Last Construction Beam on Building Placed & Community Time Capsule Buried; Mayor Proposes Dedication of Chinese Recreation Center to Honor National Community Hero Betty Ong

San Francisco, CA— Mayor Edwin M. Lee today joined San Francisco Recreation and Park Department (RPD), Department of Public Works (DPW) and community leaders to celebrate the construction progress at Chinese Recreation Center, located on a steep site at the corner of Mason and Washington Streets. The Chinese Recreation Center serves one of the most densely populated neighborhoods of San Francisco.

“Chinese Recreation Center is at the heart of the Chinatown community, a safe place for all San Franciscans to enjoy,” said Mayor Lee. “I would also like to thank the community for their input and engagement in this project because without them, we would not be here today to provide our City’s youth and future generations with a safe place to play and exercise. We are investing in the future of our City, and we are doing it the right way – with the community.”

“We can all be proud of this project; it was a great community process and the project is under budget,” said RPD General Manager Phil Ginsburg. “We take pride in the community collaboration that made this project such a success.”

“Public Works is proud to design a functional facility that will provide a new gymnasium playground, and many other amenities for the community to enjoy for generations to come.” said DPW Director Mohammed Nuru. “The LEED Silver certified center will create an environment that will also complement the diverse neighborhood by promoting outdoor opportunities through new landscaping and a playground.”

For several decades, the Chinese Recreation Center has been a heavily used facility in the heart of Chinatown. More than $21 million is being used to upgrade and repair the Chinese Recreation Center. Financing for the project comes from the 2008 Clean & Safe Neighborhood Park Bond.

The old Chinese Recreation Center was a 22,000- square foot, three story concrete building built in 1951. The new recreation complex will grow by more than 1,000 square feet and provide improved program space, improved accessibility for everyone, and address green building and code requirements. The new Chinese Recreation Center will be built to LEED-Silver certification. The project includes the partial replacement and full renovation of the recreation center, repairs and renovation of the court, and children’s play area, restoration of existing pathways, upgrades to infrastructure, removal of barriers and improved accessibility, and overall reconditioning of the park landscape.

The Chinese Recreation Center project is now 51 percent complete. Plant Construction is the contractor on the project. The original subcontracting goal for Local Business Enterprise (LBE) participation was 23 percent, and Plant has exceeded the LBE participation to date with 26.8 percent. There are more than 50 subcontractors from various trades working on this project. The project is under budget by $1 million.

As part of the celebration, the last construction beam was placed at the top of Chinese Recreation Center as part of the “topping out” ceremony. City officials also buried a community time capsule that included mementos and pictures which represented the Chinese Recreation Center and the Chinatown community, pictures drawn and letters written by Gordon J. Lau Elementary School students about growing up in San Francisco and a San Francisco Giants baseball signed by Mayor Lee.

Mayor Lee, in commemoration of the ten year anniversary of the terrorist attacks that took place on the tragic day of September 11, 2001, has requested the RPD Commission to name the Chinese Recreation Center in honor of Betty Ong, a Chinese-American hero. Betty Ong grew up in Chinatown, attended San Francisco public schools and often played at Chinese Recreation Center with her brother and two sisters. Betty Ong was a flight attendant on American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston bound for Los Angeles and was the first person to report the hijacking. Her call led to air traffic controllers landing every plane flying over U.S. airspace on that day.

“As we approach ten years after the tragic events, we are once again reminded of the tragic events that occurred that day and the people who lost their lives. Betty Ong is a national hero who grew up here, and her courage and her heroism have saved untold numbers of lives by telling emergency personnel on the ground what was happening,” said Mayor Lee. “Today, I ask the community to consider naming this wonderful new community center in the heart of Chinatown in remembrance of Betty Ong in the Chinese- American community and throughout our country for her heroic acts.”

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