Single Gal and Falling Through the Cracks

When we think about our city, we often think about the big-ticket items that make a huge impact.  We are always talking about ways to enrich San Jose with more, more, and more! This includes building BART, baseball stadiums, funding large scale developments and adding retail shopping.  But it seems that when we do that—which is important—smaller projects that are also important to some citizens fall through the cracks.

One of these smaller concerns at present is the pool at Ryland Park in San Jose. Bordered by North First St. on one side and San Pedro St. on the other, it has become a very nice public space. Yes, it has its problems and has been a haven for the homeless at times; but, the Vendome neighborhood residents have done many good things to improve the park, adding a new playground and trying to make it kid-friendly. The pool has been empty for as long as I can remember and the residents want to get it reopened. However, they keep running into the same stumbling blocks.  Now I hear that the pool is about to be recommended to the Parks and Recreation Dept. for permanent closure as part of the city’s “Master Aquatics Plan.” Just using the words “master” and “plan” together when we talk about anything in San Jose is a little amusing, but this issue definitely isn’t.

Reopening the pool is a simple way to improve the neighborhood park and there doesn’t seem to be any answers as to why it needs to be closed for good.  There is ample housing adjacent to the park and the neighborhood clearly wants it and would thrive from it. I understand that, at present, this is an issue to a small number of residents, but that doesn’t mean their concerns should not be heard by the masses.

The ultimate question is: how do we get things like this done in a town that isn’t friendly to getting anything done in a timely manner?  Here’s hoping they listen to this one.

The Master Aquatics Plan will be discussed on Wednesday, February 7 at 5:00 p.m. in City Hall if you want to find out for yourself.

36 Comments

  1. Don’t let the city ignore the long, rich history of this site. Generations learned to swim here. If this goes the way of so many of our historic sites, we will lose yet another piece of our past. SG, thanks for bringing this to SJI. Lets hope many folks will raise their voices on this and tell the city to save this historic site and let the people swim there once more!

  2. The Ryland Pool is becoming a symbol of what should be available in a city for everyday residents.  It seems that the previous administration shifted the focus and funded flashy ticket items that would call attention to San Jose and thereby put her on the map.  The classic example of this is the car race.  Yeah, it’s OK to spend money to move trees, break the plaza fountain, distrupt normal business and traffic plans, displace residents from their homes, all to put San Jose on TV.  So how much good does the average citizen reap.  Wouldn’t we rather be enjoying our families in a neighborhood park?  If we truly want people to move back to the city’s core, we need to provide what most smaller cities take for granted.  At this point, we seem to offer expensive condos. Why would families find those inviting without spaces like Ryland Park?  Actually parks should be more important than ever if we do expect families to migrate back, they take the place of a backyard.

    Thanks for the tip on the meeting this Wednesday, sounds like it’s worth attending.  This is the perfect site for some of us to become aware of meetings such as this.

  3. SG, I agree with you that the pool shouild be reopened. This “Master Aquatics Plan” sounds like more make-work for consultants and our new mayor and city council should just end the study and reopen the pools. It’s pretty simple, really.

  4. I echo #3, plus: either find the money and re-open this and other closed pools, or don’t find the money and keep them closed, but PLEASE don’t spend another dime on consultants to help staff figure out how to open a damn swimming pool… or on anything else, for that matter.

    If our staff and managers can’t do a job without consultants, fire them and hire people who can.

    We just saw how many people on city staff make over $200k/year.  What do they do to earn it if they’re constantly enganging consultants to tell them how to do THEIR JOBS?

  5. Single Gal:  Thanks for reporting on this.  Historic Ryland Pool was built in 1925 by the Rotary Club of San Jose.  It is the only public pool in downtown (and one of only six in all of San Jose), so it is important not only to the immediate Vendome neighborhood residents.  Many San Jose residents first learned to swim there. 

    Ryland Pool is now in jeopardy, as Single Gal says, by the city’s aquatics master plan process.  The city council has spent $250,000 on outside consultants for this effort, and at every public community meeting, the residents have delivered a clear message:  open the existing pools ASAP.  Yet, the city’s paid consultants have been spinning a different story for their parks & recreation department masters, suggesting that what is needed are grand, Raging Waters-style complexes in each council district, notwithstanding that there is no money to pay for them.  Thus, ultimately the master plan will sit on a shelf somewhere gathering dust, but historic Ryland Pool will be allowed to be demolished for the illusory promise of a new complex somewhere downtown sometime in the future. 

