SAN FRANCISCO – A project to improve park access, update play equipment and enhance programs for seniors and youth at a beloved Western Addition gathering space broke ground today.
The redesign of Margaret Hayward Playground, which will be complete in 2020, will unify the sprawling 6-acre property, welcoming visitors through a singular entrance. The renovation also includes a new children’s play area, updated sport courts and play fields, and a new community building with expanded meeting space and kitchen amenities.
Western Addition community members shaped the renovation plan of the park, which has been a neighborhood fixture for more than a century. Neighbors requested the new design prioritize safety, increase outdoor space and establish a sense of cohesion between the park’s various features. As a result, barriers will be removed, landscape expanded, sightlines improved, and space devoted for youth and senior activities. The new community building, full of natural light, will look out onto a plaza that will host performances, community events, and classes.
“Margaret Hayward Park has been an important community space in the Western Addition neighborhood for generations,” said Mayor London Breed. “This was my neighborhood park when I was growing up. I am excited for this renovation project because it will bring important improvements so the park can continue to serve the community for years to come.”
Supervisor Vallie Brown, a longtime advocate for providing equitable recreational services to the Fillmore/Western Addition community, said the revamped playground will offer something for everyone.
“I’m thrilled that we’re renewing our promise to the surrounding neighborhood by investing in the park. When it reopens, a bigger and brighter Margaret Hayward Playground will ensure that nearby elders, families, and kids can truly make the park their own,” Brown said.
The updated play area, designed to ignite children’s imaginations, will be at the heart of the park.
“Margaret Hayward Playground has been cherished by so many and for so long. We couldn’t be more excited to be carrying out the community’s vision for polishing this neighborhood jewel,” said San Francisco Recreation and Park Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg.
Charles M. Collins, president and chief executive officer of the YMCA of San Francisco, said the new community building is especially important for children and their parents.
“The renovation, besides being very functional, creates a welcoming atmosphere to the entire community. The design of the building was created with input from all the community partners and took into consideration safety, versatility for a multifaceted program and the ease of accessibility,” Collins said. “Renovation ensures that the youth and families will have quality programs far into the future.”
The $28 million project is funded by the 2012 Clean and Safe Neighborhoods Park GO Bond, with additional funds from Market Octavia Community Improvements Fund and the California Housing Related Parks Program, plus proposed gifts from Nearby Schools Initiative and Open Space funds. The site is shared with the Department of Emergency Management, which operates the city’s 911 Call Center and Emergency Operations Center.
The park, originally part of Jefferson Square which sits across Turk Street, served as a refugee camp following the 1906 earthquake. In 1918, it was named to honor Margaret S. Hayward, one of the founding members of San Francisco’s Playground Commission, which was created in 1907. The following year, Hayward was elected to the board of directors of the California Club, the premiere vehicle for child reform in the City. Margaret S. Hayward Park was the first San Francisco Recreation and Park property named for a woman.