Every week or so, we receive an email here on the blog that goes something like this: “What is going on with Mt. Lake Park playground? Is it ever going to reopen?”
It’s a fair question, given the $3.15 million construction project for the new playground began in September 2015, and was due to be completed in April 2016. Yes, that’s a delay of one year, and a record for a Richmond District playground remodel.
We received word late last week that the playground will finally reopen on Thursday, June 8 with a grand reopening celebration from 5pm until 7pm.
In April of this year, the Richmond Review shed some light on the cause of the year-long delay: an accounting error. When the construction company CF Contracting submitted their bid for the playground renovation, they misplaced a decimal point on a line item, quoting the cost as $35,000 when it should have been $350,000.
CF’s bid was accepted, since the city is legally obligated to accept the lowest bid on construction projects. But prior to work starting, CF discovered their error and filed a lawsuit in May 2015 against the city, requesting that the error be corrected in the contract and the difference in the bid be honored.
It went round and round from there, with an eventual ordinance put before the Board of Supervisors Government Audit and Oversight Committee for a settlement “of $110,000, plus an additional $10,000 to be paid if CF Contracting reaches substantial completion of the playground in early 2017”. We do not know at this time where the ordinance stands.
Next Thursday, residents will get the first chance to set foot on the new playground which features separate play areas for toddlers and older children.
The main entrance is still on 12th Avenue, with a main walkway through to the lake with offshoots into the different areas of the playground. There is a main area in the middle for adults to hang out (and park their strollers if needed), as well as a terraced picnic area akin to amphitheatre stairs and an overlook above the toddler area. The overlook, top of the slide and picnic area provide nice views of Mountain Lake.
The beloved concrete slide is still in place, with a new scrambling wall alongside it. Kids can walk around the the slide to get back to the top, or climb up a steep(ish) slope that has rock climbing holds scattered across it.
New landscaping is installed around the playground, and the removal of some trees leaves the space feeling large and wide open.
Three neighborhood mothers – Claire Myers, Jen Fetner and Kate Green – spearheaded the playground renovation project in 2010, working with SF Rec & Park, the city, the community and award-winning architects Bohlin Cywinski Jackson to design the new playground and get it approved.
Fetner’s background in architecture, Green’s project management experience as a former management consultant, and Myers’s neighborhood understanding as a lifetime Richmond neighborhood resident were essential to this process. The group started the Friends of Mountain Lake Park Playground (FMLPP) group to fundraise for the renovation, which was paid for by the 2012 Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond, the city’s general fund, and several hundred thousand dollars raised by FMLPP.
Come out next Thursday, June 8 between 5pm and 7pm to take the new playground for a spin!