It's no secret that Dominic Caserta and Kirk Vartan had a long, hard, and difficult past over the BAREC property. This web site used to post issues and frustrations that occurred over the original 17 acre property. That site was taken down at the end of 2013....and here's why:
In November 2013, the two of them decided to use the BAREC property as a way to repair their relationship, rather than a reason for battling and negativity. The property that caused so much anger and frustration also has the power to heal. After almost seven years, they decided to work together. They agreed to focus on the positive ideas, and build a partnership that would focus on what could be done, rather than what has happened.
Dominic and Kirk have different backgrounds and interests. Dominic's expertise is political elements, figuring out the right way to navigate that complicated maze, while Kirk's strength is brainstorming ideas and looking at opportunities with the local communities. Their skill sets are different as are their interests, but they both want to focus on a common goal: make an amazing solution for our seniors and the community, honor our history, embrace current designs and technology, and build a solution based on sustainable ideas.
With the SummerHill development nearing completion and the senior facility remaining a leveled six acre field, the two of them created a set of "guiding principles" for how those six acres could be utilized to the fullest extent possible. It includes the following concepts:
• Housing element for low-income seniors (minimum 165 units)
• Design that maximizes open space
• Design that creates a public accessible education space (community garden, year-round Farmers Market, youth education/hands-on, adult education for backyard gardening…’what can I grow in my back yard and how do I do it?’, demonstrating sustainable farming, history of the Valley of Heart’s Delight, etc.)
• Design with a public sitting area (precedent for successful public space at Santana Row)
• Small eatery utilizing local produce and food
• Create opportunities for resident seniors (work, food, activities)
• Public venue that can support community events (e.g., plays in the summertime)
• Overall, a design that incorporates green space into the housing component, challenging traditional housing, engaging LEED designers, leveraging people already out of their cars and parked across the street, allowing for future open space ideas (not behind locked gates).
In February 2014, these ideas were presented to the Kevin Riley, Director of Planning at the City of Santa Clara. He was not only open to the ideas, he provided additional suggestions on how to improve on the ideas even more! That put the team to work on building a vision.
Dominic and Kirk set out to meet with stakeholders, community leaders, developers, and neighborhood associations, with the underlying vision of how seniors living on the six acres can safely get to Valley Fair, Santana Row, the supermarket, the Century Theaters, etc. Basically, how can we create a vision that supports a safe and enjoyable pedestrian environment for everyone.
They contracted with a landscape designer and architect and continued to grow and mature the ideas and ultimately created a pamphlet that was presented to the City of Santa Clara for review in May 2014.
The presentation looks at not only the six acre site, but also the regional needs of the community (albeit a small region) that involves partnering with San Jose neighbors. It looks at creating a more densely built housing community (400-500 apartments of varying sizes, consisting of seniors, veterans, families, students, etc.) that maximizes the open space elements. It would directly integrate with an urban farm, creating opportunities for seniors and residents to become ambassadors to the space, to earn discounts or credits on rent or food for working and supporting the farm, access to fresh food, activities, engagement with the land and community, all while keeping residents thriving and independent. A major goal for this property is to create an environment that increases the quality of life for our seniors and ultimately, our whole community. It also ties the history of the Valley of Heart's Delight together with today's Silicon Valley.
We encourage you to look over this project pamphlet. It is titled: Win6 Village. When looking at the information, keep an open mind to the concepts and ideas presented. Some may seem foreign and far-reaching, but each element has been successfully implemented before and are shown with examples. It is a vision and a framework for the area and what can be done if we all come together to look at the area as a whole: www.win6village.org
Amazing outcomes aren't easy, but we shouldn't default to simply doing what is easy or simple to do. Great things are complicated, challenging, and require effort. If you look at these ideas and agree with them in concept, we encourage you to reach out to via email or the contact forms on the web site. Tell us what you think. Look at the sustainable land use designs and how they can benefit the residents and the community as a whole. Think of the opportunities for generations to come, not just building something for today. While financial concerns are very real, many of the designs look at using recycled materials and techniques that can reduce construction costs and provide long-term payback solutions.. And probably our biggest request is to think about what you want to see in the area. If you like what you see, know that it can be done. There are no legal contracts that have this land tied up (as was the issue over a decade ago). If the biggest public concern is that it looks expensive or it seems too grandiose, then we would request that you let us find the money to build this vision. With public support, city support, and retail/corporate support, the only barrier is funding....and that we can get. The City of Santa Clara needs to know if they take a chance on a very different model for how land is used in their city, one that they support and would embrace, that the citizens will support them to help them figure out how to get it done.
We all want what is best for our seniors and our community. These six acres can create an exceptional and amazing urban farm based housing community that will generate food, create opportunities for seniors to stay engaged and independent, create a unique open space for the public, preserve and utilize farmland in Santa Clara, and be a model for other cities to emulate. Santa Clara has the opportunity to lead California on sustainable land use and allow for discussions about the area on how to support the community going forward.
To look at the ideas, please go to: www.win6village.org. You can email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
This is what Dominic and Kirk have been working on and they hope you will join the effort to create this vision for Santa Clara's seniors, veterans, and neighboring communities.