A $1.67 million renovation has transformed a former grassy field at Merced Heights Playground into a paradise for neighborhood recreation, with areas for people to picnic or exercise, dogs to frolic, and hummingbirds and butterflies to feed.
The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department hosted a community celebration at the renovated terrace today with neighbors and city and state leaders. It included a senior fitness demonstration on the park’s new exercise equipment, a speaking program on the new plaza, and the unveiling of a tile mosaic recognizing community members for their contributions over the years.
Improvements also include a welcoming and accessible entrance, rolling natural lawn, fenced dog play area, benches, picnic tables and a drinking fountain The park's landscaping includes a butterfly and hummingbird garden, providing an inviting habitat for local wildlife.
Covering approximately 17,000 square feet, the revitalized lower lawn terrace brings fresh life to the park, the majority of which reopened 2021 following a renovation driven by the LetsPlaySF! playground initiative. The lower lawn was left out of the previous renovation due to budget constraints.
The majority of funding to complete the lower lawn terrace, a California State Parks Local Assistance State Grant, was shepherded through the state by Assembly Budget Chair Phil Ting.
“It’s important to keep investing in parks because they create safe spaces, opportunities to gather and promote wellness. This state funding I helped deliver to my district for this project will have a profound impact on this community for generations to come,” said Ting, who secured $1.37 million in 2019 for this project.
Senior community members advocated strongly for the renovation and helped shape the terrace’s new design, which ensures harmonious use of the space by diverse groups. The open lawn, pathway, and paved gathering space along the perimeter appealed to local seniors, while a fenced dog play area honored the neighborhood’s tradition of bringing their pets to the park. Public Works landscape architects led the design work.
“This neighborhood spent decades advocating for changes to this park and I am thrilled to see the completion of the Merced Heights Playground’s Lower Terrace,” said District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safaí, “The pandemic showed us the importance of having accessible open spaces close to home. This newly renovated space will serve everyone including, children, families, seniors and dog owners.”
“The renovation of Merced Heights Playground has been a labor of love for neighbors, many of whom are now enjoying the park with their grandchildren after raising their kids in the neighborhood. The transformation of the lower terrace is the final piece of the puzzle,” said San Francisco Recreation and Park General Manager Phil Ginsburg. “This beloved park really has something for everyone now—kids, families, seniors, and dogs.”
Reprinted from press release, May 19, 2023.