Big Section of Dolores Park Reopening After Makeover

A 2012 aerial view of Dolores Park in San Francisco's Mission District. The city has just finished renovating the park's northern half, at the left in this picture. (Todd Lappin/Flickr)

Construction fences are coming down in San Francisco’s Dolores Park this Thursday. The northern portion of the popular park will be reopening to the public after an $8 million facelift and more than a year of being closed.

The major renovations to the park address some of the main concerns brought up during public planning meetings, like public urination and the condition of the lawn.

Dolores Park now boasts a new 27-stall restroom, an upgrade from the previous four stalls. Six acres of pristine turf have also been laid on top of the park’s rolling hills. The turf is a Bermuda grass blend designed to stand up to heavy use.

But even with these new additions, park officials say the essential character of the beloved park is still the same.

“Fixing the park but not changing it significantly was one of the biggest concerns that the residents had,” says project manager Jake Gilchrist. “We are really trying to lower the maintenance burden on our staff and improve the infrastructure of the park while also really honoring the history of the park.”

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Other new features to the park include widened sidewalks, revamped tennis and basketball courts, a new multiuse court and free public Wi-Fi.

Dolores Park is one of the city’s most densely used parks, drawing anywhere from 7,000 to 10,000 visitors on any given weekend, officials say. And with thousands of picnicking parkgoers comes a lot of trash.

“About 3 million gallons of trash a year were going directly to landfill,” says San Francisco Recreation and Park spokeswoman Sarah Ballard. “That’s pretty un-San Francisco.”

To combat that, the park has increased its capacity to collect trash by 36 percent. Larger receptacles sit on the perimeter of the park and a new pilot recycling pop-up program began in April.

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The second and final phase of the park’s $20.5 million overhaul will also begin on Thursday, closing the south and west ends of the park. Park officials say they hope to have the entire Dolores Park renovations finished by early 2016.

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