SAN FRANCISCO — The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department and Supervisor Scott Wiener are proud to celebrate the opening of Noe Valley Town Square, San Francisco’s newest park. In conjunction with the Residents for Noe Valley Town Square, and other State and City officials, SF Rec & Park cut a ribbon in celebration of the new parkland, and new home of the Noe Valley Farmers’ Market.
Noe Valley Town Square is a recently acquired former parking lot on the 24th Street commercial corridor. The proposal to establish a public open space at the site evolved through more than five years of collaboration between SF Rec & Park, the community group Residents for Noe Valley Town Square (RNVTS), Supervisor Scott Wiener, and the San Francisco Parks Alliance. In June 2013, Supervisor Wiener authored legislation to utilize $4.2 million of the City’s Open Space Acquisition Fund that led to the purchase of the Town Square by SF Rec & Park.
The project replaced the asphalt parking lot with a flexible, open plaza that will accommodate the weekly farmers’ market and other community events. The design also features a perimeter edge garden, children’s play area, seating and other site furnishings, landscaping, irrigation, and lighting.
The $2.8 million capital project was funded largely from a Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) grant in the amount of $740,000 as well as a City funds secured by Supervisor Wiener in the amount of $650,000. The LWCF Program, established in 1964, is a federal funding source for state and local governments for the conservation, acquisition and development of public outdoor recreation areas and facilities. The LWCF is administered nationally by the National Park Service and locally by California State Parks. In December 2015, the United States Congress reauthorized the LWCF for another three years after letting the funding expire in September 2015 for the first time in its 50-year history.
“Noe Valley Town Square demonstrates how important a permanent and fully-funded LWCF is for our local communities. I am proud that San Francisco is benefitting from this initiative,” said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. “This is an excellent example of City, State, and Federal agencies working together to rehab underutilized spaces and turn them into beautiful parks.”
Funding for this project also comes from a California Natural Resources Agency Urban Greening for Sustainable Communities Project Grant, Open Space Acquisition Funds, Supervisor Wiener and the Office of the Mayor, as well as from a gift from the Residents for Noe Valley Town Square.
“Having been involved in this project from the start, I’m thrilled to be here today to celebrate with the community,” said District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener. “This truly was a labor of love by the Noe Valley community, and I’m proud to have worked with everyone to make this park the new heart of Noe Valley and permanent home to our beloved Farmers Market.”
In addition to City and Federal funds, over $565,000 came from the Urban Greening Grant under California Proposition 84.
“I’m pleased that through Prop. 84, the State can provide funds for important and exciting projects like the Noe Valley Town Square,” said state Senator Mark Leno, D-San Francisco. “As this project will enhance the quality of life in our neighborhood and bring families together, I thank all those who helped make it happen.”
In order to meet the growing need for open space in San Francisco, SF Rec & Park continues to acquire new parks. With the help of the voter-approved Open Space Fund, SF Rec & Park has added new parkland over the past decade. SF Rec & Park has recently added 900 Innes/India Basin Shoreline Park, Francisco Reservoir, and 17th & Folsom to the City’s parkland, in addition to Noe Valley Town Square. Other future park sites in the pipeline include Schlage Lock and 11th & Natoma.
“Noe Valley Town Square nearly became condos, and as San Francisco grows, it’s important to remember how essential green and open spaces are to the health and wellness of our community,” said Phil Ginsburg, SF Rec & Park General Manager. “The new park will serve as an important hub for the neighborhood and the City at-large. I want to thank everyone who made this possible.”
In addition to fundraising, RNVTS also conducted extensive community outreach to gather input on the park design and amenities and worked with the Noe Valley Farmers’ Market to incorporate their ideas and their sense of community.
“The Noe Valley Farmers Market has created a great sense of community,” said Todd David of RNVTS. “My hope is that the Town Square will expand that sense of community from one day a week to seven days a week.”
The nonprofit San Francisco Parks Alliance served as the fiscal sponsor for Residents for Noe Valley Town Square, and assisted community members with their initial advocacy for the City to purchase the parcel.
“The Noe Valley Town Square project is a perfect example of a public-private partnership, driven by community and supported by public and private agencies,” said Rachel Norton, Interim Chief Executive Officer of the Parks Alliance. “We are thrilled to have played a part in making sure that a thriving corridor in Noe Valley has permanent open space to serve a broad range of community needs, and we congratulate the Residents for Noe Valley Town Square for their tireless work and advocacy.”
San Francisco Public Works provided construction management and oversite for the project. “It’s wonderful how the community came together to create this special place,” said Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru. “Neighbors, families and friends will enjoy this new park for generations to come.”
Rec & Park worked with the San Francisco Arts Commission to incorporate public art into the Town Square design. Selected through a competitive process, Wowhaus, a collaboration between artists Scott Constable and Ene Osteraas-Constable, created Garden Guardians, a pair of family-friendly bronze owls. Conceived as sentinels, or guardians of the park, the highly durable sculptures are sited along the pathway that winds through the green space at the back of the square. Ranging in height from 30” to 36”, the owls are meant to represent parent and child. As a symbol of wisdom, they encourage people to see through the eyes of others. The patina of the sculptures will deepen with use and wear, gaining character over time.
“We are lucky to live in a City that values and preserves its beauty by making an investment in public art as part of every new civic capital project,” said Director of Cultural Affairs Tom DeCaigny. “Wowhaus’s Garden Guardians appeals to a broad audience and adds a touch of the unexpected to this wonderful new community space.”
The site of a gas station from the 1930s to the early 1990s, the property underwent soil remediation and underground storage tank removal between 1991 and 1999. Since then the site has been used primarily for parking, and as a host space for the weekly Noe Valley Farmers’ Market.