The City pulls through for parks

The City has stepped up to the plate to provide $2.55 million in funds so that three inner-city parks will see at least $8 million in
improvements.

The Trust for Public Land announced this spring that it was raising $4 million to meet a challenge grant from Banana Republic, Levi Strauss, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and the McKesson Corp. The money was slated for complete renovations at Hayes Valley Playground, Balboa Park and Boeddeker Park.

However, just a few weeks ago, the national park nonprofit had raised just $2 million — and needed to raise the rest by Aug. 31, spokeswoman Kerry Bresnahan said.

The money — $1.55 million in 2008-09 and $1 million in 2009-10 — will come from San Francisco’s capital fund, said Joe Arellano, a spokesman for Mayor Gavin Newsom.

“The way we look at it, The City is basically spending $2.55 million for improvements that would normally cost $8 million,” Arellano said. “We’re getting three parks completely upgraded.”

Advocates for the parks were relieved to learn that funding had been secured.

“We’re so happy. We’ve been working on improving Hayes Valley Playground since 1995,” said Barbara Wenger, a member of the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Parks Group.

The playground is slated for a fully renovated recreation center with a new kitchen, community room, sports areas and a computer room — as well as fencing that looks more inviting than the current cyclone fences, Wenger said.

James Chase, co-founder of the Friends of Balboa Park, was excited when he heard the news that the 17-acre park near his house will be renovated.

“We have a lot of things in the park that have seen better days” — including the baseball diamonds, elderly trees, fountains and restrooms, Chase said.

Renovations are scheduled for Hayes Valley in 2009, Balboa Park in 2010 and Boeddeker Park in 2011.

Although Trust for Public Land has met its fundraising goal, it will continue to seek donations because full renovations at the parks could cost as much as $14 million, Bresnahan said.

bwinegarner@sfexaminer.com

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