SF to allocate $1.15M from Downtown Park Fund to two renovation projects

Two commissions will jointly meet Thursday to decide whether to allocate $550,000 from a special city fund to help renovate the Turk and Hyde Mini Park and $600,000 toward the renovation of the Willie “Woo Woo” Wong Playground.

The funding would come from the Downtown Park Fund, which was established in 1985 to collect fees from commercial developers in the downtown area to “fund the creation of park and open space areas for the growing downtown daytime population,” according to a memo from city planner Patrick Race.

Use of the funds requires approval from both the Planning Commission and the Recreation and Park Commission, which will jointly meet Thursday to vote on the spending proposal.

“As of October 17, 2019, the Downtown Park Fund had an $1,851,541 in unallocated revenue. The funding for this project will withdraw $1,150,000,” the memo said.

The $550,000 slated for District 6’s Turk and Hyde Mini Park will help pay for renovations of the “children’s play area, site furnishings, fencing and gates, and provide new planting and irrigation.”

The Tenderloin park, at Hyde and Turk streets, is about 4,800 square feet. The full renovation cost for the project is $2.25 million and is already underway. In fact, the funding from the downtown would supplant “bridge funding” of the same amount already allocated to the project in last year’s budget. Renovations are supposed to be done by the end of next month.

The $600,000 will pay for the “the renovation of all existing park features within the Willie Wong Playground including athletic courts, children’s play areas, and the renovation of the existing clubhouse and rooftop athletic court.”

The District 3 park is located at 850 Sacramento St. between Waverly Place and Pagoda Place in Chinatown and is named after Chinese American USF basketball star Willie “Woo Woo” Wong.

The total renovation cost for the half-acre park is $13.5 million. And this will be the park’s second use of the Downtown Park Fund, which was previously awarded $4 million from the fund.

“On May 5, 2016, $4 million was previously allocated from the Downtown Park Fund to support the renovation of Willie “Woo Woo” Wong Playground,” according to a memo from the Recreation and Park Department. “The additional $600,000 requested will cover construction costs related to unforeseen site conditions and expanded scope required by the Department of Building Inspections, as well as personnel costs related to the corresponding increase in the construction schedule.”

The memo said that “both parks are well-utilized, and these improvements are necessary for these aging facilities.”

The fee is charged to commercial developers in the area of The City zoned as C-3. The fee is currently set at $3 per square foot.

The Planning Department staff recommends approval of the proposal for several reasons, including that “the Project improves open space within walking distance of the C-3 district” and “the Project serves the daytime population of the C-3 district.” Both locations are just outside of the C-3 zoned area.

The fund has paid for a number of other public park projects.

“Previous project improvements funded by fee revenue include Victoria Manolo Draves Park, Union Square, Embarcadero Plaza, and Sue Bierman Park,” according to the Rec and Park memo.

The joint meeting of the Recreation and Park Commission and the Planning Commission is scheduled for Thursday at 11 am, in Room 400 at City Hall.

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