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San Jose City Councilmember Charlotte Powers and San Jose Parks, Recreation & Neighborhood Services hosted a follow-up community meeting at Blossom Valley Elementary School to discuss future park renovations at La Colina Park. Approximately fifty neighbors attended the meeting to share their concerns for the park and their neighborhood and to help further 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 recapped the February 24th meeting. He told everyone that the parks department has no intention of removing the fence. There is money earmarked in the construction budget for a new tot lot for preschool age children. A youth lot would be for elementary age kids. Many people said they wanted a restroom although many times restrooms are controversial. He also explained that the 1981 La Colina park master plan was revisited because the plan was so old. He also said that there was a concensus that there would be no parking lot. He also stated that landscaping, shade areas and a picnic area were other concensus items. Mr. Norman also explained that it is normal procedure to have a meeting with the neighborhood to make sure the money is spent best by park users.
Mr. Norman said that there is about $390,000 in the construction budget, but he was already bringing it down to about $300,000 since there is usually about 30% of administrative costs. He said there is money probably for six items, but they will want a list of eight or nine items in case the bids come in low and they have more money. They only have ballpark cost estimates of the construction items since it hasn't been put out to bid yet.
Mr. Norman also discussed that many people mentioned wanting a hardcourt area. He didn't specify which kind of hardcourt area, but it could be a tennis court, basketball court, or kids court fo items like tether ball. He said he did realize that the park is near a school and kids have access to tetherball there. He did say hardcourts attract rollerblading, roller hockey and skateboarding. He also said that a single tennis court is not as cost effective. He usually likes to build four tennis courts. He can build a full court basketball court or two half court basketball courts. Mr. Norman said he has other options for the hard court issue by coordinating with the school district. He can improve facilities at the schools. Mr. Norman told a story about one neighborhood park not wanting basketball courts built in their park.
Someone from the audience said they heard that there was supposed to be a pool at the park. Is that intended? Mr. Norman said no. He usually tries to contract with schools to have pools open in the summer.
Ron from the audience asked why would we want basketball courts if other parks disn't want them. Mr. Norman responded that there are different reasons. The reason the park in his story didn't want them was due to the narrow configuration of the park.
Jim Stickley showed the drawings that his company did. He showed the tot lot in the same place as the existing tot lot. It will also have perimeter shaded areas with vines. He showed the picnic areas. One would be an extension off of the tot lot. The second picnic area would be near the path on the Los Pinos side to the right of the proposed bathroom. They would repeat the look of the shaded areas over the two picnic tables. Currently the access gates to the park are too narrow and difficult to get through with strollers. The park needs nicer gates. He proposed three new gates at Los Pinos, Ansdell and Allegan Circle. These gates would discourage motorcycle access and bikes would probably need to be walked through. Wheelchairs would be able to get through since the new gates would be up to ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) standards. He showed a rendering of the gates with the La Colina name over the gateway. The gates would be made of wood. There would be a metal sign on top of the gate for the name of the park.
Since there was strong support for a restroom, Mr. Stickley showed the restroom in his park renderings in a central location which would be convenient to both sides of the park. There would be a storage room as part of the restroom building, used primarily for the bathroom maintenance supplies. He said the site was picked since it had good visibility from the gateways on all sides.
He showed where the sports court could be. In his drawing, he showed it on the other side of the walkway on Ansdell. He said it was a practical place since paths didn't need to be moved.
Someone from the audience said the park is a very private area again after the kids leave on the weekend at 3pm.
Someone else said that people thought that the youth play area was a done deal and didn't require being asked for in the post-it note phase. Therefore, many people didn't write it down.
Someone from the audience said that the hill in the park is man made. Can't we push it over so there are more places to put some of these construction items? Jim Stickley said it could cost more money than you think, especially after grading, drainage, sewer and utility boxes are taken into consideration.
Someone asked if you could provide costs of each item. Let's keep the park small! Is this considered a county park? Jim Norman said this in not a county park. Parks are classified as neighborhood, district or regional. La Colina park is considered a neighborhood park. The parks department is not trying to make La Colina a regional park. Mr. Stickley showed that the base items (Tot lot, shaded picnic area, three new gates, landscaping, trash enclosure, drainage and other miscellaneous items) should cost around $235,000. Items still open for consideration such as a restroom should cost around $120,000, a youth lot should cost around $120,000 and a sport court should cost $45,000. Charlotte says there will be enough money in the budget to get these items if we wanted them).
Someone asked how much the portable bathrooms cost that are brought in on the weekend vs. a permanent bathroom. Todd Capurso , La Colina park manager, said he didn't know.
Charles from the audience said there is a San Jose park which has concrete tubes for the kids to slide down the hills. Could we have that in our park? Mr. Capurso quickly said you are the only one who has mentioned that.
Someone said that there is a dog problem in the park. Mr. Capurso said that the newly created Miyuki Dog park is the only city park where you can take a dog off leash. Someone also said that dog owners currently use the park the most.
Someone said that there is a cat problem in the park. They said the people in the community gardens put out food for them in the summer and then abandon them in the winter. One time 47 cats were counted. Mr. Capurso mentioned that 75 familes use the community garden.
Someone mentioned that they think the signs are fine the way they are.
Mike Murphy asked about the configuration of the restrooms. Mr. Capurso said there would be 2 stalls per sex. There would also be a room in between for storage and bathroom maintenance supplies. Mike also suggested a less beautiful restroom much like the ones near the beaches, so it wouldn't encourage anyone to want to sleep in the bathroom.
Charlotte mentioned that there is a potential for an additional $100,000 of parks money in the mid-year budget. There should be enough money to build what the neighbors want in La Colina Park.
Phil Lawrence made a passionate plea for a tennis court since it wasn't looking like the current audience was interested in a sports court. After his argument a show of hands was asked for those who wanted a sports court. I believe only three people voted for it.
Somehow it came out that it costs $100,000 per acre to maintain more park land. I think it was in response to leveling one of the hills in the park.
The landscape architects said they have plans for eight picnic tables, six barbecue stands and three shaded structures per picnic area.
Someone said that the pastural jogging trail is just fine and there isn't a need for a formal jogging area.
A heated argument occured between two neighbors when a woman was tired of hearing about the neighbors who live nearest the park nixing every feature of the park for people who use the park.
Mr. Capurso mentioned that there is/will be a garbage storage bin that will be put inside the park. The park staff will wheel it out once a week then bring it back in.
Someone asked if the park construction could begin this year. The response was probably in seven to eight months.
Someone asked when we could see new drawings based on the feedback from this meeting. At first the parks department said two and one-half months for the finished construction drawings, but Charlotte said we can have a quick run through meeting at the end of April with renditions much like we saw this evening. When the construction drawings are completed in two and one-half months, the job can be put out for bid.
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