We must all strongly support the retention and additions to the County Parks Charter Fund. I'm trying to shuffle my schedule to be with you at tomorrows Board meeting.
The original Parks Charter Campaign of 1972, I think, was my introduction to county government. I was one of many co-chairs as a kid Saratoga City Councilmember, along with Mary Davey and others, and remember the elation at the campaign's success. The campaign group, lead by Wally Stegner and others, often met at the Duveneck's and dreamed of a better future for our Valley. We were so proud to have done something that would have lasting impact; it felt good in a deep, transcendent way.
But that impact can be lost!
County parks' financing charter protection is needed more now than ever and should not only be reestablished but increased significantly.
1) The added funding is needed because the County's park acreage is so much larger now (from about 2,000 acres in the early 1970s to almost 50,000 acres now).
2) Urbanization is causing so much more pressure on our parks. The Valley had about 750,000 people in the early 1970s and is over 1.7 million now.
3) Beyond the development, custodial and maintenance cost increases, we must acquire those last parcels that are needed to ring the currently urbanized areas. That long-pursued objective will not only protect open space and create park lands but also preclude the extension of growth-inducing services further into the hills. Our open-space districts and land trusts are doing all they can but don't have the funding to complete the job by themselves.
4) And we need to complete our creek-side trail system that began with the Los Gatos Creek Streamside Trail and is expanding but not fast enough. The land along those creek is perishable and once access is lost it's impossible to regain. And we have some relatively small but strategic gaps in the current trails that can only be filled by judicious investments.
5) Remember that the County's Historical Heritage Commission also provided historic preservation funding from the Parks Charter Fund. That's been discontinued because of the fiscal crisis but must be reestablished so we can protect the best of the past to create a better future.
Thank you for the very important work done in the past and currently by the Committee for Green Foothills. Wally Stegner would be proud of you!
Rod Diridon, Sr.
Supervisor 4th Distinct for 20 years (ret.)
Chair, League of Conservation Voters of SCC Board
Mineta Transportation Institute
SJSU Research Center