Supervisor's Report

Francisco Reservoir: A neighborhood dream becomes reality

Earlier this year I wrote about a vision for the Francisco Reservoir on Russian Hill that has been in the works for almost 60 years. Since coming into office nearly four years ago, this project has been one of my main priorities, and I have been working closely with the surrounding neighborhood groups on Russian Hill, North Beach and Aquatic Park, as well as a number of citywide open space advocates, to aggressively move this project forward. I am a firm believer that access to open space is essential to our quality of life in San Francisco, and I will always be a strong advocate for additional open space across every neighborhood in our city.

After multiple hearings at City Hall, the approval of three separate commissions and finally the Board of Supervisors in late July, I am proud to announce that our dream is going to become reality: Over the next few years, we are going to turn the old Francisco Reservoir property into a brand-new 4.5-acre park.

Currently, the Francisco Reservoir is the large block of concrete and chain-link fence bounded by Bay Street to the north, Hyde Street to the east, Chestnut Street to the south, and Larkin Street to the west, square in the middle of Russian Hill. Originally a reservoir owned and operated by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, the Francisco Reservoir has been out of service for more than 60 years and has remained an eyesore for the neighborhood and entire city ever since.

From the beginning, I have viewed this project as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I am proud to have worked so closely with these amazing neighborhood organizations and a number of key individuals who drove the project forward in the community. I still have vivid memories growing up playing with my friends near the Francisco Reservoir, and to think that future generations will be able to enjoy what will become one of San Francisco’s largest parks, instead of concrete and chain-linked fence, is inspiring.

Under the terms of the approved agreement, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department will purchase the land for approximately $9.9 million, with a payment term stretching over 12 years. These structured payment terms will ensure that the Open Space Acquisition Fund, which is being used to purchase the property, will remain structurally sound, and it will allow flexibility for more than $38 million in additional acquisitions across every other corner of San Francisco over the life of the fund.

We all owe a debt of gratitude to the four surrounding neighborhood associations that partnered together to form the Francisco Park Working Group, which was the lead neighborhood organization that coordinated all community efforts. The working group was made up of members from the Russian Hill Improvement Association, Aquatic Park Neighbors, North Beach Neighbors, and Russian Hill Neighbors. These neighborhood groups stepped up and committed to raise the funds to not only build the new park, but also endow its future maintenance. To date, the working group has raised more than $9 million and continues to aggressively raise additional capital to complete the grand vision of a park that will be an asset not only for the neighborhood, but the entire city.

During the last six months, together we built a broad base of community support of more than 40 San Francisco organizations that ultimately became involved with this effort, from the local neighborhood groups to organizations such as the Sierra Club.

The Francisco Reservoir project is a rare opportunity to create recreational space out of concrete, a park out of a dilapidated reservoir, and improve the open space balance and quality of life for all San Franciscans. The resulting park will be one of the largest pieces of open space in the area and will serve communities in the surrounding neighborhoods and across our city. Though the landscape of San Francisco may change over time, the advancement of this project ensures Francisco Reservoir site will remain open space for generations.

Because the Francisco Res-ervoir project has been a principal area of focus during my first term, I wanted to ensure that everyone in the neighborhood knew about our progress, and invite everyone to stay involved as the ultimate designs are contemplated. In early 2015, we will begin to engage in a community-driven visioning process for the final design of the new park.

It has been an incredible experience working with our local neighborhood organizations and amazing park advocates, and the result is something I believe our neighborhood and the entire city can be proud of.

To learn more about the Francisco Reservoir project, including upcoming community meetings, visit franciscoreservoir.org, or subscribe to Farrell’s monthly newsletter at markfarrell.com, or follow him on Twitter @markfarrellsf. Call his office with questions at 415-554-7752 or e-mail him directly at
mark.farrell@sfgov.org.

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