Monday, August 30, 2010

Neighbors Seek Makeover for Panhandle Park, Request Community Input

Red shows areas of standing water; yellow indicates paths considered for improvement

Panhandle Park Stewards recently pushed back the mud, filled edge with turf strips

Worn out "grassy" mounds in the central area of Panhandle near playground, restrooms

Path at Stanyan not wide enough for restroom maintenance vehicles

Neighbors around the Panhandle have drafted an ambitious proposal for capital improvements to the central area of Panhandle Park and will submit it to the Recreation and Parks Department (RPD) on September 24th. Primary components of the plan are rebuilding the walking paths, improving the children's playground, adding bicycle parking, and upgrading benches and plantings. The proposal will focus on the central area of the park close to the playground, basketball court, and restrooms. Organizers invite comments on the plan and especially seek collaborations for the upgrades. The neighbors hope their plan will be selected for implementation through the Community Opportunity Fund, a new program of RPD intended to finance a few capital improvement projects developed by community groups.

Dale Danley, one of the key organizers of the proposal, explained that the scope of the project is to revitalize and create a more vibrant park environment. "We respect the history of the park and its 100-year-old trees and we don't recommend a change to the overall design of the pathways and plantings," he said. Instead, the group focuses on the area most visited in the Park.

A draft of the Panhandle neighbor's proposal highlights priorities and improvements.

Panhandle Paths
  • rebuild and raise the walking paths above the landscape to prevent erosion
  • redesign the troubled irrigation system that leaves paths muddy with puddles
  • reroute service vehicles to specific routes to reduce ruts and turf damage
  • retain the south path for pedestrians and improve a long section of it
  • repaving the entire south path is beyond the scope of the funding program
  • the 10-year-old playground recently received a "D" grade in a citywide playground review
  • convert large areas of the play area to rubber instead of the current sand to reduce maintenance costs and enhance running and playing
  • long-term plans include replacing the play structures overall for more modern equipment
Bike Parking and Safety Info Stop
  • the Panhandle currently has no bike racks and secure parking is needed
  • with the surge in bicycling in the city, the multi-use path is heavily used now leading to friction between people walking, jogging, and biking
  • construct a modern bike parking and bike safety station for residents and tourists
  • information would help bikers navigate the city's expanding network of bikeways, encourage courtesy on the multi-use path, and promote safe biking
Benches and Planting
  • the area near the playground and basketball courts now features three small grassy mounds with turf in poor condition
  • the benches are old and worn and do not invite people from the neighborhood
  • with new landscaping and seating, the area could become an attractive centerpiece
Resurfacing Basketball Court
  • the proposal targets this area for improvement, but cost constraints may require it be addressed in later phases
Danley said the group has been advised that the strongest proposals will include collaborations with landscaper architects and donations of materials and time of skilled professionals and community members. He noted that one opportunity for local firms is the design of high-quality and original bike racks that add to the character of the park.

To send feedback or volunteer to help with the project, contact Dale Danley, Panhandle Park Stewards: or Leela Gill, North of the Panhandle Neighborhood Association,


  1. Sounds fabulous. Definitely put me down on the volunteers list.

  2. Need more and better placement of trash cans.

    How can we make the South pedestrian path more user friendly to draw pedestrians away from the multi-use path?

  3. We've got our eyes on some better trash cans. More trash cans? maybe...
    To start making the south path better in that area, to start, we'll try to clear the paths of the standing water and also try to correct the social path (through the dirt) that's created behind the gardener's building.