San Jose closes dozens of parks after storms
Alum Rock Park is closed in light of stormy weather in recent weeks. Photo by Loan-Anh Pham.

    A historic amount of rain over a three-week period has closed 27 parks and trails throughout San Jose, and it’s unclear when they will reopen.

    Since Dec. 1, San Jose has received anywhere from 7.5 inches of rain in its downtown core to 16 inches near Almaden Lake, according to the National Weather Service. Rain coupled with strong winds resulted in fallen trees, mudslides and flooded waterways, closing some city parks indefinitely. Scattered branches and other debris need to be cleared, while trails and signs require maintenance.

    At the start of the year, the city declared a state of emergency and issued evacuation orders for homeless residents living near the creeks due to dangers posed by flooding.

    Alum Rock Park in East San Jose has the most damage, said Daniel Lazo, spokesperson for the city parks department. The damage is epitomized by the fallen Hollywood-esque sign at the front entrance.

    “There’s some mudslides that have been happening. Some trails have been blocked. Rocks are kind of covering these trails and stuff,” Lazo told San José Spotlight. “This needs either heavy equipment or maintenance staff to help clear (it) out.”

    Lazo said it could take weeks to clean out the debris before the park can reopen. Residents should avoid the area because the wet soil makes the ground unstable, which could lead to mudslides or falling rocks. He said people could also get lost in the park because the trails are no longer clear.

    “There have been a fair number of trespassers trying to enter the park during the emergency closure, which is extremely dangerous,” Lazo said. “We want to make sure our parks are safe for residents to use.”

    Other parks near waterways like Almaden Lake Park, Lake Cunningham Action Sports Park and Selma Olinder Park are also closed due to flooding. Guadalupe, Penitencia and Coyote creek trails are also partially closed.

    Downtown park closures include Roosevelt, Watson and William Street parks.

    Lazo said when these parks can reopen and damage costs will become clearer in a week or two. However, neighborhood parks are likely to open sooner.

    “(The city) is still taking inventory of the damages to all its facilities in order to reopen safely as soon as possible,” Lazo said.

    Matt Keller, spokesperson for Valley Water, said some localized flooding was expected through the storms, but Santa Clara County prepared as well as it could.

    “I don’t want to minimize the people who did suffer damage, but Santa Clara County as a whole did a good job of preparing themselves,” Keller told San José Spotlight. “Unfortunately, sometimes Mother Nature causes flooding and you get significant rain, but we always look to be prepared for the worst and I don’t think we saw the worst.”

    Click here to see a list of closed parks.

    To report park concerns, call the city at (408) 793-5510 or email [email protected]

    Contact Jana Kadah at [email protected] or @Jana_Kadah on Twitter.

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