San Francisco News

Park advocates gather to stump for San Francisco bond measure

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

After receiving a "D" grade in a report card compiled by local park advocates, San Francisco's West Portal Playground was the focus of a news conference Wednesday morning in support of a parks bond that will appear on the November ballot.

Supervisors Malia Cohen, Carmen Chu and Sean Elsbernd, San Francisco Parks Alliance executive director Matthew O'Grady and others gathered at the West Portal Playground at 131 Lenox Way.

They spoke in support of Proposition B, a $195 million park bond that would provide $15.5 million for city playgrounds in need of renovation.

The report card, which has been compiled by the San Francisco Parks Alliance every two years since 2006, gave 16 of the city's 129 playgrounds "D" or "F" grades.

The alliance considered a number of factors in assigning grades, including the quality and safety of play equipment and playgrounds' accessibility to the disabled.

The West Portal Playground, with its rusted monkey bars, broken hobby horse and depleted sand levels, received a "D" grade.

Speakers at the news conference said Proposition B would help pay to fix up playgrounds like West Portal.

Cohen highlighted McLaren Park, which is within her District 10, as another site that "is in dire need of a little love and attention."

Chu said she is "grateful for the report card for pointing out where we need to focus on."

Wednesday morning, community members, parks and recreation staff and volunteers from Wells Fargo were touching up the West Portal Playground, doing some painting and sifting through the sand for trash.

O'Grady, however, pointed out that the structural problems with the play equipment can't be so easily repaired. He said it costs about $1 million to overhaul a dilapidated playground like West Portal.

The news conference was held Wednesday morning as part of an annual "Play Day," which highlights one park in need of repair each year. A group of young children were part of the event, creating chalk drawings on the ground and enjoying snack time.

Recreation and Park Commission President Mark Buell emphasized the overall improvement of city parks because of previous bond measures.

"Those not enlightened enough to support the bond, think of your children and grandchildren," he said.

This year, 37 percent of San Francisco's playgrounds received an "A" grade in the parks alliance's report card, up from 25 percent in 2006, when the first report card was issued.

The full report card can be found on the alliance's website at http://www.sfparksalliance.org/the-alliance/policy-planning/playground-report-card.

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