August 6, 2015

Noe Valley Town Square Meeting Update: Groundbreaking Scheduled for January 2016

Several weeks ago we got an email from the Noe Valley Town Square team announcing a meeting with supervisors Scott Wiener and Mark Farrell on July 9 with an update on the progress for the development of the Town Square site at 3861 24th Street. The original plan was to start breaking ground in August.

We asked Todd David who is on the Residents for Noe Valley Town Square Board for his recap and highlights of the event - and here’s what he told us. We’ve edited his answers only slightly for clarity:

Can you give us a short overview or summary of what was discussed in the meeting? The meeting was about 2 different issues:

      1. Park Funding in general
      2. An update on the Noe Valley Town Square

For the first part of the meeting, District 2 Supervisor Mark Farrell spoke regarding his working on a ballot measure for the June 2016 election that would designate funding for operations for Rec and Park. He spoke in general about how the City will become more dense over time and acquiring and maintaining healthy parks will be key to San Francisco being a livable City over the next 100 years.

I then spoke about the amount of fundraising that has been accomplished to date: Supervisor Scott Wiener authored legislation to purchase the land for $3.8 million from the Open Space Acquisition Fund. Also included from that fund is an additional $343,000 for remediation. We received $567,000 from the State of CA in an Urban Greening grant. We also received $744,000 from the Federal Government from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Residents For Noe Valley Town Square is contributing $450,000 in private donations to the project and finally Supervisor Wiener secured an additional $670,000 in funds during the City's budget add-back process.

I then spoke about the process of how we got to our current "working" design. I talked about the neighborhood meetings and the input from neighbors to arrive on an original 4 designs. And then the process of voting from the four designs to the current "working" design. I also explained that the design will be driven a bit by the grant funding. For instance, a large tree is shown in our working design. However, the Land and Water Conservation Grant will only pay for smaller trees, so we will have to change that in the design. (There is actually a good reason to use smaller trees. It turns out that they have a better chance of surviving when planted in a new location and the sequester more carbon monoxide from the air than larger trees!)

Chris Guillard, the Landscape Architect from CMG: Landscape Architects took additional questions regarding design.

Were there any action items that came out of the meeting? I would say the main action item that came out of the meeting is that Residents For Noe Valley Town Square needs to have a meeting with the Farmers Market and the CBD [Community Benefit District] to see if we can come to an agreement where the CBD does additional cleaning/maintenance above Rec and Parks cleaning. The thought has been that the Farmers Market used to pay rent for the space. The current permit costs are significantly lower than the previous rent. Therefore, the difference in savings could potentially pay for additional cleaning from the CBD.

Are there any surprises or challenges ? The biggest challenge/surprise that has come up is the bathroom. Rec and Park estimates that we need an additional $600,000 to $800,000 to build a bathroom. We are working with Rec and Park to see if a less expensive solution is possible.

Where will the Saturday Farmer's Market be held during the construction? This question needs to be directed to the Farmers Market Board. As far as I know, no decision has been made yet.

Any updates about timing and next steps for progress on the construction? Groundbreaking is scheduled for January 2016 and Ribbon cutting is scheduled for October 2016.

Anything else that the community should know about the project? Please send in your pledge if you have not done so already!

[Photo: Google Maps]