SF Rec and Park Begins Lafayette Park Renovation

The renovation to begin with a groundbreaking ceremony

SAN FRANCISCO – San Francisco Recreation and Park Department announced the renovation of Lafayette Park starting today.  Commission President Mark Buell will lead a groundbreaking ceremony with District 2 Supervisor Mark Farrell, Friends of Lafayette Park, and San Francisco Parks Alliance at 11:00AM on Saturday, May 5th, 2012.  The ceremony will take place at the children’s playground area in the corner of Washington and Laguna Streets.

“We want to focus on creating long-term sustainable strategies for economic development, and park renovation is one of these strategies to ensure our neighborhood vitality,” said District 2 Supervisor Mark Farrell.  “We applaud SF Rec and Park Department and our community advocates for their ongoing commitment and contribution to improving our neighborhood parks.”

San Francisco voters devoted over $10 million of the 2008 Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond to improving Lafayette Park, one of Pacific Height’s crown jewels.  The project scope will include the repair and/or renovation of the restroom facilities, the children’s play area, picnic area and courts.  In addition, the project will restore roads and pathways, upgrade lighting and irrigation, modify the site to remove barriers, and improve accessibility as well as overall reconditioning of the park landscape.

“Our common goal is to ensure that future generations of San Franciscans will be able to enjoy the park’s recreational offerings and appreciate its significance for years to come,” said Mark Buell, SF Rec and Park Commission President.  “The renovation will bring this park a 21st century upgrade while maintaining its historic characteristics.”

“SF Rec and Park is renovating Lafayette Park to make it more environmental friendly with new water-saving irrigation system, more accessible with ADA improvement, and more family friendly with a new children’s playground,” said Phil Ginsburg, SF Rec and Park General Manager. “And we know project like this one, cannot be done by the Department alone.  We need support from our City and community leaders.”

“With the start of renovations at Lafayette Park, we once again see the impact of park bond funds and their ability to keep our parks clean, green, and safe, “ says SF Parks Alliance Executive Director Matthew O’Grady, “We look forward to working with Rec & Park and the community once again on another world-class park for San Francisco.”

Friends of Lafayette Park (FOLP) has been a group of community advocates dedicated to the enjoyment, safety, and improvement of Lafayette Park in the Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco, and the group has fundraised to support the renovation of the park.  More about FOLP please visit www.friendsoflafayettepark.org.

Lafayette Park is an 11.5 acre multi-use park bounded by Laguna, Sacramento, Gough and Washington Streets in the Pacific Heights District.  Though it has undergone some alteration during its 143-year existence, it retains good integrity.  Until now with the renovation funding from the 2008 Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond, the park only underwent irrigation upgrades in the 1960s, and the children’s playground area was upgraded in the early 1980s.

Rich with a history that spans back to the 1860s, Lafayette Park has hosted a myriad of “owners” over time, but it is closely associated with former City Attorney, Samuel Holladay.  The city’s designation of Lafayette Park sparked one of the most celebrated and longest-running land title disputes in the city’s history, which attorney and socialite Samuel Holladay was in a legal battle with the city for nearly seventy years; the legal battle even continued after Holladay’s death.  So it was not until 1936 that the City secured Lafayette Park as purely public space – that is with the exception of the St. Regis Apartments which remain the only privately-owned building in a San Francisco public park.

More about Lafayette Park and 2008 Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond, please visit: www.sfrecpark.org/lafayetteParkProject.aspx.

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