Esprit Park will be renovated in the “second half of 2022,” closed to the public for “about a year” during construction, said San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department’s (Rec-Park) Alexis Ward at a December online community meeting, which drew 84 participants.
The Department wants public input on which of six design options – ‘U’, ‘V’, ‘W’, ‘X’, ‘Y’, ‘Z’ – should be adopted. The plans reflect distinct schemes; offer one meadow, as is presently the case, or two; and attempt to separate dogs from people, or not.
Under ‘U’, ‘V’, ‘W’, and ‘X’ the two-acre site would be divided into North and South meadows, with a figure-8 trail traversing the park. Plans ‘U’, ‘V’, and ‘W’ designate the South meadow for families, or people, with dogs prohibited in the area, though leashed dogs would be allowed on the perimeter and through-park trails. Plans ‘Y’ and ‘Z’ retain the existing communicating meadow. All plans except ‘U’ would segregate a portion of the park for off-leash dogs.
Ward indicated that final plans would be shared with the public “early next year .”
According to Rec-Park’s website, renovation goals, shared by all six plans, are to “Refresh the park after almost 40 years of use, make the park more durable and resilient to withstand increased use, retain the park’s natural design and feel, make the park more usable for a wider variety of activities, and meet current codes and regulations.”
Though dogs are frequently observed off-leash in the park, off-leash dogs aren’t legally allowed. Municipal regulations require areas designated for off-leash dogs to have synthetic turf. During the online meeting numerous attendees railed against artificial turf in the comment text box. One critic suggested that anyone supporting artificial turf should visit a dog park; after giving the turf a close smell they’d quickly change their mind.
“We have a choice to make for the off-leash dog area, all grass, or synthetic turf and natural grass combination,” Ward said. “Natural grass requires more closures and might have to be closed in the winter while synthetic turf can stay open year-round.”
Ward indicated that if synthetic turf was installed it’d be regularly cleaned.
David Fletcher of Fletcher Studios, a Dogpatch-based design firm working on the project, said that regardless of which plan is selected Rec-Park intends to “raise up the soil around the perimeter, creating an audio barrier” while increasing places to sit by 70 percent and enlarging the number of exercise stations. Fletcher said he hoped to “activate the peninsula,” referring to the wooded spit in the park’s center, so it’s more hospitable for work-outs and to recreate. Fletcher noted that the current trail along the park’s perimeter, used by exercisers, isn’t American Disability Act-compliant; after renovation it will be. Fletcher said that native plants would be used in landscaping but that the “diseased” sycamore trees need to be replaced.
One commentator objected to the categorization of ‘family meadow’ as describing a dog-free area, suggesting that dogs are a component of families. The issue of dogs has been a point of contention among park users. One person with whom the View spoke asserted that without the “dog constituency” which “has the ear of the Supervisor” park renovations would’ve been completed years ago.
Plan details and updates are at: https://sfrecpark.org/1136/Esprit-Park-Renovation-Project. Comments can be submitted to Ward: firstname.lastname@example.org or 628.652-6641.