SoMa park doesn’t please all

Allison Kohler said she and her 3-year-old and 5-year-old sons get into a daily debate whether the waste they find in the local South of Market area parks are “person poop or dog poop.”

Unfortunately Kohler’s 3-year-old usually wins the argument when he points out that animals don’t use napkins when they are done, according to Kohler. She said filth in the parks around the South of Market neighborhood is just part of everyday life. It is why, she said, residents were happy that The City turned an abandoned lot on Folsom Street into Victoria Manalo Draves Park.

But despite the joy of a clean playground, some residents are upset that the park was opened before construction was complete, while others are worried it will soon be run over by trash and the homeless that are seen at other area parks.

“There are no restrooms and the lawn is fenced off,” Kohler said. “When we went we had to sort of circumnavigate the perimeter [because] most of the gates are locked.”

The bathrooms are still under construction, according to Recreation and Park Department spokeswoman Rose Marie Dennis. She said often parks are opened before the restrooms or other nonhazardous items are still being constructed. She added several parks in The City do not have restrooms at all.

Supervisor Chris Daly’s office, whose jurisdiction includes the area, said the opening of the park was rushed because The City had an obligation to have it ready by the beginning of the school year on Aug. 28. The Recreation and Park Department is finalizing an agreement with the Bessie Carmichael Elementary School, located across the street from the park, for the students to have nonexclusive access to the playground and field during the day. The park had a ribbon-cutting ceremony Oct. 27.

“Really, the point was to have the park available as soon as possible. And there was also programming for the schoolthat had to be open by a certain date,” said John Avalos, of Daly’s office. “Our office was trying really hard to be ready for Bessie for the first day of school that was really our drive to make sure it was available for the school.”

Dennis said the Recreation and Park Department is in constant communication with the Southern police station about keeping the park safe but she said the community needs to report any suspicious activities to The City. Colleen Flynn, of the Neighborhood Parks Council, said residents have formed a community group to take care of the park.

“[Safety] is a big issue there because of [the park’s] sheer location,” she said. “Specifically, people are concerned about the children’s playground area and that area remaining for adults accompanied by children, and that’s it.”

sfarooq@examiner.com

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