Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Former County Supervisors call on current Board to put trails first

Former Santa Clara County Supervisors Susanne Wilson and Blanca Alvarado in today's San Jose Mercury News:

On Aug. 21, the current board will face a critical test of its leadership. It will review proposed policies for using the County Parks Charter Fund within urban areas, perhaps in ways not envisioned by voters. We urge the board to commit to the goal of a trail network linking communities and recreation opportunities -- and resist using the countywide fund to provide small neighborhood serving parks, as some supervisors have suggested.
Wilson and Alvarado are referring to the long-delayed Board of Supervisors decision on whether to amend the General Plan and the Parkland Acquisition Plan in order to allow the County Parks Charter Fund to be used for neighborhood-serving "pocket parks" in urban unincorporated neighborhoods. Committee for Green Foothills has opposed this proposal and will be  advocating next Tuesday for the Board to follow Wilson and Alvarado's suggestion of prioritizing trails rather than pocket parks to serve these urban unincorporated neighborhoods.

The county's highest priority should be completing the gaps in the urban trails network to improve connectivity, which multiplies the value of existing trails, and bring access to underserved areas.
Several of the most significant gaps in the network are in San Jose, including:
  • The Three Creeks Trail, which would provide a critical east-west link between the Los Gatos Creek, Guadalupe River and Coyote Creek Trails.  
  • The Coyote Creek and Penitencia Creek Trails, including connections to the coming Berryessa BART station.
  • The Five Wounds Trail, which would improve access to the Coyote Creek Trail and to the future Alum Rock BART station.
The county should collaborate with cities and other agencies to close these and other gaps and provide opportunities for residents of neighborhoods that have too few parks. Trails offer safe access to the wide array of parks and recreation areas located along them. And by making outdoor recreation more accessible and bicycle commuting easier, they will improve public health.
The trails serve as a metaphor for connecting people to people through nature. Our connection to the voters who are passionate about these trails cannot be misplaced through a change in public policy. This is what's at issue Tuesday. The current board needs to support the traditional scope of the voter-approved County Parks Charter Fund until voters say otherwise. 
For the full op-ed, go to

To tell the Santa Clara County Supervisors to follow Susanne Wilson's and Blanca Alvarado's urging and reject the proposal to use the County Parks Charter Fund for neighborhood-serving parks, contact the Board of Supervisors at

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