Fulton Playground renovation plans nearly complete

The city is not resting on the laurels of its recent achievement of completing the Lincoln playground renovation. Waiting in the wings is a total overhaul of Fulton Playground, located in a lot that spans between 27th and 28th Avenues, midway between Cabrillo and Fulton Avenues.

About a year ago, the Recreation & Parks Department began working with a committee of residents and parents to redesign the playground. Since then, a small group of about six residents that all live near the park have been meeting, emailing and Yahoo! group-ing about every detail of the renovation.

Wendi Digerness has been taking her children to Fulton playground almost daily for the past seven years. She’s been involved in the planning process and says, “I’ve been very pleased with the amount of input that we’ve had as members of the community. I was very surprised that we got to contribute so much to the plans.”

The small committee has been working with Edward Chin, a landscape architect with Department of Public Works, Bureau of Engineering. He provided catalogs of playground equipment and many of the parents, including Wendi, used their own kids to test drive equipment at other playgrounds. “I think we’ve been to 12 or 14 playgrounds in the city,” Wendi said.

Current play structures at Fulton Playground

Wendi says the group took a lot of design inspiration from Julius Kahn Park in the Presidio, Lincoln playground, and Moscone playground in the Marina. Like Lincoln playground, there will be an area dedicated to smaller kids in the version of Fulton Playground. The “toddler area”, designed for ages 2 and under, will include four bucket swings and a play structure with slides and things to climb.

The centerpiece of the new Fulton Playground will be a large, multi-piece structure that via rope and net bridges, connects the structure in the toddler area with a big kids structure at the other end of the play area. Kids will have plenty to climb, swing and slide on.

The final third of the new play area will include see-saws, the popular net whirl ride (photo), 9 foot swings, and a “blazer” which was described to me as “three motorcycle type seats that bounce up and down and are connected together in the center.”

Current play structures at Fulton Playground

But Fulton Playground is about more than just slides and see saws. “The basketball courts get used as much or possibly more than the children’s play area,” Wendi said. So it was important to residents that they maintain both the full and half basketball courts currently on park grounds. Both courts will be repaved during the renovation work.

In addition to fresh basketball courts, the project also includes a full renovation of the playground’s tennis court.

The layout of the park will change as well, with the children’s playground moving into the center and the basketball courts moving to border the 27th Avenue side. The tennis court will remain along the 28th Avenue side.

Not everything is being completely redone at the park. The playground’s Clubhouse, determined to be a historical resource by the San Francisco Planning Department Preservation Team, will get a bit of a makeover during the renovation. Exact plans are unknown at this time but expect lots of cosmetic upgrades and the addition of a seating area close by for visitors, birthday parties and other gatherings.

I asked Wendi if there were any difficult hurdles the group faced when trying to design a brand new playground. “At some point I felt sorry for [the planner Edward Chin] because everybody wanted something different,” Wendi responded.

Group members debated over what the major play structure should be, with some preferring to duplicate what was installed at Lincoln and Hamilton playgrounds. But in the end they decided to offer something different, reasoning that families can always head to Lincoln playground for a change of pace.

Wendi said sand or no sand also inspired a lengthy debate and in the end, they decided to eliminate it altogether. The surface planned for the play area will be rubber matting, similar to Lincoln playground.

The historic clubhouse at Fulton playground

In addition to all the new equipment, re-surfacing and Clubhouse upgrades, the renovation will also include new seat walls and landscaping.

The committee has also been reviewing sculpture proposals and just last week, chose artist Moto Ohtake, who earned his BFA and MFA in San Francisco. Chosen for the kinetic energy and movement in his sculptures, residents are looking forward to Ohtake’s sculptures becoming a centerpiece of the park. These will be Ohtake’s first sculptures in San Francisco.

Construction on the 40,586 square foot park is scheduled to begin in April, 2011, with plans to re-open in Spring, 2012. The total budget for the Fulton Playground renovation is $4.2 million, 100% funded by the 2008 Clean and Safe Neighborhood Park Bond passed by voters.

You can review the budget and follow the project’s progress on the Rec & Park Department’s Capital projects website (click 1. Richmond to get started).

Special thanks to the Wendi Digerness and the Fulton Playground Yahoo! Group for the information and plans (and for all their hard work!).

Sarah B.

Plans for the new Fulton playground. Click to enlarge.


  1. Very nice article and enjoy it very much! Just want to make one correction that Mr. Edward Chin is not a planner with RPD but a licensed Landscape Architect with Department of Public Works, Bureau of Engineering.

    Best Regards,

    Norman Chan, PE
    Deputy Bureau of Engineering
    Department of Public Works

  2. Thank you Norman for the correction! I will update the article. Cheers,

    Sarah B.

  3. Tony hawk and the bones brigade filmed here for the search for animal chin movie around 1987. They were my heroes wen I was a kid. There should be a shrine here to them

  4. Sometimes the terms “antique” and “historic” tend to get stretched to include things that are simply beyond their sell-by date. The clubhouse at Fulton is one such structure. Sure, the interior wood paneling and light fixtures are worth saving, but the remainder of the building is an old, dusty mess.

    Someday, perhaps, there’ll be a little flexibility in the rules so that the beautiful parts of buildings such as these can be saved and incorporated into new, better-functioning structures rather than going to such convoluted lengths to preserve something not deserving of all this expense.

  5. Will there be any area for sand or will there be any greenery added?

  6. they really gave us a crappy playground, example: the old one can hold an unlimited amount of kids and not break, it was a real house sturdy structure that did not collapse after two years of use, second it had 12 swings and not it has 4, it had all the equipment nessesary to practice gymnastics and all of those even bars single bar, walking beam are now completely gone giving the kids a borring place to play and they say themselves …Its borring! ask the kids not the grandparents when you decide on the design of a place because the new designs at all the SF playgrounds are cheap China products that instead of lasting the city 40 years will only last few. Thank you

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