San Jose Controversy Over Private Funding of Public Park

Councilman Pete Constant defended the renovations, and the school's payment for them.

By Damian Trujillo, Julie Putman and Lisa Fernandez
|  Monday, Aug 6, 2012  |  Updated 2:07 PM PDT
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SJ Controversy Over Private Funding of Public Park

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A San Jose man has filed suit against the city, alleging that its building of a fence and remodeling a public park will "diminish not enhance" the 11-acre John Mise Park and also violates the city charter.

Pete Campbell filed a request for injunctive relief  Friday in Santa Clara County Superior Court, directly opposing the city's plan to build a new turf soccer and softball field, a 30-space parking lot, a fence and an expanded sports field at John Mise Park. While it is not  mentioned in the suit, Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose is expected to pay $3.5 million for the park's improvements, so that the school can use the park during certain hours.

But in an interview with NBC Bay Area, Councilman Pete Constant defended the renovations, and the school's payment for them.

“This is an improvement to this park that many neighborhoods have been begging for years.  This is a major improvement,” Constant said.  “They’re (Mitty) paying over $300,000 of investment into the field and in exchange for the rental fee they will be doing the maintenance of the entire park.”

In return, Mitty gets exclusive use of the park Mondays through Fridays between 2:45 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

Despite that the city claims the renovations will better this public area in the western part of the city, Campbell's suit alleges that many sports and activities will no longer be able to be held at the park because the steel posts and fencing "would preclude this activity." Campbell's suit states that cricket, flag football, Frisbee golf, volleyball and kite-flying would also negatively be affected.

How can the park be enhanced, the suit asks, when "Mise Park will be reduced in size, San Jose residents' access to the park will be reduced, and steel posts and barrier fencing will prevent the enjoyment and performance of certain sports and recreational activities?"

The suit has stirred up emotions from the youth as well.

Eighth-grader Isham Sharma began collecting signatures to stop the project.

 “It’s a local park," he said, "so residents around the park should have a say in what’s happening with the park itself.”

City Attorney Rick Doyle said the city has not been served, and earth movers should arrive by Aug. 13 to begin the work, unless there is a court order not to.
 

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