Archive for the ‘Parks’ Category

SJ pools kept open with outside help


It was about a month ago that the city of San Jose announced they’d made an agreement with California Sports Center to keep two swimming pools open this summer, that otherwise would have been closed due to the city’s budget crisis. Rotary Ryland Pool and Fair Swim Center will be open thanks to this agreement. Camden and Mayfair pools will be open under City Parks management.

Ryland Pool was threatened with permanent closure in 2006, but it was saved and restored through community action, and reopened last year in a major victory for near-downtown neighborhoods.

CSC agreed to provide recreational swimming at the same price the city had used last year. They will also provide lessons. I’ve heard the lesson prices are somewhat higher than last year, but the class sizes are smaller. Schedules and pricing for recreational swimming and lessons are now available from CSC.

A Star Party

Jim Van Nuland telling David Pratt a fascinating space fact?

All philosophy is based on two things only: curiosity and poor eyesight … The trouble is we want to know more than we can see.
–Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle (1686)

In “A Tear At The Edge of Creation”, the author, Marcelo Gleiser questions the limitations of the Big Bang model. Gleiser’s research of the early Universe leads him to believe that intelligent life is nothing more than an accident.

It’s a matter of chance that the Earth works as a home for life. It only happens that the Earth is the proper distance from the sun at the precise angle, with a magnetic field, the right chemicals, water, and a moon. Rather than Adam and Eve, Gleiser sees Frankenstein and his bride (whose DNA was born in a puddle which was hit by the electric charge of lightning). Nature is alive due to imperfect chance and mutation. There is no grand plan for us and therefore no answer to our “Why is there life?”

Reading “A Tear At The Edge of Creation”, pondering the beginning of life and the expansion of the universe, made me think of  a group called the San Jose Astronomical Association (SJAA). I hadn’t been to one of their ‘star parties’ in about 20 years. It was great to see familiar faces and the big telescopes set up ready for viewing. In speaking with Rich Neuschaefer, the president of the club, I found out that there are about 300 members, but the public is always welcome to the activities.

SJAA site
Public Star Party
Tonight – May 21
Houge Park – Directions
9:15 PM – 12 PM

See the Moon, Venus, Saturn and more for Free.

A must read – Star Party Etiquette

Kids Free Fishing Days in Campbell 2010

The 19th Annual Kids Free Fishing Days is this weekend at the Campbell Percolation Ponds, Los Gatos Creek Park.

Kids 17-years-old and younger fish free and adults are welcome to attend. Bring your own rod, reel, and bait. The ponds are stocked with trout. Kids who catch specially marked fish will be awarded prizes.

Even though the fishing is for the kids, the whole family can enjoy the event. Bring a picnic lunch; there will be hot dogs and sodas available to purchase.

Los Gatos Creek County Park
1250 Dell Ave, Campbell

Saturday and Sunday, May 1 – 2, 2010
Begins at sun up and ends at sundown

Los Gatos Creek Park Parking (Vehicle Entry Fee): $6.00

Fate of Backesto Park bocce courts up in the air

Bocce courts in Backesto Park

Bocce courts in Backesto Park have become overgrown and dilapidated.

The fate of three bocce courts in the Northside’s Backesto Park came up for discussion this evening as part of ongoing discussions of improvements to the park. The courts were renovated a little over 10 years ago, with a traditional natural oyster shell surface. At the time these were the only free public bocce courts in San Jose, although courts have been added in a couple of other city parks since then. The courts were initially tended by a dedicated group of players in the Northside Bocce Club, but after a few years several of the players dropped out due to advancing age, and the courts were not maintained. Now weeds and moss grow from the cracked and uneven courts, and few players come to use them.

Now the city has some hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend on capital improvements to Backesto Park (but barely a dime for maintenance) and with the bocce courts fallen into disuse, the possibility of replacing them with some other amenity that would benefit more users had come up for consideration.

At tonight’s meeting, hosted by District 3 councilman Sam Liccardo and his staff, close to two dozen bocce players and enthusiasts came to show support for retaining the bocce courts, possibly with some improvements. The diversity of the participants was encouraging: There were parishioners from the nearby Holy Cross church, a representative from an Italian-American heritage organization, and a coach/educator connected to Special Olympics, among others all interested in using the courts.

The bulk of the discussion revolved around making the courts more accessible. Currently the key to the locked gate to the courts (and a set of bocce balls) can be borrowed from one of two local businesses, Bronco’s Restaurant or Chiaramonte’s Deli, but there’s no signs saying so, and you’d only know how to get the key if you already know how to get the key. Many participants suggested opening the gates during the day and locking them each night, but nobody proposed who would actually do the locking and unlocking, and nobody volunteered to take the job themselves.

Liccardo earned my respect at the end of the meeting when he pointed out that whatever improvements are made with the available capital money, maintenance will only be possible with volunteer help, and that real commitments from individuals or organizations for that maintenance will be needed before investing in refurbishing the courts makes sense.

A Valentine from the Rose Garden

Just in case you missed the rows of pink and red at all the grocery stores or heart-filled display windows I thought I’d make sure everyone knows that Valentine’s Day is next Sunday. Have you bought your sweetheart-mother-father-friend-etc that special something yet?

ValentineWebAdIf you’re looking for something simple, with local flavor, AND maybe it even helps out a local organization at the same time – look no further than the Friends of Guadalupe River’s Adopt-a-Rose program. Throughout the year this program allows you to adopt a rose bush for one year for $50. They also run two specials a year – Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.