    Fortunately, downtown residents are not going to stand for this.  Worst case scenario, we will ask the city to get out of the way, and we will fix and operate the pool ourselves.  The city consultants suggest it will cost $1.2 million simply to re-open the pool.  That means the private sector can probably do it for $120,000.  I’ve asked the parks director to allow Friends of Ryland Pool to seek private bids to confirm this, but he has yet to respond. 

    You can help Friends of Ryland Pool, and simultaneously send a message of resolve to the city, by making a tax deductible donation online to Friends of Ryland Pool at http://www.13thStNAC.org.  Click on the Friends of Ryland Pool button and follow the instructions, and you will automatically receive a donation receipt by email.  13th St. NAC—part of the Strong Neighborhoods Initiative—is a 501c(3) non-profit, so donations should be tax deductible.  (Consult your tax adviser.)  Donations will go toward rebuilding and maintaining the pool.  If the city steps in and rebuilds it, donations to the Friends of Ryland Pool will be used for further amenities at the pool. 

    You can also attend the city council meeting on February 27 at 7 pm, when the council will hold a study session on the aquatics master plan.  Tell them you want Ryland Pool opened in time for summer.

  6. HOLD THE PRESSES, SINGLE GAL

    San Jose has been selected by the Republican leadership in the Assemnly, to receive a state prison.

    That’s right, in North San Jose, Arnold is giving us a state prison.

    Well, Mayor Chuck, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT???

    Or, does Victor, your boss, Chuck, have too many ties to the State Prison Guards Union to make you do what he wants?

  7. Don #7 informed us: ” The city council has spent $250,000 on outside consultants for this effort, and at every public community meeting, the residents have delivered a clear message:  open the existing pools ASAP. “

    $250,000 on consultants to tell our supposedly incredible parks and rec. staff how to get six pools open for use??? HOLY-WASTE-OF-PUBLIC-FUNDS, BATMAN!!!!

  8. Ryland Park was named after C.T. Ryland, a son-in-law of our first Gov., Peter Burnett who lived just north of the park. Ryland had a mansion there, thus the beautiful trees – first names, “Caius Tacitus” – I sound like the last act of “The Importance of Being Earnest” – and he hailed from Missouri, a 49’er.  He served on the City Council.  I am sure he would want the pool open. If only Leonard McKay were here to write this properly.  TMcE

  9. Should the pool be demolished for new condos or whatever, do not expect anything resembling a pool elsewhere in the area to be provided as a form of mitigation.  Here’s why I’m so sure of this:

    I was amazed to see a story in the Rose Garden Resident regarding the Murison Label complex on Stockton Avenue that was demolished in favor of a low-income housing project, Cinnabar Commons.  The city supposedly required the developer to showcase the rich historical significance of Murison Label’s role in the valley.  What we got is a temporary *on-line* exhibit (historysanjose.org) of a tiny fraction of labels that were collected or otherwise saved, and some pictures of the factory.

    THIS is all the developer was required to do after leveling a valley landmark?  Larry Stone, shame on you!  If that doesn’t make a case for adaptive re-use (The city of SJ is generally allergic, by the way) I don’t know what does.  The KB homes project on the old Del Monte property is a similarly disrespectful abomination.

    So maybe you’ll get some pictures of the old Ryland pool that you can view in air conditioned comfort on a hot day.  But don’t expect another pool to be installed downtown if Ryland is paved over.  You will not get another pool, I promise you.

  10. #13 – Good statement.  Think we’d best get preserving before all of the history is gone or simply remembered by replicas at History Museum mixed with a few original structures.  At least we still have McCabe Hall, Jay would be happy!

  11. Dear 10 and 14 – I do not know if Chuck Reed supports a prison in North SJ , our richest redevelopment area, but I think not. Rest assured that Caius Tacitus Ryland does not!  I have been on the “history beat” today.  I will switch to “prisons” tomorrow and try to get an answer.  TMcE

  12. Dear San Jose:

    Just found out… the city’s consultant has recommended that two swimming pools be built at the new prison!

