Amid charges by neighbors that an agreement between the City of San Jose and a private school privatized a public park, San Jose City Councilmember Pete Constant wants to set the record straight on what he calls “misinformation.”
“There’s a handful of neighbors and residents spreading misinformation,” Constant said. “It’s a typical strategy if you don’t believe you can win on an issue. You distort things to change peoples minds. It's important to keep it in context. The park serves a very large community. Of tens of thousands of people who use our parks, the conversation is being dominated by four or five people.”
In an effort to clear up any confusion his office created and distributed a Myth vs. Fact sheet on various points of contention about the park and the agreement with the school.
Editor’s note: Constant’s Myth vs. Fact sheet and a copy of the letter he sent to neighbors of the park was erroneously and accidentally omitted from . The documents have been added to that article and are attached to this article.
San Jose entered into an agreement with Archbishop Mitty High School to pay for and maintain John Mise Park, which a block from the school, in exchange for more time on the sports field at the park and parking use.
It drew the ire of some who live nearby or use the park that sits on the eastern border of Cupertino in Constant’s district.
“The City of San Jose, for all practical purposes, gave away a public park to a private high school … despite strong opposition from local citizens,” wrote on June 1.
The project has been in the works since 2008 and several public hearings were held during that time, , and Constant maintains that there is great demand for sports field use throughout San Jose and neighboring cities, and the city has been trying to meet that demand. But due to lack of available land and money it is forced to be creative in reaching those goals.
The district in which Mise Park is located is dense with residences and commercial buildings. Much of the area was planned and developed between the ‘50s and ‘70s, with little thought given to planning for large parks, he said.
The deal with Mitty helps out San Jose financially, allows for some improvements to the park and gives Mitty additional use time of the sports fields, which is one area that seems to irk some.
“Mitty was solicited by the City and has entered into an agreement that best serves their needs,” wrote Andrea Boucher in a comment on Patch.
Constant argues that Mitty isn’t gaining as much as some are claiming.
“Mitty currently reserves the sports field from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. during the school year and must make these reservations every six months as part of the normal sports field reservations process. The joint-use agreement will formalize their reservations from 2:45 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday from August 20 to June 1. The agreement also includes an additional 20 hours per year that Mitty may request to use the sports field,” Constant wrote in the Myth vs. Fact sheet.
“It is important to note that the rest of the park—basketball courts, picnic tables, and grassy areas—will still be available to the pubic. Mitty’s reservations are for the use of the sports field only.”
Artificial turf will be installed at the park, another point some find distasteful. Mitty will contribute up to $375,000 toward the turf initially and then add up to $175,000 toward future replacement. The cost of maintaining the park will also be covered mostly by Mitty, which helps out cash-strapped San Jose.
There are those who argue that artificial turf is filled with toxins and is insanitary because sweat, saliva and animal urine and feces could contaminate it.
Toxins aren’t found in the newer artificial turf products and all the unbecoming bodily fluids can be found on grass, Constant said. The artificial turf requires less water to maintain it, though through regular water cleanings and rakings it does still use some water, but it’s the water that will help keep it clean.