Rec and Park Exploring Shifting McKinley Square Fence Towards the Freeway
By Keith Burbank
The fence on the southwest side of McKinley Square, bordering Highway 101, may be shifted closer to the freeway, creating more space for the park's dog play area and native vegetation. “People have been talking about it for years. Everybody is positive about it because it will expand more useable area for trails and native planting, said Cris Rys, Potrero Hill resident and McKinley Square Community Association (MSCA) member. “People are happy about it, and we're happy that CalTrans and SF Recreation and Park are making this happen.”
But in response to an inquiry from the View, the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) said it wasn’t able to comment about moving the fence until it gets the go-ahead from the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department (RPD). According to RPD, moving the fence is under consideration. “Our shared goal is to better McKinley Square Park, and moving the fence line is one of the many ideas we are exploring,” said Connie Chan, RPD spokesperson.
“There are a number of critical steps that have to take place between [CalTrans] and the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department,” said CalTrans’ Steve Williams. “And until that happens, nothing is moving. So it would be premature for me to comment on something that may or may not happen. The ball is not in our court, so to speak. If that changes, I'd be happy to respond. But I would need some direction from the City on this.” According to Chan, CalTrans will be repairing the existing fence. “SF Rec and Park is always open to work with the community to improve our parks,” Chan added.
According to Rys, CalTrans doesn't want the responsibility of maintaining the land between the fence and the freeway. And increasing the amount of green space in Potrero Hill would be a good thing. “So it seems to be a win-win situation for everybody. It would be disappointing if this didn't happen,” Rys added.
The existing fence is southwest of the park's plateau at Vermont and 20th streets, on the hillside — which has been designated a dog play area — and toward Highway 101. Eighty percent of the park is “legally designated for off-leash dog-play,” according to the McKinley Square Park Foundation’s (MSPF) website. The park’s plateau includes a flat grassy area adjacent to a children's playground.
Roughly a decade ago MSCA and MSPF launched efforts to improve the park, planting flowers on the hillside below the plateau, among other things. “All of the western hillside, where the fence is located has recently been upgraded thanks to Recreation and Parks, local volunteers, and park partnerships like the Arc of San Francisco,” according to MSPF’s website. Today the park has a master plan to be used as a guide for future improvements.
McKinley Square is one of San Francisco's oldest parks, dating to the late-1870s, making it a contemporary of Union Square — which was presented to the City in 1850 — Franklin Square, Jackson Square, and Golden Gate Park.
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