The Portola Neighborhood Association (PNA) will unveil the Portola’s new Burrows Pilot Park with a block party and family-friendly event on Saturday, July 20th from 1:00- 3:00 p.m. The celebration will be at the dead end of Burrows Street at San Bruno Avenue at the park site and will include performances, games for children and coffee samples by one of the City’s hottest coffee houses, Four Barrel. The PNA has reclaimed the neglected dead end that was a site of frequent homeless encampments, dumping and graffiti tags and has created the only shared community space on San Bruno Avenue. The park features native plant landscaping, a bioswale to help with drainage and water table cleansing, stone outcroppings, permeable paving and a bridge over a river of grass. With the formation of the pilot park and cooperation from a supportive property owner and the Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD), the PNA was able to attract the popular coffee house, Four Barrel, which will open later this summer in a retail space adjacent to the park.
“The Burrows Pilot Park has been a labor of love for everyone involved,” said OEWD Senior Project Manager, Crezia Tano. “The commitment from community leaders and the tremendous support from Architecture from Humanity have truly been inspiring. The project exemplifies how public/private partnerships can make positive change in a community.” While Michael Anthony, the owner of the property immediately adjacent to the pilot park acknowledges, "the decision to support and invest in this project was an easy one for us. Not only is corridor revitalization good for the neighborhood and its businesses, it's also a great deal for the property owners. We really appreciate the efforts of the PNA and the Mayor’s office in helping to make this happen."
San Bruno Avenue is a bustling, busy commercial corridor in San Francisco’s underserved southeastern quadrant. The construction of Highway 101 in the 1950’s terminated five of neighborhood’s east-west streets into dead ends. In recent years they have become neglected and abused, with trash dumping a regular occurrence and graffiti tags in abundance. The PNA started looking for ways to curb the mess. The spaces, because they are owned as part of CalTrans highway frontage, did not fit into the City’s parklet or street park programs. The PNA reached out to CalTrans and DPW to forge a relationship to make the community space a reality. In 2012, the organization was awarded that year’s largest grant by San Francisco’s Community Challenge Grant of $65,000 to make the vision a reality.
The PNA will christen the Burrows Pilot Park with an eye toward the future. PNA Board member, Ruth Wallace, explains, “Our ultimate goal is to activate each of the dead ends so that residents that live along San Bruno Avenue can have a clean, outdoor space to enjoy, businesses can use them for outdoor seating and children can play safely.” The PNA envisions that this is just the first of many new parks on San Bruno Avenue.
The PNA has been raising money and seeking grants for this project for nearly four years and began with installing street trees on Burrows. They partnered with the Portola Garden District Tour to offer work projects to City College of San Francisco students in the Environmental Horticulture and Floristry department to work on improving the San Bruno Avenue streetscape. Residents, business owners and city employees have helped to make this once neglected space into an inviting spot for the whole neighborhood to enjoy.
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