A new place to play is open in Burlingame, as city officials cut the tape on the renovated Washington Park which was improved in the first phase of building a new community center.

The Burlingame City Council celebrated the new facility at 850 Burlingame Ave. during an event Monday, Dec. 9, when community members received their first chance to enjoy the new digs.

The open space features a new playground, sports court and picnic area as well as fresh landscaping in the area adjacent to the community center, where work will soon begin to rebuild the facility.

Parks and Recreation Director Margaret Glomstad lauded the opportunity to offer community members renovated play space and also push forward the community center’s construction.

“We are very excited to complete the first phase of the new community center project,” said Glomstad in an email. “The opening of the new playground, sports court and picnic area has been eagerly awaited by the youth in the community and already, we have seen tremendous use of the playground and basketball court.”

Work on Washington Park started in the summer and lasted several months. It finished a few months ahead of schedule, as officials initially projected that construction could span into the spring.

The playground includes features such as a climbing net, swings and a discovery den complete with play creatures intended to pique the curiosity of children as well as horizontal bars for exercise, said Glomstad. The replica train from the old playground, which was last restored in 2003, was preserved too.

And the sports area can accommodate full-court basketball games, three pickleball courts and one court for futsal, which is soccer played on a hard surface. The new picnic area is also open and available for rental, said Glomstad.

Washington Park playground

Luca Ippolito, 14 months old, explores some of the new features at the Washington Park playground.

Looking ahead, officials are hopeful to soon begin work on rebuilding the new neighboring community center. The project is largely financed with revenue generated by a sales tax hike.

Expenses associated with the project have steadily increased since the community center rebuild was first proposed. Officials sought to control costs earlier this year and keep the budget near the $50 million price tag, which is already substantially more than the neighborhood of $38 million to $41 million which was projected when the facility was first proposed.

Glomstad had previously acknowledged the difficulty officials faced in attempting to keep costs low, as price cuts have already been made around the edges of the design effort to assure the city can afford the project for which the budget floated to nearly $52 million last fall.

As part of the effort to control costs officials earlier this year agreed to split the differential in proposed add-ons by going ahead with drafting plans including features intended to improve the center’s energy efficiency with photovoltaic panels and a green roof; operations with a platform which can be moved indoors or outdoors; emergency preparedness with a generator which can power much of the ground floor in case the facility is used for staging following a natural disaster; and comfort with a sprung wood floor that’s designed to be easier on the joints.

Such options were pursued in lieu of constructing seven more underground parking spaces, which were expected to cost about $470,000. The facility is designed to offer 84 parking spots between underground and surface lots, which meets the city’s design requirements.

To further help finance the project, officials launched a community fundraiser through which they hope to generate additional funds to help offset the rising cost of construction.

The facility is planned as a two-story building, expected to span almost 36,000 square feet at the site of the current recreation center. Should all go according plan, officials are hopeful it will open in 2022.

(650) 344-5200 ext. 105

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(1) comment

Cindy Cornell

Real cost after it's paid off with financing costs? Over $80 million.

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