Lincoln Square Park Recreation Center Expansion in Oakland Chinatown
In the fall of 2018, the City of Oakland invited the community to submit proposals to inform their Capital Improvements Program. Our Steering Committee jumped at the chance to highlight the need and articulate our vision for the future of our recreation center. Here is our submission. This vision is not final, but the beginning of a community engagement and planning process over the coming months and years.
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The Urgent Need: The Lincoln Square Park Recreation Center (LSPRC) is 40 years old and in dire need of expansion and improvement. The current building is over capacity, as activities fill every room at nearly all hours. The restrooms are inadequate in number and deferred maintenance. Pressure for more space is mounting as new residents move into the 5,000+ new apartments in Downtown leasing over the next year. A recent architectural analysis concluded that the facility floor area needs to be doubled just to meet existing demand.
Friends of Lincoln Square Park (FOLSP) is a coalition of community leaders and volunteers including the Oakland Parks and Recreation Foundation, the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, local churches, family associations, the Wa Sung Community Service Club and other community organizations. We are working with the rec center staff and the City to advocate, plan and fund the design and construction of an expanded and modernized rec center that will be the center of Chinatown. The FOLSP vision is a new three story rec center with an indoor basketball gym, multipurpose and class rooms, space that can be indoor/outdoor, and a relocated Chinatown Hall of Pioneers as a central foyer/gathering/performance/gallery space. This new building will have the space to host multiple simultaneous activities that bring together different generations and longtime and new Oaklanders.
Why Lincoln Square Park and Recreation Center: LSPRC is the city’s busiest rec center and park, with over 1,500 unique visitors each day, all day long. It is the only public recreation center in Downtown and serves residents of all ages, incomes and races from across the city and beyond. The adjacent bus stop at Harrison and 11th is one of the busiest in the system.
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As the heart of Oakland Chinatown, the center hosts classes including tai-chi, ballroom dancing, table tennis, sword dancing, chinese orchestra, volleyball, and much more. The afterschool and summer daycare programs are always full with a waitlist. LSPRC is truly a destination for Oaklanders of all ages and backgrounds. Youth from across the city grow up here, swinging in the tot lot, chasing each other on the iconic junk boat play structure, playing basketball, soccer and volleyball, and hanging out in a safe and welcoming place. Office workers play basketball during lunch, restaurant come after their evening shifts. Hundreds of seniors of all incomes and races participate in physical and social activities that keep them active and socially engaged, preventing the debilitating isolation that so often lead to mental and physical decline. Please prioritize this equitable project which will benefit residents of the neighborhood, Downtown residents and employees, and all of Oakland.
Ceremony Remarks by Ener Chiu
By Ener Chiu
Good evening everyone, thank you to Wa Sung and Karen for organizing this ceremony. My name is Ener Chiu, and I am a founding member of the Friends of Lincoln Square Park. These are my kids, and they are the fifth generation in our family to grow up playing here at Lincoln Square Park.
These days it feels like we’re in a perpetual crisis. The country is divided, we’re putting children in cages, no one can afford to live in cities anymore, the list goes on and on. But what we can’t forget, especially in a time like this, is how important it is to play. That sounds so trivial, right?
But it’s not. Human beings were born to play. It’s how we learn social skills, spend time with our families; it’s how we learn to enjoy our neighbors, and to love our own bodies, and it’s how we build culture. Play and recreation heal us, and give us the stamina and resilience to deal with hard times
So it’s important that we support recreation, especially in urban neighborhoods like Chinatown, where open space is so precious. Lincoln Recreation Center and Lincoln Square Park is the most heavily used open space in the City of Oakland. Look around you. This is a special night, but it’s not atypical. We are so crowded here, and especially in the Rec Center.
That building is 40 years old, and it is the only public recreation center that serves all of Downtown Oakland. You see all those construction cranes around us? That’s 5,000 new apartments opening up in the next two years. Where are those new people going to play? How are they going to learn to play alongside and with the people who have been here instead of crowding us out
How many of you have been coming out to these Lincoln Summer Nights events this year? Raise your hands. These events were a labor of love organized by community members in Oakland Chinatown. The organizing and stewardship that Wa Sung has led over decades to build and maintain this amazing play structure was a labor of love. We take care of each other. And what we need from our City government is not only to come out and celebrate with us, but also to show up and fight for our neighborhood.
So Mayor Schaaf, Councilmember Guillen, Parks and Rec Director Williams, Public Works Director Mitchell: we're honored to have you here, and we’re grateful that City has restored the junk boat play structure, and gotten resources to repave the basketball courts. But what we need right now is your leadership and your commitment to help our community build a new recreation center that is twice the current size so that it has the capacity to serve the existing residents here in addition to all the new people who are moving in. In 2018, our community has privately fundraised more than $100,000 towards a new recreation center, repairing the toddler lot, and programming for this park. But that’s a drop in the bucket.
We need for our City leaders to prioritize this park. That means:
#1: Lincoln Recreation Center should be the City’s top priority for what’s left of the $30M of KK funding that is supposed to go to rec centers.
#2: The City money that was earmarked for the planning of the new rec center needs to start getting spent.
#3: The City needs to commit a significant portion of the $7M in Soda Tax revenue that is supposed to support health, wellness and recreation to Lincoln Rec Center and staffing and programming here in Chinatown.
#4: We need the City to commit its staff to working with our community to apply for public and private grant opportunities. In particular the State’s Prop 68 Park Program fund, which is going to release $255M in funding early next year. We cannot waste this opportunity.
#5: We don’t need housing developers to pay for private gardens and open space and yoga zen rooms inside their luxury buildings. We need them to instead direct that money to support the public parks and open space that we’re all going to share in together.
I hope you can commit to doing those five things tonight. We need your leadership and commitment here.
Before I go, I want to recognize a few amazing organizations who have volunteered tirelessly to put on these events all summer. I’m sorry I can’t name all the individuals, but we want to thank:
Let’s give these folks a round of applause. Lastly, I have to recognize Tommy Wong and Gilbert Gong and the staff here at Lincoln Rec Center. Without their dedication to Lincoln Park, none of this could have happened, and we have these beautiful Made in Chinatown T-shirts for them from Klein Lieu.
Rebuilding Lincoln Rec Center is going to take all of us. If we want our children to have safe places to play, if we want our seniors to not be socially isolated and immobile in their advancing age, then all of us need to support this recreation center. Sign up to get involved. You can make a tax-deductible donation today to our nonprofit fiscal sponsor, the Oakland Parks and Rec Foundation and direct it to Friends of Lincoln Square Park. Any amount helps.
Thank you all so very much!
Calling all kids!
Help us move this project forward.
We've a come a long way, but we have a lot more work to do to make our new recreation center a reality. So we're looking for the right somebody to join our cause. Specifically, we're in search of a part-time campaign coordinator to manage our new and exciting campaign to plan for a new modern recreation community center with more room to accommodate existing and future community needs.
We are currently soliciting proposals from interested consultants. The consultant will work closely with the Steering Committee to help keep the campaign on schedule and progressing with a high level of visibility and momentum that engenders a sense of excitement, optimism and confidence in achieving the campaign goal.
To apply, submit a cover letter, resume, and fee requirements to email@example.com. For more information about us, please visit FriendsofLincolnSquarePark.org.
Seniors find a second home at Chinatown Recreation Center
Muna Danish a reporter from Oakland North recently aired a radio segment on our Rec Center!