SAN JOSE, Calif. - The end of summer also sees the end of the line for a South Bay entertainment favorite. For decades, Raging Waters Amusement Park had been a staple of summer. Now, the theme park is poised for a quick exit into history.
"I have fond memories, cherished memories. It’s a sad day. And quite frankly it was surprising to the city," said Councilman Domingo Candelas, whose District 8 encompasses the park.
Park officials said the closed signs that were placed near the front entrance at the conclusion of this summer season are permanent.
In a statement Thursday to KTVU, they wrote in part, "As part of normal business practice, we continue to evaluate our portfolio each year. After this evaluation, we have decided to not renew our land lease with the City of San Jose."
The business-driven decision is a blow to area residents, some of whom said the park provided more than just entertainment and an escape from the South Bay heat.
"A lot of my students work there. So it’s really unfortunate because we don’t have a lot in this area that provides [money for] a family unit," said Jennifer Harris.
Raging Waters sat on 23 acres in East San Jose, and has since the 1980s. Now, the debate is on at city hall and beyond, to see how that site, which is zoned for open space, can be best re-imagined for community use.
"This is not and should not become an economic development play," said Kelly Snider, a professor in the San Jose State Department of Urban & Regional Planning.
She said the new vision for the park should be another park that everyone can enjoy. From activities such as roller skating to up-and-coming sports such as pickle ball, and everything in between.
"Housing is a one-hundred-year decision…a piece of concrete to roller-skate on, that’s a five-year decision. It’s cheap and fast. And we can do it right now," said Snider.
Added Candelas, "I want safe, accessible opportunities for the community to gather to create stronger neighborhoods."
City staffers are soliciting ideas for what comes next. But there’s no time frame for when the free flow of ideas will need to solidify into a course of action.
Jesse Gary is a reporter based in the station's South Bay bureau. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter), @JesseKTVU and on Instagram, @jessegontv