Alta Plaza Park reopens after yearlong irrigation makeover

New circular benches in Alta Plaza Park, with the names of donors engraved into the pavement. | Photos: SF Rec and Park/Twitter

Pacific Heights' Alta Plaza Park is back in full operation this week, after its northern portion was fenced off for nearly a year to install new irrigation and water-management systems, as well as a few cosmetic improvements.

On Sunday, city officials -- including District 2 Supervisor Catherine Stefani --visited the hillside park to reopen its northern stretch, which adjoins Jackson Street between Steiner and Scott streets.

Known for its panoramic city views, Alta Plaza offers a children's playground, basketball and tennis courts, and an off-leash dog area in its southeast corner.

But the park, which first opened in 1888, also boasted some of the highest water losses of any in the city, due to its antiquated irrigation infrastructure. Runoff from the steep hillsides often ended up pouring onto Jackson and Clay streets, creating slimy puddles that were hazardous to pedestrians.

The southern half of the park had its irrigation system replaced in 2013, and this new update now extends the fix to the northern half.

According to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, the drainage makeover will reduce the park's annual water usage by 2.5 million gallons--a 39 percent cut.
Festivities at the park's Sunday reopening event.

In addition to the drainage updates, the Chronicle reports that the construction has added a new accessible entrance at Washington and Scott streets, rehabbed lawns, and a new main gateway at Pierce and Jackson streets, though the last of those has yet to be completed.

Circular community benches have also been added, with panoramic views. The names of donors who helped support the park's makeover can be read in the circles on the ground.
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