San Jose is looking to fill empty downtown lots with three new parks in an effort to revitalize a long-neglected part of the city.
City officials proposed two new parks Tuesday, tentatively called Basset Park and North San Pedro Park. Both are approximately two blocks away from San Pedro Square centered around North San Pedro and Bassett Streets as well as soon-to-be under construction Pellier Park.
“We are happy there are going to be more parks in our neighborhood,” said resident Tessa Williamson, who suggested including a community garden. “We’re not putting our money where our mouth is in regards to open space.”
The parks are part of a new planned neighborhood comprised of an estimated 3,000 townhomes and apartments. Of those units, 1,129 are currently under construction, according to city documents. The project is expected to cost between $3 million to $4 million. Hundreds of units already surround the proposed sites, along with small businesses a few blocks away.
Pellier Park is inspired by plum orchards that used to be cultivated in the area. North San Pedro Park will have areas for small and large gatherings, while Bassett Park will be an “active” park with climbing walls, fitness equipment, a playground and exercise trails. Located under the Coleman Avenue bridge, Bassett Park will use a mix of shade from the bridge and strategically planted trees to keep activity stations cool year-round.
“Adding new parks supports better access for the community and creates a great opportunity to expand our recreational offerings,” said Charlotte Graham, a spokesperson for the city’s Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services.
City officials said small parks like the ones proposed are vital for residents who don’t live near green spaces. The city opened an online survey for nearby residents and a held series of public meetings in late 2018 and early 2019 where locals asked for landscaping, park activities and public art.
Pellier Park will break ground once the San Jose City Council approves a construction contract for the project at a May 4 meeting. Names for the other two parks, along with a timeline for construction, will be considered at a later date.
Councilmember Raul Peralez said green developments in the North San Pedro area have been a long time coming for the neighborhood, which has been “a barren set of empty parcels and some empty buildings” for some time.
“To be able to transform it and have that opportunity and be able to map out ideas like this… has been exciting,” Peralez said.