and Park General Manager Phil Ginsburg said. “Renovating these playgrounds encourages community members to get outside and play—which we know promotes community and physical wellbeing.”
“An incredible renovation like the one at Herz Playground shows the power of philanthropy and an engaged community,” SF Parks Alliance CEO Drew Becher said. "The Let'sPlaySF! initiative has set a new bar for what we should expect and strive for in all of our public spaces."
During the project, the playground and clubhouse will remain closed, with an anticipated reopening date in Summer 2023.
Herz Playground—named after former Rec and Park Commissioner Dr. Francis Joseph Herz, who served on the commission between 1953 to 1965—was first created in 1965. The last renovation at the park occurred in 1998.
The $3.38 million renovation project is being funded, in part, with nearly $1.2 million from the city’s General Fund, $600,000 from the Rec and Park 2012 Bond Playgrounds Program, and a $700,000 grant from the SF Parks Alliance.
For photos of Monday’s groundbreaking celebration, click here.