Do we really need
Pastor Ben David
San Jose Library
Pear trees on Alum Rock Ave.
|NNV Editorial: Gallant Neighbors Generously Donate Time and Talents to Improve ARUSD|
|Watch Your Mail Box for Mail-In Library Measures Ballot - Help Alum Rock Library|
|Pombo’s Road: $2 million to study unrealistic,
ineffective “solution” by Scott Restivo|
$2 million for study a waste of taxpayers' money by Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren
|Notable Neighbor: Eastside Pastor, Writer, Political Commentator ... by Gay Southwell|
|Will the New Alum Rock Library Still Be “Alum Rock Library” When the Dust Settles?|
|Alum Rock Avenue – A History by Patricia Loomis|
|Dr. Seuss Books Turn Fifty/Kids Still Think They’re Nifty - Read Across America|
|The Foundation (AREF) Hosts Community Party at NHU Library to Aid ARUSD Kids|
|East Hills Preschool Receives Grant for Butterfly Habitat|
|L.U.C.H.A. - An Ambitious New Small Autonomous Elementary School|
|Canis latrans: America’s – and Alum Rock Park’s – Barking Dog by Dorothy "D.J." Johnson|
|You Dig It?|
|Mississippi Missives - “Strong anti-Christian sentiments” in Bay Area by Ed Allegretti|
|FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)|
How many times have you read about a wealthy school district and the special offerings it can provide for its students because the community is affluent and organized? And have you sometimes felt that it wasn’t quite fair that kids in such comfortable communities get such a gold-plated start in life when youngsters in less well-heeled school districts suffer cut-backs, shortened class days and overwhelmed teachers? Have you ever thought that “someone” should do something about such inequities?
Well, someone has! But you may not yet know that the Alum Rock Educational Foundation even exists because it takes time for word to get around – especially in our information-clogged twenty-first century lives. The Foundation is now five years old and has many stellar achievements under its collective belt, but it’s still one of San Jose’s proverbial “best-kept secrets.”
While our Eastside community has gone about our nose-to-the-grindstone existence, the non-profit Foundation has written grants, raised more than a million dollars, and set up educational support projects for children in the beleaguered Alum Rock Union Elementary District. They have facilitated the Even Start program to aid disadvantaged families in helping to learn English language and parenting skills. They have shepherded music programs and science workshops.
They are primed to do more. This small group of community leaders is ready to help out in our needy school district to bring a richness of choices to our students such as kids have in prosperous areas. They want to establish and expand enrichment programs and activities throughout the school district.
Who are the members of the Foundation? They are community leaders, educators, business people, scientists, scholars and ordinary parents – all generous enough to want a better education for rich and poor alike – and willing to give their time and talents to make good things happen. Their dream is that our community can get behind our schools and students by supporting AREF in its endeavors to improve, enhance and advance education – so that all children can reach their potential.
AREF is co-sponsoring a major fundraising event, "Alum Rocks Again," with the Alum Rock Jazz Program on June 17th at Le Petit Trianon in downtown San Jose. Please mark your calendar and watch the NNV Community Bulletin Board for more information. You can call the Foundation at (408) 727-6898 or click here for their Web site. Want to support the Foundation’s work by making a tax-deductible donation? You can send checks to AREF, 775 Comstock Street, Santa Clara, CA 95054.
The New Alum Rock Library will be opening this summer. This does not mean the Santa Clara County Library no longer needs the tax dollars it takes to run a library for the Alum Rock Community. The new library will be owned and operated by the City of San Jose with funding from both San Jose and Santa Clara County Libraries tax dollars. Without your support, reduced hours and services will continue.
This month, County residents who live in the Alum Rock Area will receive a mail-in ballot with two measures to determine the future of the County libraries. Ballots will be mailed April 4 and are due back by May 3. The first measure will ask voters to continue the current funding of the library. The second measure will ask for a slight increase to bring back lost hours and services.
Community members with questions about the parcel tax or who wish to help with fundraising activities are encouraged to contact the campaign at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Our Libraries need your help: http://savesccl.org/index.html
Thank you for your support!
Information on Funding for the Alum Rock Library
NNV Note: To balance the state budget, library funds have been usurped since 1992. If both new measures pass (by 2/3 majority), services and hours recently cut will be restored.
