Community groups, city staff and elected officials celebrated the opening of the final Pavement to Parks plaza this weekend, a new 7,500 square foot space that months before was a wide asphalt expanse notorious for speeding traffic and more than a few drivers doing donuts amid smoking tires and revved engines.
City Attorney Dennis Herrera hailed Naples Green, a square in the Excelsior on Naples Street between Geneva Avenue and Rolph Street, as a “testament about what happens when community and government work together.”
Herrera invoked the history of the plaza, which in 1915 was turned into a temporary park to celebrate the Pan-Pacific Exposition and herald San Francisco’s recovery from the 1906 earthquake. “This park is a testament also to what it means for San Francisco values and community history,” said Herrera. “I can’t think of anything better to commemorate what San Francisco is all about–a phoenix, a city rising and being everything that it can be–than the reestablishment of this park and bringing green space to this wonderful neighborhood.”
For years a group of merchants had been working through the Outer Mission Merchants and Residents Association (OMMRA) to improve the former slab of asphalt, first succeeding to get traffic calming and medians to slow speeds and reduce stunting, then finally convincing District 11 Supervisor John Avalos to cobble funding together through the city budget process and separate agency coffers. In all, the project cost $150,000, much of it coming from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which controls the streets and runs Muni, the San Francicco Public Utilities Commission, the Department of Public Works (SFDPW) and a $10,000 grant from the Wells Fargo Foundation.
Avalos applauded the community and OMMRA for their steadfast commitment to transforming the space, referring to the frequent donuts and reckless driving that occurred there previously. “This is a community that has seen too much grass, too much greenery, paved over, so to reverse that in such a magnificent way, in such a large way is really great to see,” he said. “We know we’re going to have more people using the space, that will be an inhibition to the kinds of activities that were going on here before.”