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One day soon, when you are driving on Highway-87 past downtown San Jose, you’ll see bright rows of California poppies pointing the way to Guadalupe River Park & Gardens.
A new project, organized by the nonprofit Guadalupe River Park Conservancy and funded in part by $27,009 from the Open Space Authority’s Urban Grant Program, is working to both beautify this city park and clarify the boundaries with attractive and wildlife-friendly split rail wooden fencing, new signage, and native wildflowers.
The plan for 3,000 feet of fencing will delineate the borders of a 100-acre parcel of Guadalupe Gardens bounded by Coleman Ave. on the west, Hedding St. on the north, and Asbury St. on the south. This land was set aside to create a safe flight path and a "green gateway" of park space leading to the city center after the airport expanded in the 1970’s.
So far, the construction is two-thirds of the way done. They are currently working to complete the final stretch of fencing along Asbury St., install decorative signage along Coleman Ave. and Hedding St., and plant poppy seeds along the perimeter.
More than 50 volunteers have done this work, literally sowing the seeds to beautify and protect the park. The volunteer teams were led by longtime Guadalupe River Park Conservancy partners, and construction experts, Rebuilding Together and Habitat for Humanity. Other corporate and organizational teams including staff from San Jose Water, have volunteered their time to help out.
Volunteers from San Jose Water
While at first glance it seems like a quick and easy project - installing fencing and planting wildflower seeds - the team has realized the challenges of working in a busy urban area and on such a large parcel of land.
“We’re a small organization, and this is the biggest construction undertaking we’ve ever done with community members. In a lot of ways, this is a really valuable learning experience and proof that we can leverage community support and engage stakeholders in improving our parks,” said Joe Salvato, Deputy Director of the Guadalupe River Park Conservancy.
In the future, the Conservancy plans to add pathways and interpretive signage that will enhance the connectivity of this open space, and further engage neighbors and members of the community to create a longer-term vision for the park.
This project is another reminder of how lucky we are to have access to local urban open spaces like the Guadalupe River Park. These local parks allow us to get outdoors and enjoy nature close to home during this time of shelter in place. Large parks like this one, with more than 100 acres and a broad network of trails both across the park and along the Guadalupe River, offers lots of space to get outside and experience nature while social distancing.