Beginning in 1992 local property tax revenue has been taken every year from counties, cities and special districts, including libraries, to balance the State budget. The Santa Clara County Library experienced a 44% cut in revenue resulting in cuts to hours, books and staff; today $10.7 million is taken annually from County Library property taxes. In 1994, voters approved by over a two-thirds majority vote an annual parcel assessment to fund the Alum Rock Library, a Santa Clara County Library. This ten-year assessment expires in June. It currently accounts for $5.4 million or 20% of the annual operating budget.
Voters have an opportunity to continue the support in two ballot measures this month.
Measure A will continue the current $33.66 annual tax to maintain current services. If the funding does not continue, our library will face additional closures and service reductions, including cuts in hours, books, story times, literacy programming, and bookmobile services.
Measure B will increase the annual tax by $1 per month. This funding restores the library hours, materials, and services that were recently cut. Measure B only can go into effect if Measure A passes.
Both of these measures will be considered by our community in an upcoming special mail-in ballot election. On April 4th registered voters will be mailed a ballot that must be returned and received no later than May 3rd, 8 pm, to the Office of the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters. A two-thirds majority vote is required to pass the measures.
Every dollar that taxpayers in our community pay will be returned to the operation of the Alum Rock Library. All Measure A and B funds generated in Alum Rock stay local for the benefit of the Alum Rock Library.
Rep. Richard Pombo has proposed a new six-lane highway over the Diablo Range from San Jose's Alum Rock area to Patterson in the Central Valley as a solution for commuters stuck on the Altamont Pass. A feasibility study of Pombo's proposed highway is earmarked for $2 million in the $284 Billion Transportation Bill passed in March by the House.
However, Pombo's proposal is unworkable, expensive, and environmentally destructive. It would be damaging to the land and wildlife of the Diablo Range, to the important astronomic research at Lick Observatory, and to the neighborhoods of the Alum Rock area. The east side of San Jose would be torn up by having a six-lane highway running through it.
Pombo is taking the "big dig" approach. He sees traffic on the Altamont Pass and the Pacheco Pass and concludes the answer is a new highway over the Diablo Range. This is an old-style approach, where the solution is always more roads and sprawl, and the natural environment be damned. One editorial praised Pombo for "thinking big" but actually big thinking would mean finding more creative solutions, not the same old fixes that lead to more pollution, sprawl, and despoiling of our lands.
Another approach to the problem is needed, one that is more nuanced and balanced, and ultimately more effective. This approach looks for other solutions besides just paving more and more of the landscape. People thinking this way look at other, less invasive routes, such as Pacheco Pass improvements and upgrading Highway 84 through Livermore; mass transit upgrades; housing close to jobs (meaning more good jobs in the Central Valley); affordable housing in the South Bay; and other alternatives.
The cost of Pombo's proposed highway will be in the billions. Some people have put the figure as high as $25 billion, since a road like this would need massive grade improvements and possibly tunnels. That much money would be better spent on more realistic and effective transportation improvements. Not only is Pombo's idea expensive, it actually does a disservice to commuters. By spending time and money studying a far-fetched scheme like this, commuters are given false hope while real solutions are put off or underfunded. We need solutions now and in the near future, not a proposal that is, as a recent San Jose Mercury News editorial labeled it, "a fantasy".
It is apparent that Pombo's time in Congress has not helped his District solve the commute or job situation. The 2004 Democratic candidate, Jerry McNerney, proposed new job development in renewable energy and other low impact industries in the Tracy, Stockton and Manteca areas. In other words, bringing good-paying, creative jobs to the area was part of McNerney's platform right from the start of his campaign. However, Pombo has been in office since 1992 and, apparently, little progress has been made for the betterment of the people of his District. If he had been doing his job instead of working vigorously to overturn every environmental protection we have, the problem with the commute may have already been greatly ameliorated, or at least not the problem it is now.
Instead, we have him proposing an unrealistic and unworkable solution. Even if we assume, in a best case scenario, that the road is successful and the commute is indeed shorter, this would just encourage people to move to the lower cost housing of the Central Valley, furthering sprawl and pollution. These new Central Valley residents would be taking the highway back to their jobs in Silicon Valley. Traffic from the many new developments that will spring up in the Patterson area will all be funneled onto this new road. The highway would be jammed at either end as the traffic joins with already busy roads -- I-5 on one side or I-680 on the other. How is all this new traffic going to merge gracefully with these roads? In a very short time, the commute will once again be bogged down and we will have Altamont Pass II.
