Bay Area/ San Francisco
Published on January 15, 2015
Complete Panhandle Park Renovations Still Need Funding

Photo: Jared Piorkowski/Flickr

If you’ve biked or walked through the Panhandle lately, you may have noticed that the park’s looking a bit shabby. Signage is below-par, lighting is dim, benches are scarce, and paths are cracked from overgrown tree roots.
The damaged path is a big issue. It threatens the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and out-of-towners who don’t anticipate the uneven ground.
Back in October, we noted that the city had granted $500,000 to the Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council (HANC) and the North Panhandle Neighborhood Association (NOPNA), the groups behind the Panhandle Park Improvement Project. However, it’s a far cry from the $1.4 million that they were hoping for when they applied for a Community Opportunity Fund grant in April. That grant application was denied. 

Now it comes down to how the $500,000 should be spent. Half a million is not enough to replace the southern pedestrian path, as originally hoped, but it could be used to replace lighting with funds left over for signage or other repairs. What’s more, the Project was granted only half the sum ($250,000) this year and the remaining half in 2016. The neighborhood groups continue to deliberate over which issue needs repairs first. 

NOPNA board member Dera-Jill Ponzer says fixing the path is the highest priority because cracks in the pavement jeopardize park-goers and prevent senior citizens from using the park. She and others at NOPNA want to pour all the newly acquired money into the path. The idea is that a pristine path–even if incomplete–will serve as a model of the park’s potential and inspire park-goers to donate to a fundraiser planned for this year. 

HANC chair members also prioritize path renovations. “Funds specifically earmarked for the southern pedestrian pathway rebuild need to be monitored to be sure that the funds remain committed to this project,” HANC membership chair Michelle Welch wrote in the group’s newsletter–that is, the money should not be spent on lighting repairs, an idea formulated by District 5 Supervisor London Breed and the Recreation & Parks Department. 

So, plans for the Panhandle improvements have yet to be ironed out. But this year we will undoubtedly see a renovated playground (using money from a 2012 parks bond) and an aggressive fundraiser to reach the $1.4 million needed to complete the Panhandle project as planned.

To see detailed improvement plans, visit the Panhandle Park Improvement site. In the meantime, what improvements do you think the Panhandle budget should be applied to first?