San Jose’s Columbus Park May Be Headed for a New Name

For an explorer who has never been to California, Christopher Columbus has sparked a lot of controversy in San Jose recently.

You can expect the latest to center around Columbus Park, a 10-acre site south of Mineta San Jose International Airport that has quite a history spanning the past 75 years. But its future will be determined by a “reimagining” project commissioned by the city’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services—which potentially includes renaming the park, removing its association with the disgraced European explorer.

This will follow the removal of the Columbus statue from San Jose City Hall in 2018 and the replacement of its Columbus Day holiday in October for Indigenous People’s Day in 2020.

A survey, available in English, Spanish and Vietnamese, asking residents whether they want to keep or leave the current name – and their proposal for a new name – is open until April 22. www.bit.ly/ColumbusPark1, The survey page also includes a link to the project’s website, with more information about the planning and history of the park and how to register for a community meeting to be held online about the project on May 12.

After being largely undeveloped or used for agriculture for most of San Jose’s history, the city purchased the area bounded by Taylor, Irene, Asbury, and Walnut Streets for a future park in 1944. But after World War II, the city used the site as a place for emergency housing for returning ex-servicemen, placing 100 temporary trailers called “Victory Villages”. In 1947, inspired by the call of the Italian American community, the city council voted to name it Columbus Park.

The park was largely completed in the 1950s and 60s, with additions in later years, and has been home to countless softball games, volleyball matches, pick-up basketball, and even horseshoe throwing. was hosted. But the neighborhood to its north was opened in the 1980s, and today the area is dotted with tents and camps – a return to its role originally as emergency housing but without temporary trailers or city support. .

The Italian American Heritage Foundation in San Jose, which argued against removing the Columbus statue and changing the city’s holiday, is not happy with the possible change. Foundation president Dana Zucarello pointed to the park’s long history as a community resource and expressed hope that his community is not “railroaded” as he thinks happened with the City Hall statue. The organization’s former president, Ken Borelli, suggested that if the city drops Columbus’ name, it would be appropriate to honor another Italian American with strong San Jose ties, AP Giannini, founder of the Bank of Italy, which would become Bank of America. Gone .

Lawrence fans: The public is invited to a Celebration of Life at CEFCU Stadium on April 9 for Lawrence Fan, San Jose State University’s longtime sports information director, who died in February.

The lineup of speakers at the 10 a.m. service certainly deserves one who lived and breathed Spartan athletics during his 42 years with SJSU. These include football coach Brent Brennan, former athletic director Tom Bowen, former Spartans water polo player Sierra Painter, ESPN basketball writer Mark J. Spears, Mercury News columnist Mark Purdy, and SJSU alum and sports sociologist Harry Edwards.

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