March 2011 Newsletter

Greetings, Friend of Noe Valley Rec Center,

March over to the Upper Noe Rec Center for spring classesstarry nights and community events. This month we say good-bye to outgoing Friends’ chairwoman Alexandra Torre and ask for your feedback on the evolving design of our website.


Old Friends and New

Nearly ten years after she created Friends of Noe Valley Rec Center to channel the energy of local parents who wanted to see an improved neighborhood center, Alexandra Torre has stepped out of her leadership role.

Torre will be replaced by Molly Sterkel and Kate Haug, but her legacy will linger. Friends fostered communication between rec center staff and the surrounding community and sought to make the 2.5-acre site more than just a playground. They surveyed neighbors to see what recreation programs the community hoped to see at the site; They kept neighbors abreast of progress on the $11 million renovation that brought the fifties-era indoor facility up to code.

During the two years the center was closed, Torre and Friends raised $70,000. The commemorative tiles that now ring the children’s playground honor the many neighbors who pitched in. The largest donors are acknowledged on plaques affixed to the center’s wooden benches. There were also events, including an evening fundraiser at “the Google House”—the three-story terraced home jutting from the hillside of Duncan Street owned by Google millionaire Frank Jernigan.

“It brought together a larger crowd than just families,” says Torre, something that was important to her.

“It’s more than just a kid’s park,” she says. “We needed to consider that other audience.”

The center’s unique interior space—it boasts a stage, a kitchen and a large auditorium—is flexible and can be used for community group meetings, adult classes and parties as well as child-centered activities.

When the center’s doors re-opened in 2008, the $70,000 paid for audio-visual equipment, speakers, kitchen equipment and new toys to outfit the site.

Thanks for all your work, Alexandra!

NPS synopsis

Did you know Rec and Park underwent a massive restructuring last year? More than half of the respondents to the Neighborhood Parks Council 2010 Park User Survey did not, highlighting one of the biggest problems for the department: inadequate and ineffective communication.

That finding surprised the department but not Meredith Thomas, executive director of the NPC.

“We felt the [Rec and Park] Commission and the department weren’t getting access to people outside of hearings and meetings,” she said. The NPC sought to close that communication gap.

“The department has not been doing enough to post information in the facilities,” Thomas said. The report also recommended the department reach out through organizations like Friends of Upper Noe Rec.

The department’s budgeting strategy also came under criticism. Rec and Park needs to have a clear sense of operating costs—staff, facilities budget, oversight—for each recreation center and for the larger parks, Thomas said.

“They need to understand where income is generated and understand expenses so when you tell people you’re closing clubhouses there’s an explanation that’s specific,” she says. The department also needs to do a better job of showing the affect of its controversial revenue generation and cost recovery programs, according to the report. Rec and Park General Manager Phil Ginsburg has created a stir by charging out-of-towners to visit Golden Gate Park’s Botanical Gardens, for example. According to budget meetings hosted earlier this year, that revenue allowed the department to avoid any cuts to recreation center hours.

But not many people know that, which goes back to that pesky communication gap….

See the results of the survey here.

Community Recreation Councils

Help shape the programming offered at Upper Noe Rec by joining the facility’s Community Resource Council. Created in last year’s massive departmental reorganization, councils specific to each rec center are meant to determine what the surrounding community would like to see in terms of programs and improvements.

Facility director Joe Scott has four applications and needs three more, including one person under 18. Please email him or call the center at 970-8061 to get an application. Terms last two years, and the council will meet once a quarter, hopefully starting in April or May, Scott says.

Website changes

We are updating our website. Suggestions for design and content welcome. Please email our Web Team.

Sandbox Update

We are still piecing together comments and hope to have a report in April. You can still email comments to Kate Haug.

Community Events

Registration for spring classes begins March 5

See listings at  SF Rec Online.To search for our center’s programs, click on Programs tab, then click on “Click HERE TO SEARCH BY FACILITY OR ADVANCED SEARCH” and choose “Upper Noe Recreation Center.”

