Niven Park Improvement Project


Playground Locations A vs Hybrid B/C (click for enlarged image)

Niven Park Playground locations and dimensions

Powerpoint Presentation to City Council (11-15-2023)

Staff Report, Attachments 1 and 2 to City Council 11-15-2023

Attachment 3 to Staff Report to City Council 11-15-2023  (full public feedback from October meeting)

Attachment 4 to Staff Report to City Council 11-15-2023 (playground location options & distances from residences and adjacent roads) 

Attachment 5 to Staff Report to City Council 11-15-2023 (DRAFT playground concept sketch in Location B/C)


Based on community feedback and construction impact considerations, the City is considering building the new expanded playground closer to the park entrance at Barry Way & Drakes Landing Road. The community is invited attend a community workshop to provide their feedback on the alternate locations being considered. 

The Workshop will precede the Parks & Recreation Commission (PRC) meeting so give the community time to view exhibits and get more information.  Public comments will be heard at the workshop. 

  • Date: Thursday, October 19, 2023
  • Community Workshop Time: 5:00 – 6:00 PM (see note below)
  • Park & Recreation Commission Meeting Time: 6:30 PM
  • Where: Larkspur City Hall, 400 Magnolia Avenue, 2nd floor

City staff will update the PRC board on the project at its regularly scheduled PRC monthly meeting.  The PRC will not be taking any action regarding the location issue as this project has already been approved by the Larkspur City Council.  

Feedback received from the public workshop and the PRC meeting will be presented by staff to City Council at a subsequent City Council meeting (anticipated to be November 15, 2023) where staff will request Council award the construction contract and approve the playground location. 

Niven Playground site map for webpage.jpg

Exciting changes are in store for the Niven Park playground!  The outdated structure will be removed and in its place will be lots of new play equipment, beautiful landscaping and hardscaping, art sculptures, a family picnic area and more!

An overview of the proposed playground improvements was presented to the Larkspur City Council at the November 2, 2022 meeting.  At this regularly scheduled and noticed meeting, presentations were made by staff and the private Greenbrae family who so generously donated funding for the playground project. The Council unanimously approved the project plans and authorized staff to advertise the project for contractor bid solicitation.  

For more information about the project, the following links to all the presentation material from the Nov 2nd meeting. 

Pebble Harp Musical Sculpture

children sitting and dropping pebble metal sculpture to create musical notes

"Forest Hut" play structure


Whimsical pathway markings

concrete marked with words for children
Niven Playground prelim design

This significant influx of funds from the private donation greatly expanded the budget, making it possible for the playground area to be expanded, adding several new pieces of play equipment; a cozy family picnic area; a short perimeter safety fence; and lots unique landscaping, pathways, shade trees and visual elements.  The theme is nature-based and discovery-zoned, with a mindfulness toward universal accessibility.

Interesting side note -- the stunning centerpiece of the playground will be the "Forest Hut" by Earthscape. Stately standing at 21-feet, its slender, slatted design is willowy and whimsical.  You can see a smaller version of this structure at the new Presidio Tunnel Tops park in San Francisco.


The picnic area across from the fire station on Drakes Landing Road has a whole new look with:

  • new tables, benches, bike racks and trash & recycle bins
  • concrete paving has replaced the the grass & dirt;
  • thirteen new shade trees have been planted (scarlet oaks, Chinese elms and crepe myrtles). The three trees inside the new paved area are protected with tree grates not only for safety but for added style;
  • a new drinking fountain which includes a doggie bowl and a water bottle filler.
AFTER Picnic Area
Niven tree grate-sm


The new park entrance sign for Niven Park has been installed!  The design is consistent with our newly adopted standard for all park entrance signs.  So far, new signs have been installed at Niven, Hamilton, Dolliver, Neighborhood, and Bon Air Landing Parks, welcoming visitors to our City's park system.  In 2024, the existing signs at Piper, Heatherwood, Greenbrae School, Centennial, and Remillard Parks will all have new entrance signs. 


Niven Park entrance sign


Niven Park OLD entrance sign


The landscaping of the park entrance planting area at Barry Way & Drakes Landing Road has been completed.  The plant selections are drought tolerant, California-native species.  They are colorful and pollinator-friendly!  By next year, they will be close to fully mature and will beautifully welcome park users for years to come.

Completed Niven Park Planter Area

Niven Planting Area B

Planting List

Wondering what plants are here?  Here is the full planting plan.

montage of plants in planting area


Based on community input from the public survey conducted in August 2021, the areas of Niven Park that will be upgraded are:

  • Landscaping area at the park entrance 
  • Picnic area on Drakes Landing Road
  • Playground - new equipment and small enlargement
  • Park-wide upgrades to lighting, benches, and drinking fountains


This project will use funding from: 

  • County of Marin Park's Measure A program
  • Donation by private citizen (anonymous)
  • Donation by the Larkspur Community Foundation
  • State of California CalRecycle program
Project Zones


Improvements for Niven Park were identified in the 2015 Mini-Parks Action Plan.  Area of improvements included mandatory accessibility and safety code compliance upgrades needed as well as discretionary aesthetic and usability improvements.

In February 2020, City staff conducted two community meetings, inviting residents from the neighborhood adjacent to Niven Park as well as members of the general public. 

Approximately 60 people attended the meetings. City staff encouraged a two-way discussion to solicit community feedback about what upgrades were and weren't desired at Niven Park. 

The feedback from these in-person meetings formed the basis of a follow-up online survey, the results of which was used to develop the Preliminary Concept Design.

Park overview small

Public Outreach - Round 1

Two community meetings were held in February 2020 as information gathering sessions.  Concepts and ideas were presented by City staff, then the public was given an opportunity to comment and provide feedback. In attendance were:

  • Residents from Cape Marin and Drakes Landing Circle invited via email and by postcards sent by USPS. 
  • Park users invited by noticing posted throughout the park.
  • General public by notices posted at the three designated City community boards.
Niven Park Project - invite to community meeting

Public Outreach - Round 2 

Based on the feedback from the community meetings held in February, City staff created an on-line survey and invitations to participate were sent to the same list from the first round of public outreach during April thru June 2020. 

Staff posed a series of various park upgrade scenarios and asked survey takers to rank their desire to see these improvements made.  The results were then used to develop a preliminary scope of work and design concept.

invite-survey-zone B FRONT


Questions? More info? Please contact the project manager, Rita Schoch, Larkspur Public Works, 415-927-5784,