Space is always an issue in cities, but for families with children, finding safe places to play can be particularly challenging. Many parents wonder when they pass by their child's school on the weekend why the playground isn't open for use. School districts control a lot of open space, but getting access to play areas outside of school hours can be tricky.
Soon 80 San Francisco schools will open their playgrounds on weekends as part of an expansion to a pilot program called the Shared Schoolyard Project. The costs of maintenance and safety are shared between different city departments.
In an article for The Atlantic Gail Cornwall explains why these kinds of shared use partnerships can be difficult to get off the ground:
Some were concerned that opening the playgrounds would make them vulnerable to destruction. But a stolen trash can and a broken terracotta pot are the program’s worst reported incidents. Vandalism and trespassing have even decreased. Why? “An active schoolyard is a safe schoolyard,” Farrell says. Weekend users seem to feel a sense of stewardship, picking up granola bar wrappers, broken pencils, and other school-day detritus.