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Redesigning play: San Mateo has big plans for its outdated Beresford Park
November 12, 2013, 05:00 AM By Samantha Weigel Daily Journal

Images courtesy of Miller Company Landscape Architects
Images/drafts of playground features that will be part of San Mateo’s redesigned Beresford Park.

With extensive community input and childhood imagination, the San Mateo Parks and Recreation Department is narrowing in on a wondrous design for the playground at Beresford Park.

In September 2012, the city began to develop plans for a playground similar to the existing layout and asked for public input. An unenthusiastic response inspired the city to seek a more innovative design and sought ideas from children at Beresford Elementary School.

With help from local fifth graders, the landscape architect firm Miller Company took the outdated 1989 play area and created a design that will enthuse visitors of all ages.

A slide mountain, monkey bars, spire towers, water features, spin city and pendulum swings were some of the unique elements now sprinkled into the chosen design. Free formed abstract play and natural materials inspire Jeffrey Miller, principal of Miller Company, and design architect of the proposed playground.

“How do we keep kids interested in coming back to the park as they grow older? … It’s a park that kids can grow into,” Miller said.

Two design options were presented with the main difference being the installation of water play features. Option two allotted for a splash pad with spigots and a creek that fills when kids use a hand pump.

Public comment was generated through meetings and an online forum. The use of aquatic features in the playground received mixed reviews. Weather conditions, the cleanliness and water waste were at the core of citizens’ concerns. Several parents related the joy their children experience with the water play structure at Ryder Park on the city’s Bayshore and thought it would be a great addition.

After thorough consideration, Parks and Recreation commissioners decided on a modified option that would only incorporate the hand pumped creek, including a filtration system and plans to reuse the water to irrigate the surrounding fields.

Recycling the water should be told as part of the park’s story so children can learn about conservation through play, Miller said.

The use of stacked natural boulders was momentarily controversial due to safety concerns, however, the rocks will be cubed, stacked and thoroughly sealed, yet still provide an organic feel, Miller said.

“We’re of the mind that we want to expose our kids to nature, not to sanitize them to it,” Miller said.

Kids spend so much time outdoors on sports teams, the idea of free form play at a park that is still challenging to younger and older kids alike is wonderful, said Reena Korb, the mother of two 5-year-old twins who live across the street from the park.

Picnic tables, shaded seating, a mosaic tunnel, rubber mound, winding net climber, sand box and a small amphitheater will be incorporated into the new park.

This signatory park comes with a hefty price tag. The city originally budgeted $1.3 million for the renovation, but the new design is estimated to cost between $2.6 million to $3 million.

The city has also budgeted for renovation of the Laurie Meadows Park; however, it is already unable to take on that project for at least a year due to staff scheduling, said Sheila Canzian, director of Parks and Recreation. Whether the city could borrow from those funds and pay it back during the next fiscal year may be an option, but it’s not ideal, Canzian said.

Both Parks and Recreation Commissioner Papia Gambelin and Canzian proposed fundraising would be plausible and believe the community would be supportive. The next step is for the department to finalize the design and costs. It may then isolate certain features of the park to ask the public for support toward or that it may remove.

Parks and Recreation Commissioner Stan Watkins was initially weary of the exotic design, but he and his fellow commissioners became enthusiastic by the presentation and discussion of the grand possibilities. Renovating this park isn’t something the city does every few years, or even every few decades, so if they’re going to invest, it should be a first-class renovation, Watkins said.

The city also moved to continue Beresford Park to be used community resource by renewing its lease with the San Mateo Garden Center at a council meeting Monday. The city receives $1 per year in exchange for the self-supporting center’s encouragement of garden clubs and horticulture organizations throughout the community.

(650) 344-5200 ext. 106



Tags: design, miller, water, parks, recreation, features,

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