You can register for classes at SF Rec Online, but you must have a “family account” to do so. Click here to create a family account.

You can also register in person at Upper Noe Recreation Center or at Rec and Park Headquarters in Golden Gate Park: McLaren Lodge, 501 Stanyan Street (at Fell).

In person registration times will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the first day of registration. Neighborhood registration sites are then open Tuesdays through Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Park headquarters registration hours are then Mondays through Fridays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
are available to eligible San Francisco residents through the Recreation Scholarship Fund. To find out if you are eligible, please email the department at or call (415) 831-6800 during business hours.

Friends of Noe Valley Rec Center Meet March 9

Friends of NVRC
Wednesday, March 9
7 p.m.

Topics will include: the children’s playground sandbox, upcoming renovation plans for the Sanchez street side planting and an additional bulletin board on 30th Street. Please join us for a meeting about how to maintain and improve your park. Questions? Email Kate Haug

Planetarium in the Gym March 10
Thursday, March 10
7 to 9 p.m.

The Randall Museum will bring its portable planetarium for what facility director Joe Scott hopes will be a monthly glimpse of the “skies.”

Live Music in the Auditorium (tot room) March 12
Failure to Disperse (bluegrass)
Saturday, March 12
9 to 11 a.m.

The Friends of Noe Valley Rec Center is glad to sponsor Saturday morning live music  in the Auditorium/Tiny Tot room at the Rec Center. Tot room open, too! Come by with your child, enjoy the music, and perhaps also put in a little time with the Ladybug Gardeners. (See below.)

Volunteers needed for Ladybug Gardeners March 12
Ladybug Gardeners
Saturday, March 12
9 a.m. to noon

Once again the Ladybug Gardeners, under the leadership of Joan Lionberger, will be gardening at the Rec Center.

Summer Camp Registration Begins March 19
The center will host two summer camps that start June 6 and run eight weeks from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., with extended care available from 8:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. One camp will be an athletics camp for girls only and the other will be an athletics and arts camp for both boys and girls.

are available to eligible San Francisco residents through the Recreation Scholarship Fund. To find out if you are eligible, please email the department at or call (415) 831-6800 during business hours.

Bicycle Bride Revisited?
Facility director Joe Scott says writer/director/producer Hasan Zee will host another screening of his movie, Bicycle Bride. A date had not been set by press time.

Bring an Event to the Upper Noe Rec Center

We would love to see you bring more (and interesting) events to the Rec Center. Please let us know if you are interested in offering or hosting an event—we might be able to co-sponsor it. If you want to sponsor an event with the Friends of Noe Valley Rec Center, please email Kate Haug.
The Friends group often gets questions about how groups can rent the Upper Noe Rec Center. Both the gymnasium and auditorium are available for rental.  Some groups rent the facility on a regular basis, and some groups just for one-time events. To rent the space, the SF Rec and Park Department Permits and Reservations Office has created an Indoor Facility rental page in addition to the Athletics Field Request form.

The cost of renting the Upper Noe Rec Center facilities is as follows:

  • Gymnasium: $77/hour (staffed) and $50/hour (without staff)
  • Auditorium (Auditorium/Stage/Tot Room area): $72/hour (staffed) and $45/hour (without staff)

Call for Volunteers

The Friends of Noe Valley Rec Center is looking for a few volunteers to serve our park. Please email me if you are interested in bringing events to the Center, identify issues for the newsletter, identify needs for purchasing at the park, etc.


Thanks for your interest and support of Your Park! Please contact us with any questions or suggestions. Let us know about any community events you are planning at the park so we can promote them. Please forward this newsletter to your friends and neighbors who use the Noe Valley Rec Center. We want this newsletter to help build the park community — please help us connect with members of the community.

Enjoy your Park!

Molly Sterkel
Friends of the Noe Valley Rec Center