Citing a lack of playing fields in the Almaden Valley to serve the estimated 4,000 children who annually play soccer, softball and baseball, board members for those sports leagues have unveiled a vision to bring a “much needed” resource to the community.
At an April 18 presentation at the Almaden Community Center, the leagues asked the project team to consider adding playing fields to any alternative that contains park area. Dave Mitchell, parks planning manager from the city of San Jose’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services and Rayshelle Brant from San Jose City Councilman Johnny Khamis’ office also attended the meeting.
Board members with the Almaden Valley Youth Soccer Association, Almaden Valley Girls Softball League and Almaden Little League presented the image below as a possible option. It adds three baseball/softball diamonds and four soccer fields to the mix of Feasible Alternative #5, which calls for new park and open space to the east and west sides of a restored Alamitos Creek.
“We just want to get the issue on paper so that moving forward, if this results in some additional turf, we want it known that it’d be a great spot for youth sports fields,” said Mark Osborn, a board member with the Almaden Little League.
The presentation is indicative of the range of stakeholders who have an interest in the new design for the 32-acre water body. Some people want to keep as much of the lake’s water features as possible, while reps for the leagues see an opportunity to fill a void.
“Use of the lakes for swimming and fishing was minimal when it was open for those activities. Other nearby lakes, such as Vasona, provide better recreational opportunities,” said Andrew Hogg, Youth Soccer Association board member and field liaison director. “And the current shortage of playing fields in Almaden Valley needs a solution that is geographically close to those children who are participating.”
A 2008 Community Sports Field Study for the city of San Jose concluded that the city “did not have a sufficient number of fields” to”meet the sports needs of the community, prompting it to enter into a partnership with the San Jose Unified School District to utilize their grounds for games. According to the league’s power point presentation to the water district project team, the leagues use 11 schools for soccer, six for baseball and three for softball diamonds. Only one field used for soccer, at TJ Martin Park, is a city sponsored field.
“It comes down to the fact that there are no parks within the Almaden area zip code that can house actual sports fields. We just don’t have enough to accommodate all who want to play,” Osborn said.
The project team of Rechelle Blank and Ngoc Nguyen advised the leagues to work with the city of San Jose’s Park and Recreation staff, Park and Recreation Commission and city council to identify those possible recreational uses since the city is the lead agency for items related to parks and recreation.
Should the option calling for expanded open space emerge as a favored alternative, the city would work with the water district, providing it their plan for future recreational use and cost sharing ideas for conducting a California Environmental Equality Act evaluation as part of any joint use agreement.