SAN FRANCISCO—Creative new play equipment for kids of all ages and a park makeover inspired by nature greeted families Thursday evening at the unveiling of the renovated Herz Playground in McLaren Park, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department announced today.
The new playground marks the 10th of 13 playgrounds slated for renovation through the Let’sPlaySF! initiative, a public-private partnership to bring creative playspaces to neighborhoods across the city as prioritized by a citizen task force.
Thursday’s celebration included a ribbon cutting by city officials, community members, and the family of Dr. Francis Joseph Herz, a former Rec and Park Commissioner for whom the park was named when it opened in 1965.
“Great parks and playgrounds are essential for communities to thrive, and San Francisco has so many amazing outdoor spaces to offer," said Mayor London Breed. "I’m thrilled that our kids in Visitacion Valley and Sunnydale now have a beautiful place where they can have fun and enjoy their community."
The $3.38 million renovation of Herz playground includes two play areas, each geared toward different age groups. Younger children enjoyed a new play structure with slides and activity panels, toddler swings, a bobble rider, and harmony flower chimes for outdoor musical play. Older kids played steel drums and quenched their thirst for adventure by gliding above ground on a track ride, climbing a play tower with two slides, and practicing their agility on a climbing wall.
The playground’s colors were inspired by the green of McLaren Park’s grass, the orange of the California poppy, and the bright blue of the adjacent clubhouse mural.
The renovation project also included replacing deteriorated concrete walkways and walls with new paths, benches, and picnic tables, as well as adding a drinking fountain. The clubhouse bathroom has been upgraded and new landscaping, including boulders, highlight the park’s natural setting.
The new design was conceived with input from residents, through both in-person and online community meetings, as well as surveys in English, Spanish, and Chinese.
The renovations at Herz Playground will complement the adjacent future Herz Recreation Center which will go into construction in the fall. Together these park improvements will serve as a community hub for Visitacion Valley and Sunnydale residents and students at the nearby Visitacion Valley Middle School.
“Today we are witnessing the fruits of the labor of so many. We promised improved parks and more recreation space. This is another promise being fulfilled,” said District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton. “New parks, new housing, a new gym and more services, demonstrates our commitment to Sunnydale and the residents that have fought hard for this growth.”
Let’sPlaySF! is a partnership between SF Rec and Park and the San Francisco Parks Alliance that combines philanthropic donations with public funds from the 2012 Clean and Safe Neighborhoods Park Bond to support playground renovations across San Francisco. Additional funding for Herz Playground was provided through Visitacion Valley developer impact fees.
“Playgrounds are so much more than what meets the eye. They are hubs for connection between neighbors and families across generations. They are vital to the physical, mental and social development of children. It is a thrill to see this state-of-the-art, imaginative playground come to fruition and the best part is this is just the beginning of a new era of recreation for this vibrant community,” San Francisco Recreation and Park Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg said.
"Herz Playground has come a long way from where we started, and it's a credit to the surrounding community that shaped the plan. It's a wonderful addition to a great park that will be well loved in the years to come," said SF Parks Alliance CEO Drew Becher.
Reprinted from RPD Press Release, August 25, 2023.