Local, alternative perspective. Insightful stories for the Santa Clara Valley.

SJ WILLOW STREET PARK CONTRASTS BLIGHTED COMPONENTS WITH BRIGHT IMPROVEMENTS

 

Over last year, Willow Street Park (aka Frank Bramhall Park) has received many improvements — and there may be a few more — but, there’s still a few things that seemingly need attention.

Just over the last year, this park has seen improvements to its amphitheater, little league baseball field, lighting fixtures, ground area with addition of mulch and so on.

This year, June 2014, the Shakespeare in the Park returned for a theatrical production of The Taming of the Shrew, interpreted with a California 1960s beach party theme.

One of the more noticeable improvements to Willow Street Park was during last summer 2013, when many residents were surprised with the introduction of evening theater performances. May of that year, new lighting and infrastructure were added to the amphitheater area; therby, allowing the Shady Shakespeare Company to perform just after the Fourth of July. This venue always had a large amphitheater; but, it was never developed beyond its original cut-out stage.

Indeed, some residents may not realize that the amphitheater is practically natural in its design, since it was originally a creek bed from years ago, before this section was dammed-off for the building of the intersection of Glen Eyrie Drive and Willow Street.

So… this amphitheater is ironically part of the old Willow Glen ecology, as much as its one of the many landmarks along the modern-day county trail system that’s to be further realized within the parks and recreation system. For example, when arriving at the intersection of Glen Eyrie Drive and Willow Street, there’s a recently improved cross-walk and pedestrian light signal; but, also — very recently as of July — an addition of a “sharrow,” or shared lane marking for bicycles. That’s because, nowadays, the trail from along Los Gatos Creek actually finds its continuity running parallel to the creek that’s behind the houses on Glen Eyrie Drive. Indeed, the Los Gatos Creek was diverted from modern-day Glen Eyrie Drive and Willow Street Park to Meridian Avenue; which is where the trail entrance now exists at Curci Drive. Before the area was settled, Los Gatos Creek ran into the area where you now see Shakespeare in the Park. Thank today’s City Council-member Oliverio and Parks and Recreation Department for the addition of theater and infrastructure; but, thank Frank Bramhall for having the vision of a park, amidst the craze of 1950’s suburbanization.

The addition of a cross-walk to the Willow Street Amphitheater represents a junction point for today’s trail-lovers, who have a choice when arriving in Willow Glen: (1) going from Meridian to Willow Street, then continuing down that thruway; or (2) turning at Glen Eyrie and continuing to follow along Los Gatos Creek. Both these routes go to Lincoln Avenue, anyway; but its easy to take a rest at the park, if not a shortcut through the park (turn out at Camino Ramon to back out to Willow for Lincoln Avenue… the amphitheater was at the right.) Thank neighborhood stakeholders and San Jose Department of Transportation for safe and livable street improvements.

Everyday, residents come to Willow Street Park to enjoy its traditional features, aside from the new ones, like: new large charcoal grills, a bocce ball court, a greater little league baseball field and so on.

Just recently, senior citizens were seen making a trial game of bocce ball at the new court that’s adjacent to the tennis courts and along side the picnic area and playground.   It was only earlier last year that some people were confusing the park’s additional lawn bowling court for bocce ball; but, now (go figure…) the park has both.

The law bowling court has been at Willow Street Park for years, fenced off and kept manicured for scheduled use by its club of fans; but it was just this last year that a great fallen oak had alarmed everyone thereabouts its midst.  The tree just at the front of the lawn bowling court must have been nearly 100 years old or so, when it suddenly decided to crack and come crashing down.  Some of those tree limbs came onto the court, while others onto cars that were parked along Camino Ramon.

Since that time of the fallen great oak — which occurred as of 1st of June 2013 — there has yet to be a replacing arbor in that spot.   Here, there’s no old oak trees tied with yellow-ribbons in remembrance of their lost one.   It takes years for an oak to become one of San Jose’s distinguished “Century Trees,” whereas one loss is significant.  (It’s a question, perhaps, why many of these are not registered century trees, like those at Palm Haven neighborhood, nearby.)  Meanwhile, no new tree has been planted, although the remaining ones have been recently pruned.

Back in January 2014, the year started with the care of these old and beautiful oaks, many of which stand amidst giant California Redwoods (the state’s official tree).   Recent tree maintenance is as much about conservation, as it also set stage for further park improvements by spring and summer of 2014.

Thereafter some grounds maintenance, San Jose Parks, Recreation & Neighborhood services finally replaced the old and outdated small grills, thus providing a new lot of up-sized and better features for outdoor cooking.  As of the summer, the new large and deep charcoal grills seem to be a big success with visitors.   There’s even charcoal disposal boxes for use when done with the meal.  These new grill and picnic area amenities are similar in standard as those seen at Vasona and Almaden Lake Park; but, at this park, there’s the added benefit of a natural arbor canopy.

Nearby residents appear happy with all these improvements — and there may be more soon to come — but, there’s still a few other things in obvious need of attention.  Aside from constant care for the old trees, plus maintenance of the mulch and soil conditions around them, there’s also an outlying structural issues.

Along side Willow Street, between Camino Ramon and the tennis courts, is a longstanding building that houses restrooms, a small recreation office and storage.  This structure has been there for years, but quite obviously needs a new roof.  Taking a look at the building, it’s hard not to notice that the roof shingles are worn-out, curled, brittle and shedding.  This is more than likely not a small cost to repair or replace; but, it’s easy to fathom that a roof does protect the greater investment underneath it.

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