April 27th, 2015
Wednesday evening's community meeting was a success. Thank you, to everyone that attended. Special guests included Steve Schweigerdt from San Francisco Parks Alliance and Steve Cismowski from San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department (RPD). There was even a reporter present from Hoodline. He wrote this article about the meeting that can be found here.
For those of you that didn’t make it, here is a concise but complete update: We did not receive any money from the Failing Playground Taskforce, or from the Community Opportunity Fund (COF) during last year’s cycle. We still have the chance to apply and secure funding (up to a maximum of $500,000) through the COF, which will be available for only two more grant cycles, and is highly competitive. This effectively means that unless some COF funding is secured in the next two years, for the next 7-10 years there will be NO money from the City for a large scale renovation at Grattan Playground. A second important development is that the City over the past year has developed a strong NO SAND policy for any of its new playgrounds. The COF application we submitted last year with some sand included in the design would no longer be approved with any sand. Future revised grant applications with sand as a part of the design will also not be funded.
The combination of these facts has left us in a tough spot. We have heard from you, our community, that you don’t want to lose all the sand in the playground. But no matter what renovation design we pursue, it can’t have sand included. Additionally, we will have to raise at least 1 million dollars ourselves to fund a project that compromises our vision.
Given these new circumstances, we presented 3 options for this year’s COF grant application to the community:
1) Submit existing plans again, which unless we remove all the sand will not get any funding or sign-off from RPD. Also there will be at least 1 million dollars left to raise by our community.
2) Design a Nature/Challenge Play playground to be a pilot proposal (for the 2016 COF grant cycle) in response to the result of the Design forum hosted by RPD and the Parks Alliance in February 2015. This approach will again run into a lot of opposition from RPD, as there would be sand and other natural elements. And while it is more along the lines of what our community wants, if ok’d, it would also entail a lot of private fundraising.
3) Work together with RPD in doing small improvements/upgrades to the existing playground, such as refreshing the sand and bolstering existing structures, and apply for a COF grant for a smaller project. Proposed projects could be: Replace the fencing and gates around the playground, planting target areas with trees, adding a picnic area in the lower yard, or adding an ADA ramp.
During the meeting, our community overwhelmingly chose the 3rd approach. Therefore, for this year's grant cycle, FOGP will put forward a grant application with a smaller project scope to the COF. This smaller project application will include a proposal to only replace the fencing and gates around the playground, add a picnic area in the lower yard, and add an ADA ramp. We are also applying for the Parks Alliance’s Action Grant ($5K) to install planters and trees on the Alma side of the lower yard.
As we have already been working recently with Steve Cismowski, our site manager from RPD, to achieve several small improvements, RPD is feeling positive about this option for this year’s application. Steve has promised to give our playground a lot of TLC in the near future and we have already started to see the results of his commitment. As mentioned in an earlier update, we have received new sand in the upper yard and more is coming, as we have had a private donor subsidize another truckload. The hazardous merry-go-round has been removed to be replaced by something else and the play structure posts that are rotting will soon be stabilized by the carpenters at RPD.
FOGP will be doing some fundraising for other smaller projects and repairs over the course of the year. Please get in touch with us if you want to contribute toward building new benches or picnic tables, planting new plants, installing a sculpture in the sand, or if you have ideas for anything else that needs help.
This way, for now, we will keep the unique character of Grattan Playground while keeping it fresh and safe.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and stay involved! Also FOGP can always use your help. If it be to help organize an event, do some fundraising or shuffle in some sand.
Friends of Grattan Playground