I was invited to a walkthrough of the Mountain Lake Park playground construction site this morning. The $3.15 million renovation kicked off a year ago, so I was eager to get an update on the progress and when project stakeholders think the playground will be ready to reopen.
Most of the concrete work is done, which defines the two disinct play areas – one for toddlers (smaller structures, more low key), and one for bigger kids (big climbing structures, big swings etc.).
The project hit an important milestone this week – beginning installation of the main playground structures. This includes a large log and rope climbing structure, a swing set, and another vertical climbing area. You can also see the beginnings of the structures in the toddler area, including three small horses that are wrapped in plastic, waiting for their first riders.
The beloved concrete slide is still in place, and a new scrambling wall will be installed alongside it. So kids can walk around the the slide to get back to the top, or climb up a steep(ish) slope that will have rock climbing holds on it.
The most striking thing about the renovation is how open and wide the playground feels. There are great sight lines to the lake, as well as good visibility to all key areas of the playground like the two play areas and the restrooms. So a visiting parent with kids of varying ages will be able to keep an eye on everything.
To get the open feel, some trees were removed. But the new landscaping will re-plant the same number of trees that were removed. Some of the trees that were removed were diseased, so the new plantings will have a longer life. The playground will also have accent landscaping throughout.
The main entrance will still be on 12th Avenue, with a main walkway through to the lake with offshoots into the different areas of the playground. There will be a main area in the middle for adults to hang out (and park strollers if needed), as well as a terraced picnic area near the restrooms, and an overlook above the toddler area. The overlook, top of the slide and picnic area will provide nice views of Mountain Lake.
The playground also incorporates aspects of its surrounding environment, including a fluted texture to the concrete walls that reflect the reeds in Mountain Lake, and animal paw prints of local species no the playground wall. The project team consulted with the Presidio Trust to learn more about the native species in the area.
SF Rec & Park project manager Levi Conover was there for the walkthrough. Originally the playground was scheduled to re-open this month, and Conover acknowledged that the project has been unexpectedly delayed. Conover said he believes it is realistic for the playground to reopen by the end of 2016, but would not provide a specific date.
The good news is that the project is starting to look like a playground again, and the plans are coming to life. Stay tuned for the grand opening!
UPDATE 9/29/16: In a blog post dated 9/27/16, Rec & Park project manager Levi Conover wrote “Although the project has experienced some delays, the City’s Project Management & Construction team is working tenaciously with the Contractor to reduce the back log of work. Project is scheduled to be substantially complete in mid to late January 2017.”