Time to Quit Lollygagging

The issue of neighborhood parks is a hot one in the current
Gilroy City Council campaign, and has become hotter yet on this
Opinion page.
The issue of neighborhood parks is a hot one in the current Gilroy City Council campaign, and has become hotter yet on this Opinion page.

Despite the justifications and money woes and excuses presented by city officials whenever this topic arises, it’s a simple matter of priorities.

Here’s how things ought to be: When the city approves a new neighborhood that promises a park as an amenity, the park must be complete before the first residents unload the U-Haul.

It’s that simple. And if neighborhood parks were a real priority instead of a talking point and excuse generator, they’d be a reality in every new neighborhood instead of unfulfilled promises disappointing children for years.

Instead of the lofty, impractical and delay-inducing idea of having the neighbors decide what the park should look like after they’ve all taken up residence, instead, developers should tell neighbors what a subdivision’s park will offer and potential buyers can decide if the neighborhood is right for them.

We don’t wait to build streets until neighbors decide if the layout and names are just right, even though a subdivision’s residents walk and drive along them every day. Why should neighborhood parks be any different?

The city collects the fees from the developers up front. The parks should be built up front. Anything else is unfair, and frankly, smacks of poor ethics. When the situation is to the point that it is in Gilroy, with residents of one neighborhood the target of resentment because they seem to have jumped the neighborhood parks waiting line, you know you’ve got a serious problem.

Starting immediately, all new subdivisions with parks should be required to build them at the same time the houses are being built. And the city should do whatever it takes, including delaying the arts center, for example, to get parks built in neighborhoods that have been waiting for years.

It’s possible, let’s not forget, that building a park could be a negotiable item with a developer at the point of permit approval.

Frankly, city officials should be ashamed. It’s long past time that the city honored its neighborhood parks promises.

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