Francisco Terrace Pocket Park: The City Responds to Inquiries

South San Francisco, CA     August 8, 2015     Submitted by Leslie Arroyo, City of South San FranciscoSSF logo

PREFACE: The City has spent the past few years putting together a Master Plan for our parks and have held multiple meetings to gather community input. The recent re-opening of newly renovated parks has sparked some inquiries and concerns from neighbors, especially in the Francisco Terrace area. One reoccurring comment was the lack of play structures for our younger children as Sally Johnson expresses “I drove past that so called park yesterday. I couldn’t believe there is nothing for the local people in the Terrace to take their young kids to play on. I’ll tell you who ever thought about what was put in these new parks didn’t take in to consideration at all about young babies.”  Below is the response from our City Departments via our Communications Director Leslie Arroyo via Nextdoor.com

Note from Parks and Recreation Director regarding Francisco Terrace mini-park

The Parks and Recreation Department has received a range of responses to the newly renovated Francisco Terrace mini-park. Some residents have been very pleased that the heritage California Pepper tree in the center of the park was preserved, and appreciate the contemporary, open fencing, accessible walkway, exercise equipment, and group swing. Some residents have expressed disappointment with the lack of play equipment for young children. The Parks and Recreation Department would like to provide some explanation for the way the park features were determined.

The design process started with soliciting community input. Staff and the consultant retained to design the renovations held a meeting on a Saturday morning, at the park, to hear from park users, and an on-line survey was made available. The item was also agendized for discussion at several Parks and Recreation Commission meetings. Residents expressed interest in amenities for youth, teens, and adults. As the design of the park took shape, the most significant factors which steered the design in its final direction were that the size and configuration of the park is particularly unusual and constrained; and current standards for playground equipment fall zones have changed significantly from when the old equipment was installed. The long, very narrow site unfortunately does not allow for a wide range of traditional types of play equipment, given the current requirements for safety fall zones. In short, it would not have been possible to replace even the old equipment that was removed from the park with the same equipment, because the fall zone area would not have fit into the available space. Similarly, a traditional swing requires an expansive safety zone by today’s codes, which is why the dish or group swing was selected. In addition to being a piece of play equipment which serves a variety of users from single children, to those with mobility issues, to a group of children, it is also an element whose safety zone fits within the site constraints of the park. The skinny area where the fitness equipment is located does not provide even for the smallest play elements for young children by today’s codes, which is why the decision was made to locate the stationary fitness pieces there. An added benefit to this is ideally an increase in different user groups who will use this park, which will improve upon the safety for all users. The other enhancements to the park include basketball court improvements, pathway, spinner, and climbing rocks. It was necessary to upgrade the walking path to provide for maintenance vehicle access, as well as for accessibility.

The coming months will bring some additional improvements to this site, which will include a new retaining wall along the Spruce Street side, a new drought-tolerant planting buffer between park and street, and also a resurfacing of the basketball courts. The City welcomes resident input. Please contact Sharon Ranals, Director of Parks and Recreation, Sharon.Ranals@ssf.net, 650-829-3800 with any park related suggestions or concerns. We also encourage residents to attend public meetings of the Parks and Recreation Commission, scheduled the 4th Thursday of each month, 7:00 pm, at the Municipal Services Building (August meeting has been cancelled).

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