And no, no bike path is planned…
By Bonnee Waldstein
Glen Park residents had a great opportunity on a spectacular Saturday, weather-wise, to hike for two hours through the major trails of the park, led by folks from the Department of Recreation and Parks, Department of Public Works, and the Trust for Public Lands.
This was part of the continuing dialogue about how to allocate $900,000 in funds for trail improvements in Glen Park, through the 2008 Clean & Safe Neighborhoods Parks Bond.
The difference here was, rather than bickering back and forth in meetings at the Glen Park Recreation Center, this was a field trip in which everyone could agree on preserving the joys of nature and wilderness in Glen Park. Walk, stop, talk — that was the agenda.
Armed with trail maps and clipboards, hikers were divided into three groups to facilitate conversation and exchange of ideas along the trails. There was plenty of room on the maps for writing suggestions and observations for later consideration.
Several people feared that there was a plan afoot to put a bicycle path through the park, starting at Portola Drive and ending at Elk Street. However, no such plan exists. Other concerns were about disturbing habitat for coyotes and other creatures, “over-improving” trails beyond their natural state, and clearing away too much vegetation.
A close look at conditions on the trails as the hike progressed seemed to convince many that some degree of modification is necessary to keep the trails useable, safe, and fun. For example, in some areas the trails are eroding away and would benefit from a solution that is in place in a limited stretch — timber edges on either side, filled in with a mixture of gravel and decomposed granite, over which debris would fall, preserving the natural appearance of the trail as well as the trail itself. In areas that remain muddy long after a rainfall, stepping-stones or wooden logs would help walkers navigate through. Invasive species such as cape ivy, which threaten to overtake sections of trail, could be cleared.
Any improvements to parks trigger federal standards for accessibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The act requires that persons with disabilities have access to an “equivalent” experience in the park as would an able-bodied person. This could be addressed, for example, with an accessible loop beginning at Alms Road, crossing the bridge over to Silvertree Camp, continuing on that trail out to the Bosworth Street entrance. At this location, there could be a handicap parking space. The area would be cleared of obstacles that impede movement over the trail, such as large rocks, roots, and stumps. Slopes that are too steep for a wheelchair would be scaled down.
Beyond this limited area, the trails would remain as is, where people could scamper over rocks and duck under or leap over tree limbs at will.
One of the stops was at part of the trail that leads to the School of the Arts, which is SFUSD property. There’s a hole in the fence surrounding their property from which students can enter the park, which is a cause of some concern.
Other access points to the park were discussed in much detail. Several people suggested access to the park along O’Shaugnessy Boulevard and a trail through, so that walkers wouldn’t have to go the length of O’Shaughnessy to go to the park, but could have a more enjoyable experience by cutting through into the park at some point along the way.
A more elaborate idea is to connect the park with O’Shaughnessy Hollow and into Mt. Davidson. This would involve the MTA in configuring a way across O’Shaughnessy Boulevard.
After the plan for the trails is adopted, there will be an evaluation of the tree situation by a third party consultant. An arborist will do a health assessment of trees along the trail and assign a hazard rating based on such features as the lean of the tree and the weight of the limbs in areas that are in close proximity to park users, as well as the overall health of the tree.
This was the second of two focus groups on trail improvements. It was clear from this field trip that there is no substitute for walking the walk.