I went to the town square meeting tonight -- sucker for punishment, I guess. Here's the scoop:We've asked CMG Landscape Architecture for renderings and more info - details when we get them.
* Meredith at the Neighborhood Parks Council starts off. The city hasn't used the open space money for decades because Parks & Rec can't maintain parks. Now they have this public-private idea in Noe but it's been so long since they acquired land they don't know how to do it right. When they started talking about this project, the neighborhoods that have been on hold for years were all 'Hey what about us, you said there was no money.' 17th & Folsom is farther along, has outside grant money, and has been in line for a while. Other projects too. So that's the hang-up. Meredith seems cool. She wants the city to be smart about things. She wants other projects to go forward and doesn't want Noe Valley to get caught in the political crossfire. So NPC is working with Parks & Rec and the Open Space Committee to "clean out cobwebs," see if policies need to be revised, and figure out which projects should go forward.
* Four designs are presented and we discuss for an hour. They're all good designs, variations on a theme: a large open flexible paved (or permeable) space; small green spaces (trees/garden/landforms) in various configurations; benches along the sides; large furniture in the middle that can be moved by the farmer's market; small play area for toddlers; good visibility and openness to the street and tree buffer against the back wall; possible sidewalk extension into the parking lane. One small bathroom (only for market and special events) and storage shed. Curb cuts for vehicle access to set up special events. Lighting and power. Three out of four designs allow the Farmer's Market to stay the same size or expand; one causes them to lose 6 tents, which is a non-starter. The architects have ignored the silly stuff from the first meeting. There will be no electronic fences or gates, and no underground parking lot, but there is still the possibility of a "flexible space where someone could bring a half pipe every weekend for Skater Sundays." Designs will be presented online so people can comment.
* Supervisor Scott Wiener is there and stays the whole meeting. Scott notes the problems at the city level -- says it will be "a heavy lift," he's "the eternal optimist" but he thinks we have a "hard road ahead" over the next "several years." Noe Valley needs to raise some serious money. Glad we spent the last hour talking about these pretty pictures!
* Todd David shows up late, wants to table all questions about fundraising until the city can figure out its process. At this point he doesn't know if we will need $300,000 to buy some benches and set up a maintenance budget, or if we need $3 million to cover construction and part of the land acquisition. They are exploring the possibility of a bundled proposal where Noe Valley might team up with other communities to put forward projects together.
* The Farmer's Market wants to know: How long can the Ministry wait for us to get our act together?
* The Ministry says: We got a loan from Circle Bank with the parking lot as collateral and we're going to start construction without waiting on all y'all. We need to see things starting to come together in the next 12 months.
* Next step: Todd, Meredith, et al., meet with the city to get a clearer picture of the process. Could take a few months. Not years. Meanwhile, the landscape architect takes in the community feedback and moves from four designs to one design so we have a better sense of the construction budget.
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