    Pete Campbell

  13. Tom your silence on the issue of whether Victor Ajoluny and Chuck, are trying to, as a favor to the Republicans in the Legislature, ram this state prison at Agnews down our throats, is amazing.

    Victor knew about for weeks as did Chuck Reed, and the fact that you seem not care about a state prison for San Joses makes us all wonder.

    Reed has a debt to pay Victor Ajoluny who has boasted around town, that he will have two votes for anything, Reed and Hon Lien.

  14. James – I am in favor of locking up violent criminals until they are old men: this has always been my position. And I am not in favor of a prison in No.SJ – period.  Take up your Vic A. obsession w. him. Mayor Reed does not make “deals”, of that you can be sure.  I would not think with his strong views on economic development for No.SJ that he would favor such a prison plan.  TMcE

  15. I was born in S J 68 years ago and I remember my Dad taking me to Ryland Pool as a small child to learn to swim.
    Imagine how many other children could have that pleasure if the pool were kept open.
    Why do we get rid of every thing that is old?  Should that include me?
    When I went to the Azores they built big new building right next door to the little old rock houses keeping their history alive.
    Even when we add on it has to be modern, look at the Art museum shouldn’t they have carried on the same brick style?
    Campbell keeps it style with its new buildings and they look great.
    Back to Ryland Park , doesn’t new housing need a park with a swimming pool?  Can not that be a part of the plan?  Something old, something new.
    Thank you

  16. Don: 250,000 spent on outside counsultants ? please give me a break. why don’t you ask your girl Cindy how that money was spent? you can’t have it both ways. for you to bitch and moan about it now when it’s to late is just stupid. you should have been a little more concerned when the loser was spending all that money not now, but you know as well as I that was just the way they did things. spend spend spend who cares it’s not our money!
    I so glad that beast is gone, get back to us and let us know if you find out where that money really went?

  17. #11 Tom, though Leonard isn’t here in body, he did write it.  Today, when a journalist called to ask about the history of Ryland Park and its pool, the two places I looked were in ” A Postcard History of San Jose” by Leonard for info on the Natatorium (pg 94) and “Clyde Arbuckle’s History of San Jose” published by Leonard.  Page 425 says “Meanwhile the heirs of early day banker Caius T. Ryland donated to the city their homeplace on the west side of North First Street …… This property became Ryland Park on March 13, 1911. Fifteen years later, it got a wading pool for children, a project financed by the San Jose Rotary Club.  It sure is nice to know that two great guys like Leonard and Clyde are still here to guide us.

  18. Readers, please consider donating to the Friends of Ryland Pool (See item 7) and attending one or both meetings; PRNS Feb 7 and City Council Mtg Feb 27.

    For those who have never seen it, Ryland Pool is a lovely, round pool in the middle of Ryland Park.  It’s conveniently located along light rail and a quick walk from the Japantown/Ayer station.  It brings community and families together. It’s location promotes environmentally friendly modes of transportation. It deserves to be enjoyed.

    I hope you’ll join the effort to save this historic and lovely community asset.

    Thank you.

  19. I am glad this issue, though small to some and large to others is generating this discussion….I hope that some sense is made of all this at the upcomingmeetings…

  20. The answer of how we re-open our community pools can be found in Sunnyvale.  When parents and residents near Fremont High School wanted to fix the pool and rebuild it as an Olympic sized regulation pool they latched onto a pending Campus Master Plan that Applied Materials wanted an approval for from their City Council.  Sunnyvale Council Members required Applied Materials to demonstrate that the project had a community benefit as part of its findings to approve the project.  Applied Materials donated $1M to the City of Sunnyvale to be used for future community/civic projects.  The parents formed the Friends of Fremont Pool organization in conjunction with school boosters and hounded Council Members night- and-day to approve the project and subsequently got the Council and City staff to also appropriate the $1M to the pool project.

    San Jose City Council can do the same thing by using Development Agreements when it considers all the pending industrial to residential conversions that have been submitted to the Planning Department for this upcoming year.  The number of pending applications will blow your mind.  Instead of granting a simple PD zoning approval it can tell the developers that it will only consider these proposals as part of a City-negotiated Development Agreement.  This is valid legal process allowed by the State’s Planning, Zoning & Development Laws.  Additionally, the Council has already adopted criteria for Industrial to Residential rezonings application reviews that has Community Benefit as one of the considerations for required findings. 

