Walking up to the Raymond Kimbell Playground the smell of grass is in the air, the distinct clang of a baseball crashing into a metal bat and the laughter of children as they play on the swings can be heard, and the warm glow of the autumn sun on the flowers catches the eye.

However, these used to be rare experiences before the Kimbell playground and park underwent a substantial remodeling.

The playground, located in the heart of the Western Addition just off of Geary Boulevard, had a complete overhaul after voters allowed $3.3 million toward its renovation in 2008, according to sfrecpark.org.

Completed just over three months ago, the newly renovated park offers new play areas, attractive landscaping, and a better, safer infrastructure.

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“It used to be just a dirt field,” said Reneé Strong, who works at the Hamilton Recreation Center across the street from the playground. “They just redid the playground and people in the community helped plan it.”

Since its reopening, the park has seen a great deal of use, and based on the reactions of many park goers and residents, it has made the neighborhood a safer and more enjoyable place to live.

“It’s a place for children to get out into the open air, and the city doesn’t have enough of that,” said Otto Darfarr, who was spending the afternoon playing with his child in the new playground facilities. “It’s important for the kids to be social with other kids, and this park provides that.”

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The park itself has a very modern look to it. The play structures are ergonomic and sturdy, the grass area is well kept, and the adjacent sports field is spacious and can accommodate various types of activities such as baseball, soccer and even cricket.

“I like the variety of play structures,” said Monica Ademino, a resident of the neighborhood who was visiting the park for the first time with her daughter. “It seems like it has stuff for kids of all different ages,” said Ademino.

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The park provides the neighborhood with a more contemporary community gathering spot where people can experience the beauty of the outdoors, even though it is located within the urban sprawl of the Western Addition.

It is now a place where anyone can come to spend a relaxing day soaking up sun on the grass, participating in exciting recreational activities or playing with their kids in a safe and clean environment.

With these new renovations, Kimbell Playground can continue to provide these services to the neighborhood for the foreseeable future.

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