Hardberger Park Land Bridge was approved with a cost of $13 million.
Councilman Ron Nirenberg stands with former Mayor Phil Hardberger as a shared benefactor in District 8 of the land bridge to build up Hardberger Park.
They laugh… and why shouldn’t they laugh? The city will have a critical critter bridge to satisfy the needs of the growing needs of the deer, the possums, the raccoons, and other wild life that we desperately need to preserve – oh yeah the people who visit the park also will cross with the animals. Just what we needed!
Hardberger said prior to the 2017 city bond passing, “there aren’t any that we know of in the United States, but they’ve worked well in Europe and elsewhere in the world, and our architects are at work on just such a solution here. All we need is the money, and San Antonio will have a natural attraction unlike anything else found in this country.”
“People have always come to San Antonio to visit the Alamo and the Missions, to enjoy the River Walk and now enjoy the San Antonio River,” Hardberger continued, “but if we can raise the funds and get this land bridge built, we will attract people from far and wide who will be drawn to a part of our city that has never attracted visitors.”
During the January 19, 2017 City Council vote District 3 Councilman Rebecca Viagran made a last-minute motion that the Hardberger land bridge — which is divided over two bonds categories, streets and parks — instead be listed on the ballot as its own item, fearing the project could threaten the bond as a whole. No other council member seconded her motion, so it failed.
“I do believe this project could be controversial, it could be problematic and it could be detrimental to our streets and parks propositions,” Viagran said.
Bob Martin, with the Homeowner Taxpayer Association of Bexar County, opposed use of bond dollars for the Hardberger Park land bridge, saying it might benefit squirrels and raccoons but figured even those animals wouldn’t be likely to support it “if they knew they had to pay for it.”
Now that it is approved, Judge Nelson Wolff delivered his news on May 9, 2017, “We’ll [Bexar County] have to work our way through some legal issues and what not but I think we can work our way through it,” he said. “When voters approved [the parks portion of the bond] overwhelmingly, they approved $13 million for [the land bridge] … argue about it all you want before [that], but now the deal is over with so we need to step up and make sure it’s done right.”
Well this sounds nice but this is really a poor reflection of how far apart Mayoral candidate Ron Nirenberg is from the rest of his city. Almost all candidates running for District 2 City Councilman position and to include Mayoral candidate Manuel Medina all rejected the notion that the new land bridge is important to the city.
So why was the land bridge so controversial? The stark reality is what separates the East side community parks from developing like a Hardberger Park is that the private business sector will raise millions of dollars to support the growth where they are comfortable. The Haves versus the Have Nots. At this time Phil Hardberger Conservatory supporters do not see the East Side as a place they are comfortable investing in. Until the East side has new recruitment for businesses who want to invest in the diverse, good people and put some love into our aging infrastructure, the community will be at the mercy of the special interest needs of Districts 8, 9, and 10. The business partners in 8, 9, and 10 are willing and able to donate massive sums of money to their pet projects or animal projects.
At this time, the poorer areas of the city should be content with the incremental improvements gained by the passing of the $850M bond. Celebrate the streets, bridges and sidewalks; drainage and flood control; parks and recreation; and facilities. As we know sidewalks and street repairs are desperately needed.
Our community has to continue to imagine and plan for the day when MLK Park will be enhanced with millions of private dollars, and public dollars. Hopefully this day and this plan don’t come at the expense of gentrification!
Improvements Forecasted for District 2 Parks under the City Bond:
Dawson Park $750,000
Lincoln Park $1,000,000
Lockwood & Dignowity Park $3,100,000
Pittman-Sullivan Park $550,000
Martin Luther King Park $3,100,000
Brackenridge Park $7,750,000