Cayuga Park in San Francisco sees future renovation
Ingleside Light, Summer 2010
Cayuga Park has seen better days.
The famous park has a fence and chains around its play areas and the clubhouse closed two years ago due to plumbing issues. However, plans to rebuild Cayuga Park are in the final stag- es as community members and city departments figure out to maintain and enhance the garden-like vibe of the park.
The joint venture between the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, The Cayuga Improvement Association and the San Francisco Arts Commission needs final approval from the Art Commission, which is scheduled to happen in September. Prospective park builders will then be sought for afterward. Funding for the park came from the 2008 voter-approved $185 million Neighborhood Parks bond that gave money to parks in dire need of repair. Funding also came from BART to replace the playground area that will be removed while they rebuild the track support columns.
The renovation, which the city planned to be completed by the Summer of 2012, will replace the antiquated park clubhouse with facilities the community can use and provide a safe place for families and residents in the area. At one point, the park offered kids programs throughout the week. Currently, the park suffers from a lack of programs space families can enjoy.
“It used to be nice and clean 20 years ago,” resident Bill Short said. “It’s run down hill no doubt.” 93-year-old Bill Short has lived on Foote and Cayuga Streets for 69 years and raised all of his kids there. He said sometimes they’d run down to the park and play or catch frogs by the old lake formerly in the park.
“It was a great place to grow up,” his daugh- ter Shirley Short said. She noted that at one time the park was gorgeous and that though it still has plenty of charm, the vandalism and facility closures aren’t helping to portray that. She attributed the vandalism to kids having no stake in the park. “It’s too bad the city can’t provide the same support as they used to, but people need to take care of the park as well,” she said.
“We have a lot of young children taken care of by their grandmother and there’s no bathroom available 95 percent of the time, you know, no drinking fountain, it’s just rough to have a child down there and not have something you can do with them,” CIA member Barbara Fugate said. Fugate, along with other members of CIA, worked closely with Recreation and Parks architect Marvin Yee and the San Francisco Art Commission to help design the park and new clubhouse. She said currently families seek outside of the park’s area for kids programs and lei- sure space. The new park and clubhouse will hopefully change that. One key element was to rebuild the clubhouse.
“Our whole goal was to build something ecological responsible as well as a building that fits in this neighborhood,” Fugate said. After plenty of meetings and an architect change, the planned clubhouse now includes an additional space increase of 1000 square feet to accommodate more programs, more windows to increase natural lighting and a pathway to channel rain water. There are more plans to make the clubhouse more environmental friendly in the future such as solar panels for energy, but the priority is to have the park up and clubhouse running as soon as possible Fugate said.
Another key element was to redesign the park layout. The children’s play area is located in the back of the park and at its present size makes it harder for parents to watch their children Fugate said. However, the new plan called for the playground location to switch with the larger basketball court area, which should provide better supervision and space for kids. Other notable renovation plans for Cayuga Park include new planter boxes throughout the park, better fencing to discourage loitering and vandalism, and redesigned entrance on Cayuga Avenue as opposed to the cross street Naglee Street.
Unfortunately, construction won’t begin until BART finishes earthquake reinforce- ment on the aerial structures throughout Daly City and San Francisco, several of which that run alongside Cayuga park. “It’s in BART’s hands at the moment”, Fugate said. BART started rebuilding the track support columns in May and their plans call for completion by March 2011 accord- ing to Recreation and Parks Architect Marvin Yee.
One of the most prominent features of Cayuga Playground are the wooden sculptures retired gardener Demetrio Barceros made 20 years ago. The Arts Commission curator arranged the restoration of half of these sculptures and placed the rest in storage until the park reopens Fugate said. The sculptures remaining in the park are beyond repair and are left to decay.
Luckily, Baceros planned to make roughly 15 new pieces to debut at the park reopening. According to Fugate, none of this would have happened without the community around Cayuga park coming together.
“People have to get involved. They have to make time to work with the city or this won’t happen the way you want it to. Someone from the community needs to make sure plans reflect the needs” she said.