Noe Valley Voice December 2002 - January 2003

City Gets Ready to Overhaul Upper Noe Park

By Erin O'Briant

Working heat, wider doors, and a seismic upgrade. Those are just a few of the improvements city park officials hope to make to the Upper Noe Recreation Center during the next three years. Local residents and city planners gathered in November to begin planning for the renovation, which is funded by a 2000 ballot measure providing renovation dollars for San Francisco parks.

At a Nov. 14 meeting at Fairmount School, Keith Kawamura, Recreation and Park Department project director, explained to Noe Valley residents what must be done to bring the recreation center up to code, and asked for community input on how the park, gym, and recreation center at Day and Sanchez streets might be improved. "We need to do a seismic upgrade and an accessibility upgrade [to bring the facilities up to current] code, so there are some givens," Kawamura said.

Fixing the center's heating system is another top priority, as is adding exits to the main auditorium. The roof and electrical panels most likely will need to be replaced, and the gym's bleachers need to be made accessible to disabled people.

Kawamura said he also is hoping to upgrade the lighting in the recreation center. The city plans to completely renovate the children's play area to bring it up to current standards, and to replace the temporary chain-link fence that borders the dog run and ball field.

Marybeth Wallace, a Noe Valley resident and vice chair of the city's Park, Recreation, and Open Space Committee, says she hopes to create the legacy of a beautiful park for current and future San Franciscans. "What we saw the other night is what has to be done, meaning the things we have to do first. But [the city officials] seem to be listening, and I'm optimistic."

Other neighbors said at the meeting that they'd like to see an improved dog run and more use of the baseball area for soccer. Wallace noted that it might be hard to renovate "this dinosaur" on the $6 million allotted to the project. "We are going to have to think smart about what we want," she said.

Kawamura said he is not aware of any plans to do similar drastic renovations at other Noe Valley parks, including Douglass Park and Playground and Dolores Park. But, he noted, the city recently installed a new retaining wall at Noe Courts and is re-planting the area around it.

Community members and Kawamura are planning a second meeting for January. Ironically, the gathering cannot be held at the Upper Noe Recreation Center, because the facility does not meet accessibility standards for city-sponsored meetings. But that, Kawamura hopes, will soon change.

For information on the next public meeting to discuss the renovation of Upper Noe Recreation Center, call Keith Kawamura at 415-581-2546.