By Chloe Roth
Dolores Park is a prime spot for many activities: basking in the sunshine, finding dates, judging people, smoking and drinking in public, hitting nappers in the head with Frisbees, fraternizing with the locals, feeling claustrophobic, and becoming more attractive (see below). First and foremost is sunshine, of which the rainy months and desk jobs have robbed many SF residents. The exodus to Dolo Park usually begins when the first rays of sun break through the fog, but the true swarm takes place on the first days of summer. Certain contingents (we could call them “the gentrifiers”) arrive looking like the undead: wan, anemic, and skeletal. But by August, Dolores Park has worked its magic: tank top tans have transformed them from “almost-see-through” to a sallow shade of “slightly-less-pale” and little beer bellies round out their skinny frames.
A couple weeks ago, however, it seemed that all this Dolo magic might be coming to a temporary halt.
The rumor mill was circulating claims that in December 2011, an $11.7 million renovation would close down the beloved park for two years. Missionites have been up in arms and ready to make this summer an epic one at Dolores Park, which on a typical day is overpopulated by people, dogs, and fixed gear bikes. It appeared that this physical crowding would soon have an emotional counterpart wrought with nostalgia and swan song sentiments. It all came about when San Francisco’s “Recreation and Parks Department” (whose syntax-switch makes them sound more reputable now that Amy Poehler has made a parody of the standard order) put out a very unsettling project report. A frenzy of angry Dolo-ites protested with a Facebook page called “Don't close ALL of Dolores Park for the whole time!!!”
Shortly after the surge of local melodrama, the rumors were dispelled. Some Mission Mission and SFist posts tried to clear the air. Dolores Park Works explained that the whole park will not be closed, the renovations will be done in phases, and the work will be done in the off-season. For the moment, it seemed that you could rest easy knowing that there would not be a mass of Dolo Park orphans wandering the streets, wondering where to get their tan on, and looking like the cast of Thriller.
But after the Guardian took a closer look at the Parks Department’s plans in last week’s paper, it appears that the fate of the park remains unclear (even the Facebook page membership has risen from 822 to 1,239 since press time). If you’d like to take matters into your own hands, here is your opportunity: the Parks Department is hosting the first official public meeting about the Dolores Park renovations. The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, March 3. Go ask the crucial questions: Will the renovation plans affect park usage, and if so, how and for how long? Does the Parks Department plan to take the community’s objections into account? And most importantly, where will we tan?
Shining Light on 2008 Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond Projects: Mission Dolores Park
Dolores Park Church
455 Dolores, SF