Friends of Santa Teresa Park Meeting, 10/5/17


    • Attendees: Mike Boulland, Kitty Monahan, Greg & Roxanne Koopman, Ron Horii, Kim Gardner, Larry Serda (new).
    • Larry Serda is new. He came to Ron Horii's photo class last Saturday. He and his family like to go hiking in the park.
    • There is a new ranger at Hellyer/Santa Teresa: David Hamblin. Justin Everts is moving to Vasona.
    • There's a new policy to move rangers from one park to another every 4 years. This had to do with ranger contract negotiations. We're concerned that by the time a ranger becomes familiar with a park, he/she will have to leave and go to a park where they don't know anything about.
    • John Dorrance talked to Mike Boulland and Ron Horii about needing someone to help take care of the 8 smaller garden boxes in the Bernal Ranch. 4-H is no longer taking care of them. A volunteer is already handling the big butterfly garden box. John needs someone to plant flowers and vegetables, maintain the boxes, and harvest the crops, which they can keep. We may want to have a work day to clear out the weeds. Greg & Roxanne are on the waiting list for a community garden at Martial Cottle, which doesn't exist yet and will be managed by the City of San Jose. They may be interested in taking care of the Bernal Ranch gardens. They will contact John.
    • Ron showed pictures of construction and fencing around the Muriel Wright Center, vines covering Santa Teresa Spring, evidence of a possible leak at the spring, portraits at the Bernal Ranch, his photo class at the ranch, benches that have replaced picnic tables at the free parking lot on Bernal Road, Boy Scout projects on the Ohlone Trail, views from the Norred Trail, the Hidden Springs Trail, and the Bernal Hill Trail. 
    • Coyote Crest 4H posted a notice on the Bernal Ranch chicken coop looking for new members. They are still maintaining the chickens at the Bernal Ranch, but no longer are doing rabbits and the garden. Some of the former members and leaders of Coyote Crest have moved to Martial Cottle.
    • Yesterday, Ron and John Dorrance noticed that the water level in the pond at Santa Teresa Spring was unusually low. There was no water flowing out of the pond to the street, which has never happened before in recent memory. The spring itself was flowing normally and into the big concrete cistern. The cistern was about a yard below its overflow pipe, which is how water gets into the pond. The cistern may have a leak. Ron told Sr. Ranger Frank Weiland and head of maintenance Henry Texeira. John Dorrance forwarded the information. Word got around to Robin Schaut, Mark Frederick, and Elizabeth Evans. Park maintenance will be looking into it. The gardening group at Hellyer may be able to help.
    • We applied for a San Jose Beautify Grant, which replaced the CAP Grants. This year we asked for $2380. It includes $200 for UNSCC membership, $180 for website hosting fees, $300 for newsletter/publications/communication expenses, $100 for our PO box, $300 for Family Fandango/community event supplies, $1150 for National Night Out handouts, refreshments, and shirts, $150 for National Night Out event insurance. We predicted $4660 of matching grants, which includes volunteer hours at $23/hour. The total is $7040. The hardest part about applying for the grant was answering all the questions within the character limits allowed.
    • The final report for CAP Grant 30 was due on Sept. 30. Mike and Ron worked on it and submitted it early. The hardest part was collecting and sorting through all the receipts.
    • The Muriel Wright Center was a juvenile correctional facility since the 1960's. It originally held only girls under 18. They later housed boys under 15 1/2. It was closed due to declining usage, and now juvenile offenders are sent to the James Ranch in Morgan Hill. In 2014, the County Parks Volunteers Office and the sheriffs office moved in. Part of the center was retrofitted for Americorps, who stayed in converted dorm rooms in the center while doing service projects around the county. The Volunteers Office allowed the sheriffs to use their part of the facility for training purposes. In early 2016, the Volunteers Office was told they had to move out to make room for the county's mental health program. That's when we first heard about it, but we didn't know the details of who was moving in. The Volunteers Office and rangers didn't know either. The Volunteers Office was first told they had to move out in the middle of 2016, but this has been pushed out into next year. They have moved into spare office space provided by the sheriffs. Their former facility has been gutted. The planning for the changeover was first discussed in public budget meetings and Board of Supervisors meetings in 2015, but there was no outreach to the community. At the end of July this year, an article in the Mercury News on sobering stations mentioned that the Muriel Wright Center would be used for a 30-bed residential recovery center for substance abusers. This started a discussion on Next Door and a petition on Neighbors are worried about what kind of people and problems this might bring into their neighborhoods. They also complained about not being informed about it.We're concerned about what kind of problems this might bring into the park. Will this bring a certain element into the park that could scare away families and other park users? There are secluded parts of the park that could become a haven for illegal activities. This could pose a hazard for hikers who might stumble onto them. 
    • On 9/14/17, Mike Boulland and Ron Horii were invited by neighborhood resident Issa Ajlouny, who started the discussion on Next Door, to meet with Supervisor Mike Wasserman and his Chief of Staff John Gibbs, who is also a County Parks Commissioner. They discussed this issues, and John Gibbs said he would publish a Q&A information document. We need to review it and prepare a response to it. Issa has been responding to it. We got a draft of the Q&A and discussed it in our meeting. We talked about the sheriffs at Muriel Wright. What is their role now, and how will it change? Will they be asked to perform guard duties? We were concerned about how the residents will be released from the center. Can they drive up and leave on their own? Who can pick them up? What if they have no one to pick them up or no place to go? We'll bring these questions to John Gibbs.
    • Mike talked about the Parks Commission meeting. They talked about problems doing a land swap to widen and pave Curie. (They are having the similar problems widening Branham Lane at Martial Cottle.) If the County widens the road, they have to dedicate it to the city. State law says the city has to either pay for the land or do a land swap. They are finding that a land swap isn't feasible, and the city can't afford to buy it. They want to know if putting a trail along Curie would solve the problem. At our last meeting, we said that wanted to see the road widened because the narrowing of Curie is a safety issue for cars, as well as bikes and pedestrians. We'd like to see a solution that addresses safety for all three users. Putting in an internal trail, while leaving the fence where it is, helps pedestrians and bicycles (if bicycles are allowed), but doesn't address safety for cars. They are proposing to extend the fence at the Bear Tree Lot, so there would be a wide dirt shoulder along the road and build a new trail next to it. We said maybe it would work, but we'd like to see a design proposal. There's $300K available to do the job.
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       Created 10/5/17  by Ronald Horii, secretary of the Friends of Santa Teresa Park