Heron’s Head Park Gets $2.5 Million Makeover
By Sasha Lekach
Tucked away in a nook of Bayview’s coastline, Heron’s Head Park, a 24-acre piece of green jutting into the San Francisco Bay from the intersection of Jennings Street and Cargo Way, is a destination for dog walkers, bird watchers and native plant lovers; all the more so since renovations to the park were completed last fall. The open space, named for the shape it resembles when viewed from above, underwent a $2.5 million makeover funded by a 2008 municipal park bond. The revamped space was unveiled late last year in a ceremony that included Mayor Ed Lee.
Improvements to the park – which formally opened as a green space in 1999 – include the addition of an off-leash dog run, a parking lot with 25 spots, two green “composting” restrooms, bicycle racks, kiosks with park, wildlife, restoration and other information, and barbecue pits and bench areas.
The off-leash space has been positively received, according to Port of San Francisco environmental affairs manager Carol Bach, and is fulfilling its purpose to provide an area where dogs can run around without disturbing wildlife, which had been frequently occurring with unauthorized off-leash behavior on the park’s main path. It appears that many dog owners who use the park are “relieved that there is a place for off-leash dogs,” Bach said.
Potrero Hill business owner and Bernal Heights resident Dave Dos Santos regularly visits the park with his seven-year-old dog, “Toe.” Dos Santos comes almost daily after his work at Potrero Coin Laundry on 18th Street, and loves what the Port has done with the park. On one evening at dusk, Dos Santos said his favorite part of the little-known open space is the views framed by industrial buildings at Pier 96, the City lights from Hunters Point, and the distant Oakland hills across the water. He also called construction of the parking lot a major improvement compared to the less than desirable parking options that were previously available.
Improvements were also made to the path that leads to the tip of the park, which had consisted of decomposed granite and was eroding. Mid-way through the renovation process – which commenced in 2010 – the Port decided to repave the path with a different granite material – called “granitecrete” – which is more permeable and lasts longer. The EcoCenter building in the center of the park wasn’t modified. However, according to Bach the educational programming which had been operated by Bayview-based Literacy for Environmental Justice is no longer being offered. The Port is looking for a new operator to provide environmental education and youth programming at the center.
More changes will come this year, with a public art piece slated to be added to the park sometime in late-2013. Blue Greenway signage will be installed by the fall near the park to provide continuity along the entire Greenway trail system, the San Francisco portion of the multi-county Bay Trail.
Although not named after the native herons, Bach noted that a Great Blue Heron hangs-out at the furthest pond away from Heron’s Head entrance. Other birds in the marsh include California Clapper Rail, American Avocet and dozens of others flying south during the winter months. A diversity of bird species can be seen at the park in November, December and January, the peak of the migratory season.
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