A mixture of sun, plenty of kids, gleaming playground equipment, a community garden coming in bloom and a blessing from indigenous peoples combined to create a memorable day as the Mission’s first new park in a decade was inaugurated on June 23. Its name: In Chan Kaajal, which translates as “My Little Town” in Mayan. According to San Francisco Recreation and Park officials, the name pays homage to Mayan-speaking immigrants, from the Yucatan region of Mexico, who have made the Mission their adopted home over the years.
It took of decade of community advocacy and $5.2 million to transform this parking lot at 17th and Folsom streets into what is now a vibrant meeting ground. This 31,850-square-foot oasis will serve as a parkside porch for the people once the neighboring parking lot at 2060 Folsom is turned into affordable housing by MEDA. To make this happen, MEDA is teaming up with Chinatown Community Development Center, plus architects Mithun Solomon and Y.A. Studio. The 2060 Folsom development will feature 127 apartments for families and transitional-age youth, with a design that gracefully maximizes density and offers opportunities for community building among residents.
A stroll around the park, teeming with Mission families on hand for the inauguration, showcased something for everyone. There’s a cushioned playground with numerous options for kids to burn of excess energy. For adults looking to do the same, there is workout equipment to keep you in shape. There are several water features, too — a nod to Mission Creek, which once ran through this part of San Francisco.
In attendance at the ceremony were a number of people that helped make this park a reality: Phil Ginsburg of Rec and Parks, and his team; Oscar Grande of PODER, an organization that fought for this park for years and will eventually relocate to MEDA’s 2060 Folsom development; and politicians, David Chiu, Scott Wiener and Hillary Ronen.
MEDA staff set up a resource table with information about its 2060 Folsom development, plus the other three new construction affordable-housing developments in the pipeline. Ideas were solicited from community members for what to name the affordable-housing development at 2060 Folsom.
“This park perfectly complements our 2060 Folsom development, offering ample recreation and relaxation opportunities for families right outside their door,” states MEDA Senior Project Manager Elaine Yee. “This park is the result of years of community advocacy — a big win for the Mission.”