In response to a campaign by Friends of Franklin Square, the City is expected to roll-out three capital improvement projects aimed at making Franklin Square safer and more engaging. The upgrades must pass an environmental assessment before being greenlit by the Recreation and Park Commission.
Under the proposals, three or four new lighting fixtures would be installed on the park’s west side, where nearby residents say homeless encampments have recently cropped up. “It’s a very neglected area,” said Jolene Yee, head of Friends of Franklin Square. “It’s been a difficult thing for the community because there’s been a lot of the ancillary things that go along with that, like sanitary conditions, illegal drug use; we’ve found a lot of used needles. Unfortunately, a lot of them were in the playground.”
An adult workout area will be created, featuring two level horizontal bars, parallel bars and a horizontal ladder, located at the corner of 17th and Bryant. “The adult workout area was a request from the community,” said Joey Kahn of the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department.
“We have a lot of mixed income housing around the park,” Yee said. “One of the big concerns is having free access to equipment, so this is part of addressing that.” Funding for the workout area came from developer fees, as directed by the Eastern Neighborhoods Citizens Advisory Committee, which provided $120,000.
Improvements to the soccer field will include extending the fence to prevent balls from flying onto the street; replacing the nearly decade-old turf with a more natural cork material, to eliminate the odor emitted by the existing one; improved drainage; and the installation of new benches, drinking fountains and trash bins.
Friends of Franklin Square have also proposed the removal of four trees on the field’s west side, which have been deemed hazardous. Eight new trees will be planted to replace them. Community leaders are also working to secure funds to install a new dog play area.
“It’s important to invest in the park. It’s an asset,” Yee said. “There’s this huge demand for green spaces and it’s gotten to the point that we are even trying to invest in green spaces that are even like sidewalks, or places under the freeway. And I think all that is fantastic, but I also feel like; hey, this is an actual park. People aren’t using it because this area is blighted. Why aren’t we investing in our park lands?”
Franklin Square is nearly a century and a half old. The last time a significant investment was made to improve the park was in 2007, when the playground was restored.
Local real estate developer Trumark Urban—which is building a mixed-use condominium complex in the vicinity—has pledged up to $50,000 to maintain the park, in addition to $13,000 annually to be collected from complex residents through their homeowners association fees.
The lighting and adult workout area projects are expected to be completed this fall. Construction on the soccer field is planned to begin next month, and is expected to be done by August.