Fixing San Francisco park will take some green

Mike Koozmin/Special to The SF ExaminerSome of Lafayette Park’s off-leash spaces for dogs will remain open during proposed renovations; work could be completed by 2013.

Lafayette Park, a hilly green space in Pacific Heights popular with dog owners, is in line for a much-needed facelift.

As one of only 28 parks in The City that allow canines to roam off-leash, Lafayette Park is a haven for pet owners, but drainage problems can make many areas of the open space damp and inaccessible for visitors, said Lynne Newhouse Segal, president of Friends of Lafayette Park, a neighborhood advocacy group.

“It’s a beautiful place, but after a wet winter season, it essentially turns into a swamp,” Newhouse Segal said of the park, located at Gough and Washington streets.

The outdated playground poses a danger, and many of the walking paths no longer meet compliance standards required by the Americans with Disabilities Act, Newhouse Segal said.

The Recreation and Park Commission is slated to vote Thursday on a $6.7 million contract to renovate the park. The work will entail irrigation and drainage improvements, upgrades to two tennis courts and pathway enhancements designed to make it easier for people with disabilities to get around.

The playground — which received a C grade from the Neighborhood Parks Council in its 2010 report — will be significantly renovated to meet current safety standards. The bathrooms and a gardener’s office also will be touched up.

Funding will come from the Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond, a $185 million initiative passed in 2008 to improve 12 open spaces. The Friends of Lafayette Park will also contribute private funds for the playground renovation.

If the contract is approved Thursday, the project could begin later this spring, said Connie Chan, a spokeswoman for the Recreation and Park Department. The project is scheduled to be completed by March 2013, Chan said.

Like the current work at Dolores Park, the Lafayette renovation will require some areas to be off-limits. However, Dawn Kamalanathan, capital planning director of the parks department, said select off-leash spaces will remain open at all times during the renovation.

“We’re not looking forward to portions of the park being closed down,” Newhouse Segal said, “but this project is definitely worth it.”

The City recently announced it’s exploring another bond measure, for November’s election, related to park improvements. The parks department has said it has $1.6 billion in deferred maintenance needs, and another bond would build on the momentum of the 2008 initiative.

Lafayette Park

11.5 Acreage

1936 Year opened

1986 Year last upgraded

$10.2M Cost of renovation project

Source: Recreation and Park Department

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