Ingleside Park Grades: 3 Cs, 1 B, 1 A

Jackie Bernardo

The 2010 Playground Report Card is out and the Ingleside District earned one “A”, one “B” and three “Cs." It also got one "incomplete" for McLaren Park, which had its playground equipment removed.

The report card, issued every two years by the Neighborhood Parks Council and city Recreation and Parks Department, identifies playgrounds that need the most attention, said Sunya Ojure, Program Coordinator for the council.

The grades measure the safety, cleanliness, maintenance and quality of the overall play experience of each of 120 playgrounds. Grades are determined by a playground survey, which examines the playground’s equipment and cleanliness. Broken playground equipment, unclean sand or corrosion to parts of the play areas lower the grade of a playground.

Playgrounds that receive a “C” or lower are targeted for improvement. Revitalization includes planting trees, removing weeds, adding sand and general clean-up by volunteers, according to the council. The average grade of the playgrounds in District 11, which includes the Ingleside, is 80 percent this year compared to 83 percent for the city as a whole.

Balboa Park Playground received a “B;” Junipero Serra Playground received an “A”, making it one of the best playgrounds in the area.

"It’s not surprising that [Junipero Serra] received this grade,” said Kathy Dalle-Molle from Friends of Junipero Serra Playground, noting that the playground opened two years ago with a new play area and clubhouse. “We have such a dedicated group of individuals that live nearby and look out for the playground.”

However, Excelsior Park, Brooks Park and Merced Heights
Playground received “C” grades.

Concerns for McLaren
McLaren Park was omitted from the report card because the playground equipment has been removed from the site. The park therefore could not be evaluated as a playground and is one of the parks that is “noted, but not graded,” said Ojure.

“We are hoping to bring more attention to the fact that [this] play area has no equipment,” said Ojure. “The community still has kids who would like to play in this area.”

The parks department, parks council and the Parks Trust have held three McLaren Needs Assessment and Action Plan Workshops since the beginning of the year. Residents near McLaren Park have voiced concerns, and the city is applying for a grant to improve the park and called for feedback from residents on priorities.

At the final workshop, residents expressed their desire to improve the park grounds, specifically its picnic areas, pavement and pedestrian safety. Residents also showed concerns for conditions on Mansell Street and Visitacion Valley. Neighbors presented ideas that included the addition of a group picnic area, a nature center and a McLaren Park council that would better organize residential concerns.

“It’s important to hear what the community’s greatest priorities are,” said Karen Mauney-Brodek of the city department. She acknowledged that some of the biggest issues addressed at the meeting included traffic-related problems and the conditions of pedestrian and picnic areas. “They can help us determine [our next steps based on] what we know is most important for them.”

Park Improvements
The playground report card, issued in April, acknowledged the improvements made to the Balboa Park Playground. In 2006, the park received a “D” in the first report card. Subsequently, with the help of more than 500 volunteers and the organization Friends of Balboa Park, new structures were added to the park, including a play area for toddlers and a rock-climbing wall for older kids.

The park has maintained a “B” since its renovations in 2008. Overall, playground grades for the general parks in San Francisco have risen from 79 percent two years ago. With the implementation of volunteer workdays, the number of playgrounds that received “D” or “F” grades has also decreased from 26 to 16 within two years. Parks with “A” grades have risen by 4 percent since the last report card.

Dalle-Molle said community volunteers can help maintain SF playgrounds but still need the support from the city.

“The community is committed to doing as much as they can, but we’re not professional,” said Dalle-Molle. “It is important that the city does continue supporting funding for gardening [and] maintenance.”