The Breeze of Innovation, San Jose’s future landmark, will consist of hundreds of rods that generate electricity and light up at night. Photo courtesy of Urban Confluence of Silicon Valley.
The Breeze of Innovation, San Jose’s future landmark, will consist of hundreds of rods that generate electricity and light up at night. Photo courtesy of Urban Confluence of Silicon Valley.

    Growing up an immigrant from the United Kingdom, San Jose and the South Bay have always been a breath of fresh air compared to the larger cities and metropolitan areas I would later in life explore.

    To say we don’t have any world class landmarks isn’t true. We have the Lick Observatory, the “block” from the former military dish on top Mt. Umunhum, the Winchester Mystery House, and the two world class rose gardens. The reality is — we’re quaint. Sure, we’re THE original Silicon Valley; we’re massive urban sprawl. But that sprawl is blessed with beautiful mountain ranges to the east and west that wrap around and make us still feel like we’re just a 45 minute drive to redwood groves in the Santa Cruz hills, and a 20 minute drive to the calm predictable flow of the creeks that feed through Alum Rock or Almaden Quicksilver County Park.

    What people around here don’t seem to want is flashy gimmicks and eye sores. We take pride in the minimal number of giant digital advertising and billboards. This is why it’s time to let go of the “Breeze of Innovation,” a $100 million cacophony of giant PVC pipes planned for the Cesar Chavez Plaza in downtown San Jose.

    Thinking through the park, it’s very obvious they’re going to get rid of the ground fountain, and because it already has tubes, they’ll just slide it in there and call it a monument. It’s going to look tacky, and raise eyebrows how such a scaled down project cost such a ridiculous amount. But hear me out: What if those organizations took that money, and built a world class skatepark there instead?

    On an investment scale, it makes far more sense to encourage a plaza-like area where people are encouraged to bring personal transportation and ride the VTA. Young people aren’t going to flock to a park frequented by the city’s displaced and homeless just to see a bunch of tubes flow back and forth like a wacky inflated arm fan. But they will for a skatepark!

    Many are probably unaware of this, but during the pandemic, underneath the Highway 280/Almaden Expressway, a group of people had built a small skatepark, with ramps, jumps, poles, and even a half pipe. This is a tiny medium, but was a massive hit with the local youth. Everyday, they’d be out there, building it up, making it better. And then one day, the city rolled in, tore it all out, and just left an empty space. It shows that a small plaza like the ground fountain at the park is a perfect spot.

    Build something for these kids. Let them be young, and let them enjoy our parks. Don’t leave them with ugly legacies and wasted youth.

    Nicholas Morrish is a longtime San Jose resident.

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