A crowd of around 75 community members, including smiling families, came out Saturday for the reopening of Mission Playground. Children played in water fountains next to balloons and a face-painting station. A DJ blasted soul tunes, food trucks catered to the hungry and Supervisor Scott Wiener gave a brief speech.
In a populist gesture, Phil Ginsburg, general manager of the Recreation and Park Department, invited all families present to cut the red ribbon. “This park is open!” he said to cheers and applause.
The renovation of Mission Playground was made possible by a $7.5 million parks bond that was passed in 2008, as well as a partnership with the City Fields Foundation, which gave $500,000 to fund the year-long project.
“If you live around the neighborhood, you know that this park was kind of historically not such a happy place,” said Ginsburg. “If you look at what’s happening here, where that used to be crumbling asphalt, we have given that many more kids a chance to play ball,” he said, gesturing to the green soccer field behind him where two youth teams were engaged in a match.
The newly reopened park boasts synthetic turf fields, resurfaced tennis courts, a large water fountain for kids and an adaptive recreation and inclusionary assessment center for kids with disabilities.
Before the renovation, Mission Playground had asphalt fields, and soccer players who fell down could be seriously hurt. It was also a popular spot for drug use, according to Ginsburg.
“What you have today is as beautiful of a small urban park as I could imagine,” he said.
Wiener noted the importance of Proposition B on this November’s ballot — a $195 million parks bond that would go toward maintaining and improving public space. “When the voters invest in our parks it is just stunning,” he said. “I know we’re going to do it again this fall with Prop. B, our parks bond.”
Supporters of the bond, like San Francisco Parent-Teacher Association President Albert Ko, held green signs that read “Yes on B: Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks.”
“I’m a parent, and we’re pushing for Prop. B, because I think it’s important to speak up for the kids because they can’t vote,” he said. Investing in the city’s parks will make families less inclined to move across the bay, Ko said. “We need something like Prop. B to make San Francisco a destination … so that families have places to go and to recreate.”
After speeches from Wiener, Ginsburg and others, families gathered to cut the red ribbon, a task usually reserved for VIPs. One man, Cesar Hernandez, stood in the background with a piece of the cast-off ribbon around his neck.
Hernandez used to bring his children, now adults, to Mission Playground.
“I feel excited. I didn’t like this park before because there were a lot of gangs,” Hernandez said in Spanish. “If you could see my skin you could tell I have goosebumps.”