SAN FRANCISCO – The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department will begin renovating Mountain Lake Park Playground starting late August 2015. The $3.15 million playground renovation is funded by the 2012 Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond, the city’s general fund, and a generous donation by the Friends of Mountain Lake Park Playground. The Playground, created nearly 30 years ago, contains deteriorated wooden structures that may possibly contain arsenic and other hazardous materials once used to treat lumber. In addition, the large amounts of sand surrounding the structure are difficult to keep clean. The Playground also lacks proper boundaries between both the nearby lake and busy streets. The playground renovation will include new playground equipment, increased access to the park, new picnic area, and irrigation and landscape upgrades.
“Mountain Lake Park Playground is another example of great partnership,” said Phil Ginsburg, SF Rec and Park General Manager. “We are leveraging more than $1.3 million of bond money with over $300,000 of donation to deliver an even more spectacular project. “
Located in the Inner Richmond neighborhood, Mountain Lake Park is a 15.2 acre park situated on a band of land bordered by the Presidio to the north and Lake Street to the south. Park amenities include a lakeside beach area, children’s play area, freestanding restroom, sport courts, an off-leash dog play area, and large natural lawn areas. The playground sits at the end of 12th Avenue, north of Lake Street, and is bounded by the lake to the north, tennis courts to the east, private residences to the south and the freestanding restroom structure to the west. For more information about the Mountain Lake Park Playground Improvement, please visit: https://sfrecpark.org/project/mountain-lake-park/.
“The neighbors who came together to form the Friends of Mountain Lake Park Playground made the renovation of the playground a reality for the community and are a terrific example of residents working together to improve their neighborhood,” said District 2 Supervisor Mark Farrell whose district includes the Mountain Lake Park and Playground. “I thank the Recreation and Parks Department and neighbors for their dedication to improving this space, and I look forward to celebrating its opening with the entire community in 2016.”
Friends of Mountain Lake Park Playground (FMLPP) have worked closely with SF Rec and Park, SF Parks, and neighbors over the past five years to develop a design that meets the needs of the community and honors the natural and historic setting. Public design meetings, surveys, and other forms of outreach were part of a truly collaborative process. The resulting community gathering space, designed pro bono by BCJ Architects, is state-of-the-art, accessible, and consistent with the historical and natural context of the site—a playground that will inspire and challenge children of all ages and abilities.
“After more than five years, we are thrilled to be at this final stage. It had been a truly collaborative process,” said Kate Green, member of FLMPP. “We would not be where we are today without the support of our partners SF Rec and Park, SF Parks Alliance, architecture firm Bohlin, Cywinski, Jackson, and of course all the members of the community who have rallied around this project.”
Founded by three Richmond neighborhood moms, Jen Fetner, Kate Green and Claire Myers, Friends of Mountain Lake Park Playground (FMLPP) is a volunteer group dedicated to the renovation of Mountain Lake Park Playground as a community gathering space for children and neighbors. The three women met nearly five years ago and became fast friends throughout the project, leveraging one another’s unique talents to transfer Mountain Lake Park Playground into a state-of-the-art play space for kids.
Fetner’s background in architecture, Green’s project management experience as a former management consultant, and Myers’s neighborhood understanding as a lifetime Richmond neighborhood resident were essential to this process. Fetner quickly tapped neighbor and friend Aaron Gomez, of Bohlin, Cywinski, Jackson Architects (BCJ), to round out the all-star volunteer team.
“The design of the playground and equipment selection are exciting because they harmonize with the natural setting at Mountain Lake Park and include fun climbing features for kids of all ages,” said Matt O’Grady, the Chief Executive Officer of the SF Parks Alliance.
The San Francisco Parks Alliance has supported and fiscally sponsored Friends of Mountain Lake Park Playground since 2010, assisting in the fundraising campaign to raising over $300,000 from community members and donors, and contracting with the architect and other consultants to complete the design.
In addition, adjacent to Mountain Lake Park is Mountain Lake, a natural lake on the southern border of the Presidio. For millennia, Mountain Lake has hosted a rich variety of plants and animals. However, throughout much of the 20th century the lake’s health declined due to many factors. In the 1930s, a highway was built through the Presidio to the Golden Gate Bridge, dramatically reducing the lake’s size and depth. Runoff from this roadway, a nearby golf course, and the surrounding city harmed the lake’s water quality. Non-native species also found their way into the lake, causing some local plants and wildlife to disappear.
Today, Mountain Lake is a living laboratory for restoration and an exciting place to explore how a natural area can be brought back to life with the participation of the community. In partnership with SF Rec and Park and volunteers, Presidio Trust leads the effort of restoring vitality to the lake. The effort took a major leap forward in 2013 as contaminated sediment from the highway was removed and the depth of the lake was increased by 50 percent.
The revitalization of the lake allowed for several species of long-absent native wildlife to be reintroduced into the lake, including the Pacific chorus frog, the western pond turtle, the California floater mussel, and the threespine stickleback fish.
“The Mountain Lake Park Playground renovation is a wonderful compliment to the revitalization of the lake” said Michael Boland, Chief of Park Development & Operations, “Children will be able to enjoy a beautiful new the playground, and learn about the importance of a functioning natural ecosystem.”
In 2014, the Presidio Trust began restoration of the lake’s east arm with the goal of returning it to wetland habitat. Also, the Trust began planting Submerged Aquative Vegetation (SAV) along the lake’s shoreline in order to remove algae-forming nutrients from the water.
To ensure the successfully establishment of the SAV, non-native species that damage and destroy it were removed. For two years beginning in 2012, the Presidio Trust captured non-native red eared slider turtles and large fish and relocated them to a reptile rescue facility in Sonoma County.