The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department broke ground today on Noe Valley Town Square, a recently acquired former parking lot on the 24th Street commercial corridor. The proposal to establish a public open space at the site has 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 $2.4 million of the City’s Open Space Acquisition Fund that led to the purchase of the Town Square by SF Rec & Park.
The capital project is funded primarily 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 acquisition and development of public outdoor recreation areas and facilities. The LWCF is administered nationally by the National Park Service and locally by the California Department of Parks and Recreation (CDPR). Last month, the United States Congress reauthorized the LWCF for another three years after letting the funding expire in September for the first time in its 50-year history.
“The Noe Valley Town Square project is an excellent showcase of how the government can help rehab underutilized lots and turn them into beautiful parks,” said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. “This project demonstrates how important a fully-funded LWCF is for our local communities, and I am proud that San Francisco is benefitting from this initiative.”
The project includes the removal of the existing asphalt parking lot and construction of an open, flexible plaza that would accommodate the ongoing operation of the weekly Noe Valley 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. 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.
“I’m looking forward to the construction phase of Noe Valley Town Square and celebrating the opening of this new public space at the end of 2016,” said District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener. “This is an example of how the community and the government can work together to create more open space. The town square will be transformational for Noe Valley – a permanent space for the community to relax, gather, and build community.”
In addition to City and Federal funds, over $565,000 came from the Urban Greening Grant under California Proposition 84.
“Projects like the Noe Valley Town Square, which benefit from state and federal funding, support communities, enhance quality of life in neighborhoods and bring families together,” said state Senator Mark Leno, D-San Francisco. “The leaders of this collaborative effort are to be applauded.”
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 Proposition C: the Open Space Fund, SF Rec & Park has added new park land 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.
“This new park nearly became condos, and as San Francisco grows, it’s important to remember how essential green and open spaces are to everyone in our community,” said Phil Ginsburg, SF Rec & Park General Manager. “Noe Valley Town Square is a victory for the neighborhood and the city at-large.”
In addition to fundraising, RNVTS also conducted extensive community outreach to gather input on the park design and amenities. The groundbreaking marks the beginning of a 10-month site closure. During that time, the Noe Valley Farmers Market will be relocated to 24th street where it will continue to operate on Saturdays from 8 am to 1 pm.
“I’m thrilled that we are finally breaking ground and providing a new home for the Noe Valley Farmers’ Market that has been here since 2003,” said Todd David, President of the Residents for Noe Valley Town Square. “I want to commend the leadership of Scott Wiener as well as over 525 residents and local businesses who donated to the cause. The community is eager to see the new town square become a reality.”
“Residents for Noe Valley Town Square have done an incredible job rallying broad support and resources for this project. The Parks Alliance is proud to have assisted them in this expansion of open space for San Francisco,” said Steve Schweigerdt, Director of Stewardship for the San Francisco Parks Alliance.
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. The weekly market will continue throughout construction. The organizers have secured a permit to stage the market on 24th Street in the block in front of the site.