What would Pombo do then, suggest another road? Well, I strongly hope that we will not have to worry about that, since by then the people of the 11th District will have woken up and voted Pombo out -- for the sake of the District and for the sake of the environment.
Click here to see where Representative
Pombo proposes to build his new parkway. Click
here to read about his plan for Highway 130 (that's Alum Rock Avenue and Mt.
Hamilton Road) to be "realigned and widened."
NNV Note: Scott Restivo is a computer programmer who lives in San Ramon, part of the 11th Congressional District. He helps run the www.VotePomboOut.org website, which seeks to inform citizens about Rep. Pombo's on-going crusade against many of our most important environmental laws and regulations.
NNV Note: NNV requested a position statement from Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren regarding Representative Richard Pombo's proposed highway over the Mount Hamilton Range. Here's her reply:
"I believe that spending taxpayers' money to study a six-lane highway over the Mount Hamilton Range is a waste. I spent ten years on the Santa Clara County Traffic Authority building Highways 85, 237 and upgrading Highway 101. I learned a lot about highway building. The Mount Hamilton proposal would be too expensive to build and would also be environmentally unacceptable.
We'd be a lot better off spending the study money finishing the gap between Highway 152 and 101, or improving the train over the Altamont pass."
Representative Zoe Lofgren, 16th District
(408) 271-8713 - fax
635 N. First Street, Suite B
San Jose, CA 95112
www.house.gov/lofgren (Click on "E-mail Zoe" at the left on her Home page to send her an e-mail).
Caskey Country Club Properties, Call Larry and Barbara Caskey at (408) 926-5400
E.M.S. LLC, Environmental
Management Systems, (408) 501-4200
Windermere Silicon Valley
Properties, (408) 251-5860
Keith Bush, Artist/Sculptor, (408) 923-6666, www.keithbush.org
The financial planning firm PW
Papier, (408) 747-1222
Finest French Pastries, Country Club Plaza
Robin Edwards, Inc., Engineering
Contractor, (408) 244-4791
Goals were made, attitudes were formed, and a man who walks, works, and writes on the east side of San Jose has had a very interesting life.
He was born in Palo Alto, raised in Mendocino, and knew by fourth grade that he wanted to be a minister. He was an exchange student to the Dominican Republic where he developed a world view and perfected his Spanish. He attended Westmont College in Santa Barbara. He wrote a weekly column in the college newspaper on social and political issues. He had an internship in San Francisco to help refugees from Guatemala and El Salvador. This continued his interest in helping people and understanding their plights. He attended Princeton Seminary and then returned to California to be a Presbyterian pastor.
About whom do I write? Ben Daniel, the minister at Foothill Presbyterian Church.
He finds being a minister wonderful, gratifying, and he is honored to be a part of people’s lives and to be involved with the San Jose community. He really likes leading the worship service and reading and preparing his sermons. He served the Presbyterian church in Gonzalez, CA for four years, and he has been at Foothill Presbyterian Church for over seven years.
Writing is his hobby. He is often heard on KQED radio reading his political or social commentaries. He loves language. His grandmother was a college English professor in the 1920s, and his father is a writer and was a Wallace Stegner fellow at Stanford.
He has been married to his wife, Anne, for 13 years. In the last two years they have adopted two daughters from China, Mimi three years and Nellie just turned one year old. They are expecting a new baby in June. (Three children all age three or under!!!) We will look forward to his commentaries on these new facets of his life.
Click here for a photo of Rev. Daniel and his wife Anne and their children.
About twenty-five Eastsiders hurried through their dinners to attend the March 9th meeting of the San Jose Library Commission. To make it easy for neighborhood library aficionados to go to bat for the name they want to hang on our new library facility, the meeting was conveniently held at the Alum Rock Youth Center.
