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Brooks Park's Future - A Master Plan

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Brooks Park Master Plan

Shields & Ramsell Streets, SF CA 94132

Brooks Park is a seven acre hilltop park located on the southwestern-most hilltop in San Francisco. The park offers sweeping views of the Farallone Islands and Mt Tamalpais, as well as of a major part of western San Francisco and Lake Merced. The essential character of the park is a native plant wilderness that is gardened for the purpose of preserving and enhancing the wildlife drawn to the park by the presence of native, drought-resistant plants and the geographical features of this park’s hilly, rocky terrain. In addition, on the east side of the park, a one acre community garden as well as an adjacent asphalted “Tai Chi area” serve as community-gathering points with outdoor recreation offerings of Tai Chi classes, ping pong, bocce ball, volley ball, badminton, racquet ball and vegetable/fruit growing.
The majority of the park’s vegetated areas are managed by the Recreation and Park Department’s Natural Areas Program (NAP) with extensive assistance from neighbors.
The central interior of the park is surrounded by sandstone rock walls originally constructed by the Brooks family. This section of park is managed by the regular Recreation & Park gardeners, with major assistance from the neighbors. A 50 foot
wide DPW Right-of-Way extends from the intersection of Arch Street and Shields Street 200 feet south, and is registered with the Department of Public Works (DPW) as an official DPW Street Park (Arch-Shields Street Park) that is cleaned, planted and maintained by the neighbors in collaboration with DPW and Rec & Park. See the Brooks Park Map below to see a schematic layout of the park.

Concept Plans for Brooks Park

1. Structural Plans
2. Recreation Program Plans
3. Gardening Plans
4. Funding Plans

Structural Plans

• Granite Circle.
• Rope and Semi-Globe Play-Climbing Structures (Berliner Seilfabrik).
• Granite Curbstone Rock Amphitheater.
• Stone or concrete ping pong table.
• Wheel chair ramp continuation into the Tai Chi area.

Because the interior core of Brooks Park was the original home of the Brooks family, the defining rock stone walls surrounding this core should be preserved due to their beauty and unique character. Repairs to these walls should be conducted by qualified Rec & Park stone masons on an as-needed basis to the extent possible. Similarly, the maintenance by the Park Department of the single barbecue grill and the two table-benches at the top of the park is also important since these items are used regularly by community members. The seating circle of wood log stumps and the seating circle of granite curb stones (temporarily removed pending administrative approval), also at the top of the hill, are similarly to be maintained in good order as these are used as outdoor classroom seating by many school and college teachers that come to the park with their students for nature education purposes. (Permission for the granite circle installation was applied for in September 2007, and the granite curbstone rocks are currently in storage at Rec & Park GG storage lot). Ronnie Scott, area supervisor, has agreed to present the installation of this project before the commission “as soon as possible” (see Granite Circle above).
The Tai Chi area in the south-east side of the park is currently a flat asphalted area, flanked by a ten foot tall wire fence on the south side and rocky protrusions on the west and north sides. The plans for this area is to make it more useful and attractive to children and artistically minded adults by installing a semi-globe play/climbing structure similar to the one currently installed on the Octavia Blvd Hayes green, as well as two other play structures ( All produced by Berliner Seilfabrik, see Play Structures Image above).
Additionally, to allow SFSU students and other interested parties to express their musical, theatrical and general performance talents in an open forum, a granite rock amphitheater , built of granite curbstones currently held by DPW in the Ingalls Ave storage lot is desired by the neighbors. Mohammed Nuru, DPW Deputy Director and Michael Handy, express interest in supplying the granite curb stones to Brooks Park for the amphitheater project and has a copy of the photoshop rendition of the concept (see granite amphitheater above). Note that the intricate stone work depicted in the photo (photoshopped from Stern Grove) is not expected. Rather, the simple raw look of the granite curb stones as shown in the photo of the granite circle is what is desired for the amphiheater, both for looks and ease/reduced cost of construction.
A smooth-top stone slab or concrete ping pong table is desired for the community garden. Currently the wood ping pong table is deteriorating despite daily covering with a tarp. In Paris and Germany, many parks have durable smooth-top concrete ping pong tables with a steel wire net, so the idea is well-tested (see Ping Pong images above and the Ping Pong recreation program below).
The wheel chair ramp currently ending at the community garden gate should be extended ~110 feet into the Tai Chi area for ADA access. The existing grade is already perfect, which should result in less cost.

Recreation Programs Plans

Brooks Park recreation programs have been a model for inclusive programming for both genders and people of all ages. Thus the playground, the community garden and the Tai Chi area must continue to offer the variety of activities currently occurring: Bocce Ball, ping pong and vegetable gardening in the community garden, along with Tai Chi, volley ball and three future play structures for the development of children’s gross motor skills in the Tai Chi area. Additionally, a badminton court and a one-wall racquetball court have been painted onto the asphalt area just below the community garden for the park users also. Furthermore, “planting strips”, aiming to alleviate the need for wood materials, will be constructed in the south end of the community garden with the required surveys completed (topo plan already submitted in spring 2007 to Marvin Yee, Community Garden Coordinator at the Rec & Park Dept).

Gardening Plans*

The Natural Areas Program staff will continue to the best of their abilities to plant and weed the Natural Areas sections of Brooks Park. As for the interior and the community garden sections of the park, a gardening zone map has already been developed (see Garden Zone Map below) and shared with the Rec & Park gardening staff Ronnie Scott and Charles Sheehy for the purpose of better communication and coordination efforts between neighbors and gardening staff regarding work needed in the interior of the park.
The plan for gardening is basically to continue to plant native California wildlife-attracting, drought-resistant plants throughout the entire property every year during each rainy season – December through February - as rainfall allows. Plants will be supplied by the Recreation & Park Department nursery, NAP and supplemented additionally and substantially by more rare San Francisco seed-specific native plants purchased by neighbors from the HANC Nursery operated by Gregg Gaar.
Weeding of all vegetated areas will be ongoing, with special intensive emphasis during the spring, to eliminate all weeds before they go to seed. The major part of this gardening must be carried out by a few neighbors as the Department does not currently have (and have not had for years) staff to carry out this labor intensive task. The hope is that the Department will gain enough staff some time in the future to lend significant staffing resources towards the crucial spring time weeding efforts needed in the coming years.

* The Brooks Park Environmental Work Group recognizes that the Rec & Park Dept is not comfortable with developing work plans for parks, as it feels like too much of a commitment that may have to go unfulfilled by the Dept (and thus become a point of contention). Therefore, we have developed the above very general, non-committal type of gardening plan for Brooks Park in an effort to have a basic plan in place. At this time, we would like to at least have the four garbage cans emptied once every two weeks.

Funding plan for the structural improvements in Brooks Park

All plans outlined within this document may be revised as funding and staffing resources allow and dictate. The important structural plans outlined in the Structural Plans section above are wholly dependent on Recreation & Park Department funding as well as privately obtained funding. However, since the Recreation & Park Department funding sources are limited and not focused on the southwest corner of San Francisco in the February 2008 $185 million Bond Fund, private funding sources are likely to be the only realistic major funding options for the foreseeable future in Brooks Park.
The basic structural plans framework expressed in this document is a result of the local community neighbors’ input and ideas as expressed over the last many years and thus represent the clearest vision for true neighborhood needs.

Peter Vaernet, RN, 586-1451, March, 2009
Brooks Park Environmental Work Group. OMI Neighbors-In-Action

Schematic Map of Brooks Park

Last updated: March 1, 2009
Copyright © 2009 Ron Madson
El Granada, California
email: Ron Madson