    Two major projects to watch are Sobrato’s rezoning of the Willow Glen industrial land near Lincoln St by the existing Community Hospital site and the proposal to rezone the Flea Market site to residential in anticipation for BART to SJ.  Both are larger scale projects proposed by long-time SJ families who have a desire to help the community.  We need to form our own Friends of Pools community groups and start talking to Constant, Liccardo, Reed, Cortese, Pyle, and possibly Chirco to make this happen.

    Summer is coming.  Look how long it has taken the past administration to work on its Parks Master Plan (The Green Print).  We can afford to wait until Chuck’s 2nd term to address this issue.  We don’t need no more stinking MasterPlans we need action!

  21. #25 has really great point –  Part of financial responsibility for San Jose City Council s to stop giving away development approvals are worth millions for a few thousand in developer campaign contributions –  major conflict of interest for politicians

    Other cities require Development Agreements to give back to community by building – parks, pools, community centers etc as part of project approval

    Wake up San Jose – Development Agreements are worth millions – stop giving them away

  22. Mr. Rowen, the accusations that you make against Mayor Reed sound as though they might be coming from a former Chavez supporter.  Is your backyard vineyard still producing sour grapes?

  23. Ryland is an important site for community life and history,but the most glaring example of
    “falling through the cracks” is the potential for
    a 17 acre historically significant property located in one of the most openspace deprived
    areas of the city.

    The UC Extention site , the original location of Osborne Hall and the Home for the widows and children of Civil War Veterans, has been
    used for close to a century for agricultural and horicultural research by the State. This site offers the last large parcel of undeveloped agricultural land to be preserved for parks,pools,community gardens and a historic
    agricultural showcase. This site is being reviewed by SC to rezone it from agricultural
    to a residential-single family/high density mix.

    Now for the “falling through the cracks” story.

    First, the State owns the land but it must be transferred at sale to city jurisdiction-currently
    the City of SC, although this parcel borders San Jose on two sides. Should San Jose annex
    this parcel it would be in the middle of districts
    1 and 6. A very intricate process for sure but a
    very important decisions for quality of life for this area(ValleyFair is across the street and near SantanaRow-it sits on Winchester 2 blocks from StevensCreek Blvd) Both malls are expanding this year bringing more traffic congestion,noise and need for services -Do we
    want to aggravate this by adding 250-400 new residential units. There are no city parks in this
    northern reach of SJ District 6 now and allowing this last piece to fall through the cracks would be shameful. Most residents don’t
    even know about this-the property has been fenced and not visible from Winchester for over 80 years. More don’t know of it’s history
    and of those in office that can take action—none have done anything. District 6 does not have a councilperson currently, District 1 has a
    new one and the jurisidictional issues seem huge. So it is left to us to presevre this immense community resource and make clear
    that we need this openspace more than we need a few more dollars of profit. Please visit the site that will explain more and watch out for the BIG cracks.

    http://www.savebarec.org/

  24. I thought the city of Santa Clara was already making plans to go residential on the agricultural extension site.  Is there really a chance that it could be annexed to SJ instead?  Wouldn’t that be a long shot and a huge battle?  Would SJ really pursue this parcel just to turn it into a park?  If neither SC or SJ owns the property, why is SC putting so much planning energy into a parcel that SJ could end up annexing?  I’m not following the logic.

  25. San Jose has limited tax revenues to provide core city services and at Mayor’s neighborhood budget priority session 1 of Top 5 was

    – Provide full funding for parks, pools, community centers and libraries The phrase “full funding” was meant to reference enough funds to not only support the physical facilities, but also maintenance, operation and staffing for those facilities.

    Reopening Ryland, Mayfair, Biebrach, and Alviso our existing pools should be given top priority before constructing and staffing any new pools

    If city general operating funds are not available   then The Friends of Ryland Pool proposal to operate the pool is a great idea and should be strongly supported  

    We need to look very carefully at any new city construction proposals so as to not repeat the staffing and operating budget problems we still have with our new community centers where after constuction San Jose discovered it did not have operating funds or staff for 18 older centers which now have reduced hours, staff and there is a proposal to either closed centers if non profits or community groups do not take them over and operate.

