Bay Area/ San Francisco/ Parks & Nature
Published on June 07, 2017
After Nearly 2 Years, 'Mountain Lake Park Playground' To Reopen

A sneak peek at the new playground  | Photo: Friends of Mountain Lake Park Playground/Facebook

After 21 months and $3.15 million worth of renovations, the Mountain Lake Park Playground will be reopening tomorrow on Thursday, June 8th.

Renovations started in September 2015, with a planned completion date of April 2016. However, as reported by the Richmond Review, a misplaced decimal in the contracting company’s original bid for the renovation led to significant delays, as the contractor and city attempted to reach an agreement. 

According to Rec and Park, the project was also delayed due to a record amount of rainfall during construction, combined with Mountain Lake Park's unique topography. 

Now, over a year after the playground was set to reopen, residents are excited to see the finished product, which includes safer rubber turf, play structures made of natural materials, and 100% accessibility.

"This is an amazing project," Rec & Park General Manager Phil Ginsburg told Hoodline, stating that the new playground "has retained the element of challenge for children of all ages," but is now "safer, more accessible, and more fun."

Playground renovation sign. | Photo: Nikki Collister/Hoodline

The initial project was inspired by local mothers Jen Fetner, Kate Green, and Claire Myers, who formed Friends of Mountain Lake Park Playground (FMLPP) in 2010, after they learned that a renovation could only happen with the support of community advocates.

At that point, the 30-year-old playground was in desperate need of a renovation. It had scored a "C" on an assessment by the San Francisco Parks Alliance, one of the lowest ratings received in the district. Parents in the neighborhood worried that the deteriorating wooden structures and continued issues with cleanliness provided an unsafe play environment for their children.

"We each brought our unique perspectives and talents to this project," Kate Green tells Hoodline. "Claire, for instance, grew up in this neighborhood and had a unique sense of the sight’s history and importance to the community. Jen is an architect in her own right and was instrumental in bringing on board the architecture firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson."

Green, previously a management consultant, had moved to the Inner Richmond before starting a family, and found the playground "a wonderful place for connecting with friends and building community during those early years as a mom."

The playground as it looked in 2011. | Photo: Katherine F./Yelp

The park’s namesake, Mountain Lake, is the only natural lake in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and one of the last natural lakes in all of San Francisco. It sits at the southern tip of the Presidio and offers nearby residents a sprawling meadow, tennis courts, dog run, and picnic area in a unique woodland setting.

"This is a playground in a very special location," said Phil Ginsburg. He explained that the Presidio Trust would be able to use the playground and surrounding areas for environmental education programs, and allow kids and their families to connect with nature.

Concept plan. | Photo: Friends of Mountain Lake Park Playground/Facebook

The project was funded in large part by the Clean & Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond, along with a donation from Friends of Mountain Lake Park Playground. Remaining funds were raised mainly through small- and medium-sized donations from the community and neighborhood businesses, including Angelina’s Deli-CafeBurma SuperstarB Star and Eats.

"This project is a classic example of a successful public/private partnership," said Green, noting that the playground renovation saw support from Rec and Park, San Francisco Parks Alliance, the Presidio Trust, and District 2 Supervisor Mark Farrell.

"We were also very fortunate to have [architecture firm] Bohlin Cywinski Jackson provide their services entirely pro bono, join the team and help realize a vision that the community articulated," Green added.

Two other major firms, Lutsko Associates and Holmes Structures, also provided services free of charge, to assist with planting design and structural engineering, respectively.

Photo: Friends of Mountain Lake Park Playground/Facebook

With the project’s completion, Green tells us that the Friends of Mountain Lake Park Playground will likely join its parent organization, Friends of Mountain Lake Park, who will be the stewards of the playground and surrounding park.

This Thursday’s reopening celebration will include a ribbon-cutting ceremony, refreshments from Angelina’s Deli-Cafe, and a nature walk hosted by Presidio Trust.