The name “The Dr. B. Roberto Cruz Library” had already somewhat mysteriously been floated before most folks knew that it was time to submit names. The Cruz name, to commemorate the late founder of The National Hispanic University, was even printed on the meeting agenda. Reading “PUBLIC HEARING – On naming the new branch library at Alum Rock and White Roads ‘The Dr. B. Roberto Cruz Library’” gave many attendees a sense that the naming was a done deal and that they and their name preference had been cut off at the knees. Ouch!
But, not to worry! While it is true that a loyal fan of Dr. Cruz beat everyone else to the draw and submitted his name well ahead of the pack, he didn’t get a lock on the naming rights. He felt very strongly that there are already “too many things named Alum Rock” and that “the community needs more Latino role models for our children.” He had met Dr. Cruz in 2000 and was truly motivated by him, he said.
Several women also stood up and made their case for naming the library after Dr. Cruz. One lady said that Dr. Cruz has earned the memorial and that it’s important for the younger generation to know of him. A mother-daughter pair (mom a 49 year Eastside resident who was part of the original group which kept the old Alum Rock Library going when it was threatened, and daughter a student at NHU) enthusiastically shared their admiration and love for Dr. Cruz.
And then, several neighbors stressed the importance of citing the location of the library in its name. “It would be difficult to find the ‘B. Roberto Cruz Library’ without a mention of Alum Rock in the name,” they said and there was a great nodding of heads. And someone not afraid of a little political tension suggested that the library retain the Alum Rock name and “an important room or space in the library be named for Dr. Cruz.”
From the back row, came a new suggestion suddenly, “How about honoring Ernesto Galarza?” – referring to a bi-lingual education pioneer with local roots. And another voice spoke up with a fine dissertation on why the library should be named “La Pala Rancheria Branch Library” to reflect the history of our community.
After ten folks had their say, the Commissioners led by David Cohen, held their “Discussion and Recommendation” session. One said she was impressed with the “tone of compromise” among the attendees (hooray for Eastside library supporters’ polite demeanor!) One commissioner became very enthusiastic about the La Pala name and mentioned that National Hispanic University itself will probably be renamed for Dr. Cruz sometime in the future (good point!). Most of the commissioners bandied about names which included “Cruz” and “Alum Rock,” but when two votes were taken – one for “Dr. Roberto Cruz/Alum Rock Branch” and one for plain Jane “Alum Rock Branch Library” (with a recommendation that the library’s Community room be named for Dr. Cruz), the latter passed with six yeas, one nay and two abstentions.
However (and you knew there’d be a however, right?), Commissioner Cohen was quick to point out that the Commission’s recommendation goes next to the San Jose City Council where it may or may not be accepted. He counseled those who were disappointed by the recommendation not to give up hope and those who “won” their choice not to count on it. City Library Director Jane Light says that the question of naming the branch will probably be on the City Council’s agenda on April 12th or 19th. District 5 Councilmember reportedly favors a library moniker with both the Cruz name and Alum Rock in it.
Before the guests departed and the commissioners went on with their business meeting, a tiny aside from David Cohen made all the future Alum Rock library users thrill with pleasure. He related that he had a sneak peek inside the under-construction library during the second week of March. “It’s just spectacular inside!” said he.
Click here for a photo of Commissioner Cohen and his cohorts. Click here for our Letter to the Editors page to read what others think the name of our new library should be.
Waiting until the grand opening (early in July?) is not going to be easy. Meanwhile, you can read about the brand new Berryessa Branch Library Grand Opening below to see what we can expect in a modern new library.
Click here for the New San Jose Libraries Web page and choose Alum Rock Branch Library at the bottom to track the progress on “our” library.
NNV Note: Neighbor Patricia Loomis wrote many superb articles for a series called “Signposts” about the stories behind the names of San Jose’s streets. The first increment of the series ran in the San Jose News between 1971 and 1977 and was compiled and republished by the San Jose Historical Museum Association in a hardbound book of the same name in 1982. NNV will be reprinting some of the Signpost pieces which were written about our venerable Eastside streets, beginning, of course, with our historic main thoroughfare, Alum Rock Avenue. These stories are used with permission. Special thanks to Patricia Loomis for letting NNV use her stories - and to Carol Schultz for lending us the Signposts books.
Dorothy had her "yellow brick road" that led to the Emerald City in the Land of Oz, and San Joseans of yesterday had a red brick road leading to a magical land of mineral springs and legendary bandit caves.