    Many non profit or community groups also do not have operating funds to keep them open without city subsidies

    The most common suggested solution is the most problematic and could have negative impacts:  Further Raising sales taxes, user fees or increased costs especially if they are not competative with other local cites since any new taxes will have impacts on
    1) local businesses which could impact San Jose job creation and retention
    2) many residents ability to pay any new taxes especially regressive sales or user fee taxes

    The solution to many of San Jose’s city services challenges are 2 of the other Top 5 priorities

    1)  increase local San Jose based jobs which also generates more taxes than jobs use We have less jobs 93 per 100 employed residents compared to county average of 123 jobs
    2) increase general tax revenues without raising taxes by increasing retail sales tax revenues by having residents shop in San Jose rather than losing 20-25% of our sales taxes to other cities as well as look at other lost sources of existing taxes

    Having San Jose residents travel to other cities for jobs because we do not have adequate numbers of San Jose jobs for our residents results in many significant San Jose and county impacts – increased traffic congestion, highway, street and VTA costs, envirnomental pollution, with significant lost general and sales taxes resulting in reduced city services

  26. #31 Get real!!!  With all the more pressing needs facing the community for badly needed playfields and pools you want us to pay for a pipe dream that will mainly benefit an elitist faction of the master gardeners.  How come your group has not come forth with any real viable alternatives to acquire the site or committments for funding during the 5-yr period that Santa Clara has been working on this project. 

    We’ve heard about the Santa Barbara truck farm your spokeswoman has been prattling on about over and over for the past 5-yrs.  Talk is cheap! How about some of your group consider selling your high priced Rose Garden and Shasta-Hanchett McMansions to demonstrate you “committment to history” by starting an endowment to purchase the property.  Put your own money where your mouths have been.  Or better yet why don’t you take those dollars to really make a difference and invest in the 300-acre Marshall Cottle agricultural preserve on the corner of Branham and Snell. It badly needs volunteers and dollars to do the type of education and historic preservation that your group says it cares about.  It’s already been donated to SJ and the County, and all it needs are funds and volunteers to make the agricultural educational preserve a reality.  If you really want to value agriculture, as your materials and pamphlets claim, concentrate your efforts there.  Or could it be that, you think that site is too pedestrian for your elitist group because of the mainly blue-collar and middle class families who live nearby.  I’m calling you out and challenging your committment to the causes you claim to believe in.

    Additionally, in the interest of providing balanced information, you should also disclose that the development plans being considered by Santa Clara includes a one-acre public park that will benefit even the surrounding SJ residents who don’t have to pay for it,  comemorative displays to document the past uses of the site, 162 units of housing dedicated to seniors who are very-low and extremely low income, and 3 acres of new gardens tied to the senior housing development.  That’s 1/4 of the entire site as open space.  Additionally, the most important factor you left out is that the developer will clean up the pesticide contamination that was deposited over the 90 years that the site was used.  Without the proposed development, the site will remain fallow and there will be no funding mechanism identified to clean up the site.  Will your group do the required clean up.  Perhaps you’d like to expose San Jose residents to the financial liability of doing this clean up with our General Fund.  This is no small consideration given that SJ residents are already facing a huge and growing price tag to clean up the contamination of Watson Park.

  27. Well now you have exposed “the truth”.. that there would be a 1 acre park—although recent
    experience has show that the planning/developer team has wittled these types of space for parks in new developments
    down to 1/2 the original plan-a 1/2 acre park—Maybe room for a couple of families and 3 or 4
    chihuahuas.

    And your information about the 3 acres of “gardens” incorporated into the senior housing development is very shaky. This is not
    public park land it is private property. Let’s be
    careful here—if the “cleanup” of the fruit tree
    spraying is so onerous then why would Summerhill want to take this on.

    Oh, by the way, you forgot to include a few
    hundred single family Mansion-type homes for this land also—but maybe you just see the forest (of homes) for the trees.

  28. SG-there is an answer to your question-LEADERSHIP.  I attended one of the public meetings held by the city’s pool consultants and found the residents were asking the same questions. I believe that our city LEADERSHIP needs to/must make a committment to improve the quality of life. Good LEADERS do this. A Mayor and CPOUNCIL who LEAD the way can be San Jose’s answer. It is time!

    Thanks, LW.