A groundbreaking event was held on Feb. 24 for the Ingleside Library Garden project, a multi-agency effort led by District 7 Supervisor Norman Yee to develop a public garden and plaza at the Ingleside Branch Library.
The garden will be developed on the courtyard behind Ingleside Library and the Public Utilities Commission-owned access road connecting Ocean Avenue to Balboa Reservoir. The project contractors are Yerba Buena Engineering & Construction Inc. and Oliver Transbay Construction.
There will be amenities for children in the completed garden. At the groundbreaking event, City Librarian Luis Herrera said, “We’re thrilled because it opens up the … learning environment inside the library [to] the outside.”
Several children in attendance at the event, sat in the sunshine where Supervisor Yee promised “before the fall, we’re gonna have another event here, and cut a ribbon, and say: ‘Come on and play.’” The garden, designed by Jasmine Kaw of San Francisco Public Works, will feature landscaping, play structures and outdoor seating.
The design currently lacks any plans for after-dark lighting. At the Dec. 2014 board meeting of the Ocean Avenue Association, board members passed a motion requesting for lighting and an artistic gate.
Members of the board said lighting is necessary, especially during fall and winter months, as the Ingleside library hours extend to 9:00 p.m. at the latest.
At the December meeting, Kaw responded to the OAA board’s comments by pointing out that the project has been reduced in scope and as a result of funding limitations, lighting was not included in the design by SFPW.
The library garden project was inherited from former District 7 Supervisor Sean Elsbernd. Originally, the concept was for a $1 million project, but that concept was denied grant funding and now the project budget is $500,000, according to Olivia Scanlon, aide to Supervisor Yee.
“We had to pull together funding” from SFPW, PUC and two cycles of add-back budgeting, according to Scanlon. “This was the only way we could get this project done in the next five months,” she added.
At the groundbreaking event, Kaw said that lighting was “a valid concern” and “is being looked at by Library Operations.” She pointed out that lighting could either be installed on the side of the library building or in the garden at ground level. The latter configuration would require a separate electrical panel to be installed at additional expense.
Two PG&E poles stand between the courtyard and the access road, stringing overhead wires to the houses behind the library and the reservoir, but accessing power from the poles is out of the question, because, Kaw said, “that’s out of the City’s jurisdiction.”
The Facilities Director of Library Operations Roberto Lombardi said “we don’t have a design for it yet, but we do have the ability to install lights on the building, there is power available.”
“We’re going to be very careful with the design because we want to make it not only beautiful but we want to be sure not to disturb our [residential] neighbors,” Lombardo said, though the purpose of the lighting will be to encourage use during dark hours and to maintain safety in the garden after dark.
Whereas Kaw cited the project budget as a roadblock to adding lighting to the design, Lombardi, when asked about how lighting would be paid for, said: “[SFPL] can take care of that. I’m confident that the cost of it is reasonable enough that we can absorb it in our regular facilities budget.”
Scanlon was less promising, saying “[Lombardi]’s going to try” to add lighting to the project, but noted that it was still something the project partners needed to look into.
Supervisor Yee, when asked about the collaborative nature of the project, said “the leadership on top, that is, Mayor Ed Lee, puts emphasis on [departments] working together.”