Although the red bricks long ago were paved over, the road is there, its "Signposts" carrying the name of Alum Rock avenue.
Time was when it had double rows of trees marching east from Capitol avenue up the hill to Alum Rock Park, named for the 200-foot high rock of alum near its entrance.
A set of railroad tracks once stretched much of its length, turning north at Kirk avenue and running along Toyon avenue to the lower park entrance on the Penitencia Creek.
The eucalyptus trees, planted from seed brought by ship from Australia in 1882, are gone, the last of them cut down in 1960 when the avenue was widened. Most of the pines which lined the avenue up the hill east of White road are also gone.
Arborists say a Monterey pine is old if it's been around even 75 years, and these along the avenue lived a long life, surviving smothering pavement, insect infestations, smog and 80-some hot, dry summers.
Although there had been a road there for years, the avenue was officially established by the County Board of Supervisors in 1866, and in 1872 the State Legislature set down provisions for the City of San Jose to survey and improve the road to the "city reservation," as the park was called.
It also provided a governor-appointed board of commissioners to superintend laying out the park and construction of the road. Commissioners named were Gen. Henry M. Naglee, Edward McLaughlin, Dr. A. J. Spencer, Adolph Pfister and D. S. Payne.
A 10-cent tax was levied to finance what was then called "Santa Clara avenue."
Specifications for the road called for it to be "100 feet wide and bordered on each side by two rows of evergreen trees."
Andrew Jackson Fowler planted the seeds in his nursery in Evergreen (Fowler road), and two years later set out the little fast-growing trees (mostly the common "blue gum").
Lyle Decker, retired assistant road commissioner who has lived in the area many years (Decker Way), recalls the gum trees were planted from King road to Jackson avenue, and from Capitol avenue to White road. In between were elms, and east of White were pines planted by Gen. Naglee.
The bricks were used on the steep slopes to prevent horses from slipping.
The section of the avenue from the San Jose city limits up to and including Mt. Hamilton road became State Route 130.
Click here for a photo from Joan Destro of Alum Rock Avenue inundated by an early 1950’s flood.
There seem not to be children anywhere who don’t love to have an adult read to them. Kids at Cureton, Linda Vista and McCollum elementary schools were no exception when early in March a passel of volunteer readers descended on their schools and treated them to good old-fashioned Mother-style reading as part of the “Read Across America” observance being held throughout the country to promote love of reading. Two volunteers even ascended the mountain to visit the one-room school on Mt. Hamilton and read to the children there from an assortment of story books including several quite Seuss-ian.
A vanful of readers - Tanya Freudenberger, Trilby Gilbert, Terri Callejo and your NNV editor, arrived at McCollum Elementary early-ish that Wednesday morning (well, early-ish for your slug-a-bed editor anyway), got their marching orders, and fanned out to read to eight classrooms over the next hour or so.
The children were utterly rapt. Of course, it probably didn’t hurt that the readers were taking the kids away from math or spelling, but the youngsters’ far-away into-the-story expressions demonstrated their deep pleasure at being read to, just for fun.
Each of the schools was hip-deep in Dr. Seuss lore (2005 marks fifty years of Dr. Seuss fun) and there were many striped Cat-in-the-Hat hats on many a staffer. Principal Marcella Fehely at Linda Vista school stopped to pose fetchingly for the NNV camera wearing hers. Trilby and your editor each read to two classes at Linda Vista. Tanya and Terri went on to Cureton.
Before Tanya and Trilby picked up volunteer reader Chris Morrow and clambered aboard Tanya’s van for the stomach-churning ride up Mt. Hamilton Road, the four volunteers compared notes on the morning’s reading experiences. Everyone was practically misty-eyed at the warm reception received from the ultra-polite (yes!) kids who listened so avidly to every word. It was a pleasure.
Thank you, National Education Association, for organizing this outstanding annual event!
Click here for a photo of Principal Marcella Fehely in her Cat-in-the-Hat hat and the volunteer reading team.
(This newsletter is in two sections to reduce the download time for this page)
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Copyright© 2005 by Judy Thompson, 16174 Highland Drive, San Jose, CA 95127
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Copyright© 2005 by Judy Thompson. All rights reserved. Updated 4/13/05.