For the Valentine’s Day adoption gift, you receive:

  • Gift Card
  • Small box of Schurra’s Chocolates
  • Cafe Too! Gourmet Cookie
  • Romantic Carousel Ride
  • Your personal message on a plaque for a full year on a rose of your choice at the San Jose Heritage Rose Garden

It’s quite a lovely idea for a gift, specially if you have any rose-lovers or fans of the Guadalupe Gardens in your gift-giving circle.

Be sure to check the FAQ for details; the Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day gifts are not tax deductible because you get gifts in return (the other items listed above, for example.) However, if you choose to adopt a rose throughout the year, that will be tax deductible.

Veterans Day 11/11/2009

American FlagWednesday, November 11, is Veterans Day. There will be a memorial ceremony and a parade in downtown San Jose. In honor of Veterans Day, entrance fees waived at National Parks and other areas.

The Parade‘s Opening Ceremony begins on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month with a memorial ceremony at Plaza de Cesar Chavez on Market Street.

The Parade begins at noon from Delmas Street (near HP Pavilion) and travels east along Santa Clara to Market Street. The Parade then proceeds south on Market Street and ends at San Carlos Street. The reviewing stand is near Park Street.

Vice Admiral Jody A. Breckenridge, Commander United States Coast Guard Defense Forces West and Pacific Area, is this year’s Grand Marshal.

In addition, entrance fees waived on Veterans Day at public recreation lands managed by the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, along with the Bureau of Land Management. Click on the service’s link for more information (other fees still apply). There are a number of public recreation lands in the Bay Area or head on over to Yosemite.

Veterans Day
Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Ryland Pool Restoration Celebration

Bachelder Dutch Boy tiles were reproduced as part of the restoration of the Rotary Ryland Pool.

Bachelder 'Dutch Boy' tiles were reproduced as part of the restoration of the Rotary Ryland Pool.

Near-downtown residents got together today to celebrate the completion of historical restoration work on the Rotary Ryland Pool at Ryland Park in the Vendome neighborhood. Vendome Neighborhood Association president Tina Morrill presented restored tilework on the pool, as well as educational signage, a commemorative plaque, and a new sign for the entry to the pool.

The pool was originally built in the 1920’s, featuring the Batchelder “Dutch Boy” tiles around its perimeter wall. These tiles were later painted over, probably in the 1970’s. What’s worse, to make the paint adhere better, the tiles were sandblasted, eliminating their original glaze and much of their relief pattern.

In 2006, when the city of San Jose wanted to close the pool, the public outcry, massive efforts by a small group of volunteers, and $1.4 million in funding came together to save it. The pool reopened last summer, but the historical restoration work continued over the past year.

Reproduction Dutch Boy tiles were produced from a mold taken from a 1920’s era Batchelder tile found at an out-of-state antique tile dealer. A commemorative plaque was installed, recognizing the contribution of the Rotary Club in donating the original pool and funding the recent restoration work. An education placard was also posted, explaining the restoration proces, and also hopefully making the point that historic resources should not be treated as cavalierly as the pool and its tiles once were. Finally, a new sign was added at the entry to the pool, designed by Northsider Sonya Lu and fabricated by Brian’s Welding, just down the street from the park.

Ryland Pool sign

The new entryway sign at Ryland Pool.

Bark in the Park 2009

australian shepherdBark in the Park is a fundraising event with big dogs, little dogs, skilled dogs, not so skilled dogs; well, you get the idea. A portion of the proceeds benefits the Humane Society Silicon Valley and San Jose Animal Care Center.

Throughout the day at various times: dancing dogs, dog water park, free dog agility course, flyball canine relay, performing dogs, grooming, training tips and herding demonstrations.

Special event highlights: dog costume contest, 11:00 am, silly dog tricks, 12:00 pm and pet/owner look alike contest 1:00 pm.

In addition, 99 cents rabies vaccinations, low cost microchipping, dog-related vendors and what would an event be without kid’s activities?

There will be live music along with food and beverages.

Important: All pets must be on a leash. Pick up after your dog.

Bark in the Park 2009
William Street Park, San Jose
Corner of William and S. Sixteenth Streets

Saturday, September 19
10:00 am – 5:00 pm

Admission: humans free – $5 donation per dog is encouraged

Parking: Attendees may park in the Naglee Park neighborhood, please do not block the driveways. There will be a drop-off location at the park and directions to nearby parking areas.

3rd Annual District 6 (Free) Safety & Movie Event


Pierluigi Oliverio

Tonight is council member Pierluigi Oliverio’s 3rd annual district 6 “Safety Fair & Outdoor Movie Event“.

Featuring – “WALL-E” by Disney/Pixar

When – Friday, August 28th

Time – 7:00 PM

Where – Bramhall/Willow St. Park – Willow Glen

Enter – Willow St. (near Meridian) cross street Glen Eyrie

Bring – a Blanket and Flashlight

Future bike trail threatened


Willow Glen Extra reported the other day on a threat to the “Three Creeks” bike trail proposed to link trails along Coyote Creek, the Guadalupe River, and Los Gatos Creek. The trail is planned by the city of San Jose to be built along abandoned railroad rights of way, but money hasn’t yet been found to purchase the land.

In the meantime, the railroad has sold portions of the land off to other parties, and now one purchaser is planning to build a structure over the proposed trail site. Stucco Supply Co. is requesting planning approval to build a storage area on the land they acquired from the railroad.

Because planning approval is needed there’s still time for input from the public. With enough support, the planning department can require the property owner to grant an easement for bicycle access through the site, allowing the bike path to pass through the area without having to be diverted onto busy streets.

See the WGx article for more detail, including the names and addresses of appropriate government people to contact if you support development of San Jose’s cycling infrastructure.

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