GETTING OUT: Nonprofit helping to keep Henry Coe open

GETTING OUT: Nonprofit helping to keep Henry Coe open

Since the sad announcement that 70 California State Parks will
close to narrow state budget shortfalls, there have been gobs of
questions and reams of misinformation. When the phone rings at
Henry Coe State Park east of Morgan Hill, the caller’s first
question is likely to be,

Are you open?

The answer is a resounding

Yes,

and if the friends of the park have their way, the park will
never close.
Since the sad announcement that 70 California State Parks will close to narrow state budget shortfalls, there have been gobs of questions and reams of misinformation. When the phone rings at Henry Coe State Park east of Morgan Hill, the caller’s first question is likely to be, “Are you open?” The answer is a resounding “Yes,” and if the friends of the park have their way, the park will never close.

When will park closures happen? How do you close 87,000 acres or any large open space? Are there ways to keep these parks open? Even if you were to ask Department of Parks and Recreation director Ruth Coleman questions about what the state park landscape will look like in a year, the answer is likely to be, “I don’t know.” This has never happened before, and it raises many questions that will only be answered as the process unfolds.

While little is known for sure, here is a foggy view into the future of our own Henry W. Coe State Park.

In a government bureaucracy, it takes time to do anything, including close a park. There are prescribed procedures for firing and reassigning personnel and all the other tasks necessary to shutter our parks. As things now stand, Coe Park is open, but it is scheduled to close by the end of the 2011-12 fiscal year, or June 30, 2012. Sadly, a solution to the budget problem appears to be years away, leaving a grim outlook for the future of Coe Park. Once closed, no one knows how long the park will remain closed.

This threat has been lurking for some time, and dedicated friends of Coe Park have not been sitting on their hands. They have banded together to create the Coe Park Preservation Fund, a nonprofit organization committed to creating an endowment fund that will finance park operations in the absence of state revenues. In partnership with the state, the CPPF will seek sponsorship from Bay Area corporations and foundations as well as the support of concerned individuals to meet the basic expenses to keep Coe Park open. While this is a huge task, the CPPF feels it is an attainable goal.

If you think that the only thing at stake in closing Coe Park is losing access to a wild and beautiful place, visit www.coeparkfund.org and read the testimonials of children, teachers and group leaders whose lives have been changed by the programs that bring young people to the park. With support from the Packard Foundation, Coe has partnered with the Gilroy Summer Learning Program to bring hundreds of at-risk middle school Gilroy kids, many of whom had never left the city limits, up to the wilds of the park. Coe Connections has brought school kids to the park for years. A variety of organizations bring kids to this huge wilderness, three times the size of San Francisco, to build the character and confidence that only time in the outdoors provides.

Read the testimonials. Watch the video. See what’s at stake.

If you love our parks, or if you never visit parks but you value the maturity and wisdom that growing minds gain in nature, step up and speak out. The CPPF website will help you find your state legislators. Write them and tell them you’re angry.

And remember, Coe Park is open. If you love the park, visit it. If you haven’t discovered how great peace and quiet feels under a canopy of ponderosa pines, pack a lunch and take the short walk up to Eric’s Bench near Coe headquarters. They’ll have to drag you back down.

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