The Noe Valley Town Square is to be built on the lot purchased by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors after a unanimous vote to turn the property at 3861 24th street into a public park.
City officials were able to purchase the lot for $4.2 million in order to save the Noe Valley Farmers’ Market and give the farmers a permanent space to provide organic food to the community, according to Todd David, president for the residents of Noe Valley.
Vladamir Caudillo of El Buen Comer Mexican food stand at the farmers’ market said, “For a while they were telling us we might not be able to sell anymore.”
Paul Mwas of Field of Greens aka Specialty Produce, said about the potential closure, “I didn’t like it at all, I was mad.”
According to Leslie Crawford, president of the Noe Valley Farmers’ Market developers were interested in purchasing the lot in order to build condominiums.
There was an overwhelming joy that lifted the sprits of the merchants and community members when the buyout was approved by the SFBOS. Crawford said, “We all kind of cried, it felt like a miracle.”
Todd David, president of the residents of Noe Valley said, “It was really exciting, people said it wouldn’t happen.”
According to David, “Merchants were totally psyched with a permanent place to have the farmers’ market.”
Although the lot has been paid for, the residents still have to raise $1 million towards the improvement and building of the town square, according to David. Purely based on donations, the town square project has currently raised $575,000.
Some of the biggest donations come from the Panzer family, who together with Real Management Company were able to donate $24,000. Patxi’s Pizza Co-founders Bill Freeman and Patxi Azpiroz were also amongst the biggest donators to date, who donated $24,000.
Donations big and small can be pledged directly through the Noe Valley Town Square webpage, or at the stand at the Noe Valley Famers’ Market. As part of the town square’s design, David says they plan to create a wall of heroes with the names of those who have donated, in alphabetical order.
Kate Sherwood and Leslie Crawford, members of the board, have applied for a $700,000 state grant, in order to be one step closer to their goal.
The State Grant for Urban Greening helps cities become more attractive to families by supporting the greening of urban areas, according to Crawford.
David, who was in charge of overseeing the budget in regards to the grant, feels fairly positive and is just waiting to hear the results. He says the state runs on their own time and even though the grant usually follows a three year cycle, it will be longer this time around.
Crawford said a lot of people worked hard on the grant and the application process took about a year and a half. Although they don’t know any of the competition and don’t have much experience in this field, they have hope and are expecting to get an answer in the spring.
According to David, the entire completion of the project is 100% dependent on the results of the state grant. He says the team plans to apply to more grants in order to raise the rest of the money, selling bricks or benches will be the last resort.
David and the board hope to create a gathering space with magical components that will in turn bring together different generations of people with a variety of socio economic statuses and ages.
He said the goals for the town square are only limited to the imagination. Friends of Noe Valley hosted the first event in the Town Square, Music in the Square. David hopes to see movie nights in the summer, Tai Chi in the mornings and a community garden. Crawford hopes the town square will give people a place to hang out instead of sitting at home on their computers.
Saturday, the Noe Valley Farmer’s Market celebrated their 10th birthday at the town square.
The district’s Former Supervisor Bevan Dufty was there to present the market with a Certificate of Honor on behalf of Mayor Edwin Lee. Dufty was one of the key players in getting permits for the market when it first began. He said about the neighborhood, “I love Noe Valley and I love the values of this community.”
Mwas, whose vegetable stand has been with the market since day one, said about the event, “I’m excited and looking forward to the 100th anniversary.” He enjoys working at this particular market because of the vibe of the small community as well as its safety factor.
The design and the plans for the town square were created by Chris Guillard of Conger Moss Guillard landscape architecture. Although the plans have yet to be approved by the Recreation and Park commission, they have been working with the design team every step of the way; therefore David doesn’t foresee any major problems.
The team’s plans have been made visible of the town square website for over a year were residents can make comments and voice their own opinions.
The environmentally friendly design includes a rain garden, LED lights and low pollen shade trees. The town square is also working to be kid friendly by providing two play areas for children of different ages as well as a climbing wall. Some community features include a “great tree,” bulletin board and stage. Basic features include a restroom, storage and plenty of seating.
The Noe Valley Town Square is currently trying to put together a development team and anyone who would like to participate can get in contact with David.
David looks forward to being able to say, “Hey! Let’s meet at the town square.”