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Community News

La Colina Park Community Meeting -- February 24, 1999

San Jose City Councilmember Charlotte Powers and San Jose Parks, Recreation & Neighborhood Services hosted a community meeting at Blossom Valley Elementary School to discuss future park renovations at La Colina Park. Approximately 80 to 85 neighbors attended the meeting to share their concerns for the park and their neighborhood and to help prioritize the features they would like to see in the park.

Jim Norman, Parks Division Deputy Director, started the meeting close to 7:00 and went over the meeting agenda. Mr. Norman stated that the La Colina Park renovation budget has almost $600,000 of which about $400,000 is to be used in the construction budget. He asked by a show of hands how many in the audience lived across the street from the park and about 40% lived across the street. About 95% live within 5 blocks of the park. About 90% in the audience actually use the park. Also, about 67% in the audience had kids who use the park. He stated that the community gardens is part of the park plan. He also said that their will be a follow-up meeting after landscape architects respond to feedback from this meeting.

The original master plan working source document was created in 1981. The reason for the meeting tonight was because the last master plan document was from 1981. Five people in the audience said they were at the meetings that were used to create the 1981 master plan. Arlene Nakagawara, Project Manager Department of Public Works, reviewed the existing master plan. It was created based on community meetings held in November and December of 1980. The master plan included an open turf area for baseball and soccer, two basketball courts, a play area, restroom, parking lot, group picnic area and a jogging trail. The area was to be safe, visible and natural.

A neighbor from the audience made a passionate plea to keep the fence up around the park. It was put in to keep the motorcycles and cars from entering the park. Mr. Norman responded that as of now the fence is not in the plans to be removed. Some people from the audience suggested a prettier fence or bushes to disguise the fence.

Jim Stickley from the architectural firm of Wallace, Roberts and Todd showed their current conceptional drawings. He observed that the ball fields get a lot of use. He planned on heavy use and maybe increased capacity. He was interrupted by a neighbor who suggested the fields were at capacity already. Mr. Stickley said the tot lot is worn out and should be replaced with something new. He also saw a need for shade in the tot lot and additional picnic areas. He also noted that the service vehicles drive one wheel on the path and one off of path, which has formed a rut off of the path which caused muddy areas and drainage problems. He noticed standing water near a light post near path to the Los Pinos entrance. He also mentioned a need for a trash enclosure for the maintenance folks.

Neighbors brought up some additional observations including a drainage problem in the community garden. Also the tractor that plows the field in the park drives across the path has caused several cracks in the concrete.

Neighbors were concerned with the change of having a trash enclosure instead of handling the trash as always. Mr. Norman explained that 115 of the 140 parks have their trashed picked up by a commercial garbage company. Currently, La Colina Park has its trash picked up by park maintenance workers on Monday and then hauled to the parks central maintenance yard. The current method costs more money than having a commercial company haul out the garbage from the park. Mr. Norman explained that the parks department will empty individual containers and put in dumpster. The community was concerned that the weekend sports use garbage would be in the park longer since the commercial garbage company that hauls garbage in our neighborhood doesn't pick up until Thursdays.

Other neighbors wondered if the new park renovations will draw people to the park. Mr. Norman responded that the parks department is not trying to draw more people to the park. It is designed for the immediate neighborhood. It is also designed to draw elementary age kids to the park sports programs in the South Side Community Center area.

Jim Stickley continued with his presentation. He said the current entrances to the park are not ADA ok. Currently, they are designed to prevent motorcycles from entering the park, but will need to be rethought to allow for wheelchair access. He showed their conceptual drawings for one nice basketball court, a restroom and storage facility for the sports programs. He said currently the park brings in portable toilets for the weekend sports and then they are removed at the beginning of the week. He also showed where conceptually a 40 car parking lot could be. They changed the location of the proposed parking lot. He showed where the youth play area could be, which would be attached to the tot play area. He would flank picnic areas around the play areas. The restrooms would be in the center of the park behind the ball field since it naturally slopes. He showed another picnic area near the ridge. He showed the new place for the parking lot near Ansdell. The audience emphatically said "No Way!" The basketball court would also be on the other side near Ansdell. The trash enclosure would be near the corner of the community garden. The play area would be shaded by a trellis where vines could grow. He also showed some conceptual entrances to give them more identity.

