Current status of the promenade at Dolores Park. Photo by Laura Wenus

It’s time for  the Afternoon Report: 

After considerable delays in the renovation of the park’s northern half due to excess groundwater that forced contractors to install a whole new drainage system, progress is picking back up. Maintenance crews and gardeners will be moving equipment and operations to a new maintenance building February 8, according to gardener Shannon Gorsau.

Gorsau also said he expected construction to start in the field area near the playground sometime next month, though project manager Jacob Gilchrist was not immediately available to confirm this. Inside the green fencing of the northern half of the park, a grand promenade has taken shape but much of the construction site still appears to be just that, consisting mostly of bare dirt and concrete.

In the meantime, park maintenance goes on as always. Gorsau spent this morning trimming palm trees. The areas around the taller palms have been cordoned off because, as Gorsau explained, the spiky, dried-out fronds can actually be quite dangerous if they fall on someone or are blown away to whack an unwitting park-goer. Special equipment is needed to trim the taller specimens, but Gorsau prunes the short ones by hand. And he knows the fronds themselves aren’t the only dangers lurking above:

“I was pruning this morning and a big ol’ rat came down,” he said. “Not to talk bad about it, but there’s tons of rats in this park”

Several other patches of park are also closed to public access because the grass has been eroded and churned into a muddy mess. Gorsau said dogs are a big problem in those areas because they like to dig up the grass, and with a drought to think about and all the underground pipes shut off for construction, sowing new grass and watering it to fill in the holes is out of the question. Instead, gardeners have no choice but to give the maligned swathes of turf some peace and to wait for nature to do the rest. Incidentally, the pipe shutoff is also why the water fountains aren’t working.

Grassy patches are torn up around the park, partly due to dog activity. Photo by Laura Wenus

And, speaking of pipes: It seems park visitors haven’t yet been porta-potty trained, since Gorsau has caught several visitors trying to sneak behind the green construction fence to try to get to the brick-and-mortar restrooms. But of course, those don’t work, and the area is off limits. Ah, well. Hopefully the opening of the northern half of the park and its new restrooms, last scheduled for early 2015 will relieve us of that problem.

This has been your Afternoon Report—a series in which we offer a quickie post-meridian rundown of some minor developments in the always-happening streets of the Mission District. Got ideas or suggestions? Let us know what you think by sending an email to

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