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February 24, 2010 > Alviso Adobe historic park

Alviso Adobe historic park

By Steve Wyant

Images courtesy of Greg Armandariz

The City of Milpitas is moving forward with protecting a piece of its past. On February 16, 2010 City Engineer & Public Works Director Greg Armendariz presented Council with an update on the Alviso Adobe Historic Park Master Plan, originally crafted in January 2000. Located near the southeastern corner of Calaveras Road and Piedmont Road, the plan calls for construction of a new park and restoration of existing structures. The goal is to replicate an historic 1920s rancho but with modern amenities such as public restrooms, pathways, lighting, and picnic areas with barbecues.

Currently in Phase IV, the plan has numerous objectives. Historic structures will undergo rehabilitation, including the water tower, garage and cutting shed which will be moved out of a creek channel to a more appropriate location within the park. Although the buildings will be structurally stabilized, they are only intended for viewing - the public will not be allowed inside these buildings.

To re-establish a 1920s farm setting, the park includes an apricot orchard, a herb garden and the construction of white picket fences. Opportunities for education through interpretive signage and the display of vintage farming equipment such as a tractor and other implements of the era will also be included. The park will be designed for neighborhood use and special events with plenty of open space.

Park design was a delicate balancing act, meeting the requirements of various federal, state and local agencies. Numerous historical, environmental and accessibility standards had to be addressed within the design of the two-acre site. Parking and grading is being carefully designed to provide full access for the disabled.

"We need to make the park entirely ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible. With the grades up against the hill, it's a little bit of a challenge but I think we shall be able to do that," Armendariz said.

Care also will be needed to minimize potential damage to historic trees on the property during construction. Most are healthy and will remain intact under the plan.

To establish suitable vehicle access, the city is negotiating easements rights with neighboring Calvary Assembly Church which owned the property in the mid-1980s before the city acquired it in 1996. The church parking lot will be used as an entrance and parking will be shared.

Centerpiece of the park, the Alviso Adobe building, has been in the midst of restoration since mid-2009. Adobe bricks will be re-plastered and the entire exterior will be restored, including windows and doors. Restoration of the historic building, home to Rancho Milpitas patriarch Jose Maria Alviso, built in 1837 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is expected to be completed in August 2010. The park site is scheduled for completion near the end of 2011.

"I'll just say this is an excellent way to keep our history alive," Vice Mayor McHugh concluded.

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