People from the audience asked if the lights could be turned on at night and in the morning. Someone also asked if the neighborhood could have the maintenance agreement in writing. I believe Mr. Norman answered yes to both of those questions.

Mr. Norman then asked three questions and passed out yellow post-it notes and pens to everyone in the audience. Everyone was asked to answer the questions and then post them on big boards in front of the audience. This information would then be collated and used to determine a consensus of what items need to be addressed for the next rendition of the park plan. He gave everyone five minutes to answer each of the questions. The three questions were:

The parks department mailed out to everyone who asked to be on the mailing list a letter addressing the results of the February 24th meeting. If you would like to see the cover letter and the La Colina Park community feedback results, they are now available for download.

Finally, to wrap up the meeting, there was a short open question and answer session.

Question - Who would maintain the bathrooms on daily basis?

Answer from Mr. Norman - The maintenance is contracted out. The bathrooms would be cleaned every night and opened in the morning.

Question - How will homeless and drug addicts be kept out of the park with restrooms?

Answer - The police department would love to hear from the neighborhood.

Question - How often does graffiti get cleaned up in the bathrooms or other places in the park?

Answer by Mr. Norman - By contract, the graffiti in the bathroom will be painted out every night. Outside of the bathroom once a week. The playgrounds and sidewalks get cleaned when the parks department can get around to it. If it is sexually explicit or racial in nature, it is a much higher priority. He also mentioned the Adopt-A-Park program.

Question - How about a community watch for the park?

Answer by Mr. Norman - Great idea! The police department can give a talk on it right away.

Question - Can the trees be totally cleared going up the trunk so the park can be viewed unobstructed? Can the lighting be increased so we can see who is in the park?

Answer - Yes.

Question - Can you tell us how what is in the current master plan and what has been discussed will be done?

Answer by Mr. Norman - His staff will take all of the post-it notes and comments from the audience from this meeting and said strong trends will come out from the notes. The architects will draw a new rendering for the next meeting.

Question - Can you present costs of items that are getting strong consideration by neighbors?

Answer - Yes.

Question - How long will park be closed?

Answer by Mr. Norman and Ms. Nakagawara - Sometimes about six months, but not necessarily all in one area. However, about 90 days for the tot lot. There will be at least one or two more meetings before the construction contract would be awarded in August.

Question - Can we get shaded picnic areas? I have been waiting for 30 years for shaded picnic areas.

Question - Will money allocated for project disappear?

Answer from Mr. Norman - No. It will not. There are two projects worth of money in this park.

Answer from Ms. Powers - No! Over my dead body! Absolutely not. If this were general fund money that would be true, but not for capital money. She has 1 1/2 years left to serve in office and she wants this park completed before she leaves office.

Question - Can we get the park renovations expedited?

Answer from Mr. Norman - No. The design process will take 60 days and then the bid process is another 60 days. Thus, the construction job will be awarded in August. Someone from the audience said the school was going to redo their field this summer and if park construction was going on at the same time, all the fields would be out of play for the kids in the summer. Therefore, the parks department would coordinate with the school and probably could slow the park improvement start time down instead of speed it up.
Ms.Powers added that the money is finally here for the park. It comes from the conveyance tax which is from resale of homes in our area. Usually the district where the tax money was derived gets the money put back in their district. There was less money in the late 80's and early 90's due to the nature of real estate sales in that time period. She wants the planning process for the park to be done no later than May.

Mr. Norman responded that as soon as design has information it could do the new renderings in about two weeks. We could have a meeting in as soon as three weeks. Since three weeks from tonight would be the night before the big Lucky's meeting, it was decided to do the next La Colina Park meeting the following week. The next La Colina meeting would be Wednesday, March 24th.

The last comment from the audience was that the goals for the park originally were for use by all age groups, but it doesn't seem to be that way now.

Question - Also, how did new parks get developed before our plan was implemented?

Answer from Ms. Powers - There have been six new housing projects which paid for the six new park projects.

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