The stairs around the Esmeralda slides were closed for a few weeks recently while works crews laid down new concrete as part of the ongoing Esmeralda Slide Park renovation project. That was a nuisance, but now that work is complete, and the stairs are open again. Hurrah!
So what’s next? Neighbors Joan and Nancy, your volunteer cat-herders and advocates for the Esmeralda Slide Park renovation, wrote to Bernalwood to share this update:
The Esmeralda Stairs between Prospect and Winfield were finally opened up ,just days before 4th of July weekend. This marks the first sign of a restoration of our beloved Stairway after almost 2 difficult months when the only access was to skirt around the chainlink fence at Prospect and Esmeralda, and the caution tape and barricades at Winfield and the Esmeralda Slide Park Plaza.
Some answers to why all this mess is occurring and when will it end:
The Plaza’s concrete was demolished in May to make way for new irrigation pipes installed to provide water for the entire Park and Plaza planter box. This is a big deal, and it took five years for the City to finally take care of this. For those who think this isn’t worth the mess the City has made of the Esmeralda plaza, try lugging a 100′ hose to water each of the plants in the Park. That’s how a couple of us have been watering the Park for the past five years. As for watering the new plants in the Plaza planter box volunteers put in last August, a couple of neighbors have been graciously drawing from their own water and dragging hoses into the box.
It took the City months to get a new water meter from PUC. Turns out, the City can’t get other agencies to move faster than us mere citizens. Meanwhile, WebCor, a private construction company that does lots of work in San Francisco, is doing all the concrete work for free. That’s great, but you know know how free goes: WebCor does the work in between their “real jobs” with the upshot, it takes longer.
After 6 weeks of torn up concrete, the irrigation pipes are now under the newly poured Plaza. Hopefully, in another month, our picnic table and benches will be re-installed. A new retrofitted slide approach platform (with a railing) will be installed, making it possible for people in wheelchairs to pull themselves onto the slide and go down (though they’ll still need assistance exiting the slide).
Speaking of wheelchair access to the Plaza; Once the City starts tearing up old public sidewalks, they need to come into this decade by meeting American Disabilities Act (ADA) Requirements. Even though the Esmeralda Slide Park Plaza is at the apex of a steep hill with narrow sidewalks, two new curb cuts leading into our Plaza will make it possible for a people with wheelchairs or strollers to wheel into the Plaza easily.
The mounds of dirt that seem to grow every day at the base of the slide are there because of the trenches being dug for the irrigation pipes coming down the hillside to deliver the water from our new water meter. The trench on the hillside between the staircase and the slide will get covered with lots of fresh dirt in planting boxes, which we hope many gardener wannabes will volunteer to help plant and weed when the time comes. Meanwhile, in the past we never planted along the hillside because our hose didn’t reach for watering, and we didn’t create terracing to hold soil for plants we couldn’t afford. Now, between the City and WebCor, they’re going to make and install the terraces after the City completes the installation of the water pipes. We’re hoping they’ll complete this work in the next couple of months, although the City hasn’t confirmed their timeline.
Lastly, the wretched slide landing pad will be replaced. Concrete will be poured by WebCor to accommodate a brand-new, softer pad that’s wider and curved for those who live dangerously and travel fast down the slide. Once again, the City hasn’t provided a timeline for this, but we’re hoping in the next couple of months.
Thanks to everyone for their patience, and please enjoy the access we once again have to our stairs. Be safe navigating the trenches in the slide landing area, and we’ll have more progress updates soon!
PHOTOS: Courtesy of Neighbors Joan and Nancy