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New look for Dolores Park is taking root

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Mission Dolores Park’s 13.7 acres have been “loved to death,” according to the Rec and Park Department. - SF EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • SF Examiner file photo
  • Mission Dolores Park’s 13.7 acres have been “loved to death,” according to the Rec and Park Department.

For a park that attracts thousands of San Francisco’s colorful and diverse characters on sunny days, it is no wonder the $11.7 million renovation of Mission Dolores Park has taken years and more than 50 community meetings.

But the future look of the park has finally come into focus, after  passionate debates among aficionados about where people go to play bike polo, tennis, lay around naked, strum a guitar, walk their dogs, drink beer in the sun or bring children to use the playground.

The proposed future of these 13.7 acres include a new irrigation system, refurbished tennis courts, a relocated basketball court, an off-leash dog play area on the north and south sides, new bathrooms near the tennis courts and near the picnic area, and a multipurpose court specifically designed to handle bike polo.

The center clubhouse will be removed and replaced with turf to open up the middle of the park.

The park’s very popularity has created the need to overhaul the space. The department describes the park as being “loved to death,” with “trampled plants, compacted soil, overused restrooms and constant littering.”

“This is a reminder to us all about just how important open space is in a dense urban environment,” said Phil Ginsburg, general manager of the Recreation and Park Department.

The department presented the renovation design Wednesday night at a community meeting at Mission High School after press time, and the department’s capital planning committee is scheduled to vote March 7 on the plan. After a review by the Planning Department, the Recreation and Park Commission is scheduled to take a final vote on the plan in August.

Funding for the park renovation was included in the February 2008 parks bond. If ultimately approved, work on the park would occur in phases, leaving sections of the park open for enjoyment. All of the work is scheduled for completion by July 2014.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com