Jeffrey Fontana Park is an Almaden gem, set into a residential area but also adjacent to loads of other parkland. In the not too far distance is a view of the coastal hills with Mount Umunhum on top. Jim, Clair, and I spent some time there last weekend and I thought some of our readers may enjoy seeing some photos and learning about this park (and perhaps be inspired to visit it, too).
Where is Jeffrey Fontana Park?
The 10 acre park begins at Meridian Avenue in San Jose at Oakglen Way. The other side of Meridian is TJ Martin Park. and just north of it is the humongous Guadalupe Oak Grove Park (previously shared about this park). In the map below, this is the park with the green park icon in the middle. You could spend many hours checking out these three connected parks !
Things to know about this park
There’s no public restroom here, but there is one at the adjacent Guadalupe Oak Grove Park. The playground is intended for kids ages 2-12. It’s open sunrise to sunset. No BBQs allowed.
There’s a lot of grassy space. It’s a little rough and not the kind of pristine lawn you’d find in most yards or sports fields – it’s full of weeds and doesn’t inspire picnics on the lawn, but it’s fine for walking on if you need to get off of the sidewalk. Watch your step, though, as there are a smattering of ground squirrel holes around.
Photos of Jeffrey Fontana Park
The park is spacious, with winding pathways intertwining and making a loop, with several different zones each with its own focus. All of it, though, exists beneath the high voltage power lines and their towers. In fact, it’s not just one set of lines, but three! They are impossible to miss and this is the biggest negative for the park.
On the flip side it’s a wonderful community use of space that would otherwise be left to seed. And to the south you have a nearly unobstructed, beautiful view of the Santa Cruz foothills and Mt. Umunhum.
The day we were there we did not hear any buzzing noises from the power lines, although Clair has visited with her dog Pepper on other occasions and sometimes hears them.
There is plenty of street parking along the residential area near this park. The photo above was taken from about where we parked.
The playground includes a variety of things for children to enjoy: a slide, swing set, play structure, a camel statue kids can climb on, as well as a picnic tables and benches for folks to take a seat and maybe enjoy a meal.
Not far from the playground there’s a dog park with two areas, one for smaller dogs and one for larger ones They were a good size – plenty of room for a game of “catch” with Fido. No one was using the dog park when we visited, but there’s a friendly community there and even on busier days I’ve never seen it look crowded.
Portions of the park, mostly framing the park on the north, are devoted to California native plants. In many cases there were placards near the plants, trees, or bushes which identified them. That was super helpful to me.
Below is a wild lilac bush, and you can see the name card below it.
We saw many other plants just getting ready to bloom, like the one below that looks a little like California fuschia or maybe a red penstemon. They all appear to be California, low water perennials. It’s very peaceful, but if you don’t like the sound of bees, I recommend staying away from the lilac bush.
A par course runs alongside one of the paths through Jeffrey Fontana Park, too. Each station provides an exercise to do with instructions and whatever stationary fixture (if any) you need to do it.
Jeffrey Fontana Park is named for and dedicated to San Jose Police Officer Jeffrey Fontana. He died while serving the people of San Jose during a traffic stop in Almaden Valley. He was just 24 years old and had been working for the department only 10 days when he was killed. There is a plaque and a statue about him, his service, and his character.
The statue is heart warming.
As we continued our walk, we noticed sevral highly decorated concrete structures under the power lines that relate to large water transmission lines below.
In recent years, P, G. and E has had to disclose where the high transmission gas lines are located, but the same is not true for Valley Water and San Jose Water regarding the location of the high capacity water pipelines. It’s unsurprising, though, that they use the same easements or right of ways as other utilities. If you look under the power tower electric lines throughout the valley you will often find large concrete boxes (or round concrete containers) similar to this directly underneath.
That said, normally they are just concrete structures with no decorating of any kind. These were delightfully and whimsically painted – only showing one box as this one was my favorite, but there were several at the park. Who’d have thought of goldfish swimming with the California poppies?
In case you’re curious about the pole in front of it:
Quite a few neighbors enjoy direct or near direct proximity to Jeffrey Fontana Park. One of them is Oaktree Park, a wonderful neighborhood that includes a cabana. Another is the Villas of Almaden, which is a gated community. It’s a great area to live if you love the outdoors as it’s also very close to parks like the Almaden Lake Regional Park, Boulder Ridge Golf Club, and just a little further to the south the Almaden Golf and Country Club and hiking trails for miles and milse through the Almaden Quicksilver County Park.
For more information:
Martin Fontana Parks Association (learn about events, community involvement, donate)