Public places receive revitalized faces

New slides, swings and climbing equipment stand in the sun at Rolph Playground in the Potrero neighborhood, waiting for the first children to come out and play.

The park’s new tennis courts also remain locked up until Rolph opens June 28. The Potrero Del Sol Park across the street, which will offer The City’s first skate park, also is close to opening.

“I used to come and lay on the grass [at Potrero Del Sol],” said Victor Gonzalez, who has lived in the neighborhood for 17 years. “It’s been a long time — it’s going to be nice, but I’m not sure about the skating. It might be too noisy.”

In 2000, voters approved the Neighborhood Park Bond, which allowed The City to issue $110 million in bonds for park improvements. Now, six facilities are ready to open this summer, including Potrero and Rolph. July will see the opening of the landmark Moscone Recreation Center in the Marina, and August will bring Coffman Pool in Visitacion Valley, Recreation and Park spokeswoman Rose Dennis said.

“It’s like critical mass, and there’s much joy in the communities,” Dennis said. “My big scissors haven’t seen so much action.”

Residents recently celebrated the grand opening of Minnie and Lovie Ward Recreation Center at Oceanview Park, which fully opens June 23 after 2½ years of renovations.

“We have gone two summers without a rec center, and this is a community of violence, so it’s critical that our youths have somewhere to go and something to do,” said Mary Harris, a supporter of the center.

The neighborhood had to cancel its annual Easter egg hunt and Kwanzaa festivities because there was nowhere to hold them — but those should return, Harris said.

Residents in Noe Valley will have to wait until August to use the new recreation center and dog run at Upper Noe Valley Park, where crews are still putting the finishing touches on landscaping, according to Supervisor Bevan Dufty, who is attempting to get the center opened sooner.

After waiting nearly two years, locals are taking the home stretch in stride, Upper Noe advocate Alexandra Torre said.

“People seem to be feeling positive,” Torre said. “They can see it’s so close to being done, and how they’re going to be able to use it.”

bwinegarner@sfexaminer.com

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