Potrero View’s Southside: New Effort Launched to Revive Bayview Parks
By Sasha Lekach
A group of women from Bayview-Hunters Point have teamed up to start an advocacy group focusing on improving parks located in the City’s southside. Parks 94124, which was launched just two months ago, has already sponsored two community park clean-up efforts, including at Gilman Park, removing trash, scrubbing play structures and gardening.
Geoffrea Morris, who ran for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, District 10 seat last fall, serves as Parks 94124’s executive director. Morris’ campaign focused on expanding access to park and recreational resources in Bayview-Hunters Point. Following her loss at the polls – she finished ninth, in a field of 21 candidates – Morris joined with other Bayview-Hunters Point natives Maya Rogers, Chablis Scott, and Lena Miller to create Parks 94124, with a goal of providing stewardship to every park in the community. “I was raised here, these parks are near and dear to my heart,” Morris said.
Previous attempts have been made to revive southside parks. But Morris believes Parks 94124 offers something different and more sustainable. “The way this group was formed was from the inside. We are from here, we live here, we were raised here,” Morris explained. “We are not outsiders looking in.” Hunters Point Family – a nonprofit organization dedicated to youth development – serves as the group’s fiscal agent. Morris hopes to achieve independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit status in the near future. “We are saying we need our parks to be restored. We are shining a beacon of light onto this community,” Morris said. “We are showing the community it’s as easy as grabbing a shovel.”
Parks 94124 held a community kick-off at the Joseph Lee Recreation Center on Mendell Street at the end of February. While local youth enjoyed cotton candy and open gym space, Parks 94124 displayed photographs of the 11 parks the group has taken under its wings, and solicited volunteers for future projects. “Once people are involved they become advocates for themselves. You see self-improvement,” said Parks 94124 co-founder Maya Rogers, who previously worked with Bayview Hunters Point Adult Day Health Center.
Bayview native and parent Vanessa Banks sees Parks 94124 as a way to provide more open space opportunities for children growing up in oft-neglected Bayview. “Let’s do something,” Banks said, at the February gathering. “These kids need our help. Some kids here don’t know about community.” San Francisco Recreation and Parks sponsored a booth at the event, where volunteer coordinator Marianne Kjobmand helped Parks 94124 snag volunteers and share information about City programming and park services. “I think [Parks 94124] is a great idea,” Kjobmand said. “It will help to bring in people for all [Recreation and Parks] classes. It’s a great opportunity to get the community involved.”
Later, at a sit-down presentation, the four founders shared their goals for the organization and individual park projects. We often say we can’t do it alone,” said Recreation and Park director Phil Ginsburg, who attended the gathering. “We need the community to help us out.” District 10 Supervisor Malia Cohen, a Bayview native, expressed enthusiasm for the revived energy Parks 94124 would bring to the neighborhood. Working with the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services, two University of California, Berkeley landscape architecture interns, Jesse Jones and Deedee Min, are helping to draft revitalized park plans.
Parks 94124 held its first community park clean-up at Hilltop Park on Whitney Young Circle at Hudson Avenue. The event attracted more than 20 volunteers, including skateboarders from the San Francisco Skateboarding Association, who came to clean and scrub the skate bowl at the park. “There’s a resurgence of Bayview residents becoming engaged and taking ownership,” said Lena Miller, who is working with Parks 94124 through Hunters Point Family.
Park clean-ups will be held on April 9 at Bayview Park, and April 16 at Youngblood Coleman. To volunteer or learn more about Parks 94124: 573.7854.