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Bond package projects coming out of woodwork for a share of anticipated $596 million

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There’s this quiet, almost collective groan out of City Hall when talk turns to our largest-ever bond package starting to take shape. Everyone’s got their hands out, palms up, seeking cash just a month after city officials wrapped marathon budget sessions — sessions filled with community groups and organizations pleading for funds. Hoping to ride Mayor Julian Castro’s framework-for-the-future plan, those who packed a series of bond committee hearings over the past month insist their projects — from refurbished baseball diamonds to multi-million-dollar redevelopments deals — are “SA2020-aligned” in cult-like fashion. “Everybody’s eying this thing like it’s a fucking ATM,” quipped one city official.

Citizen bond committees, handpicked by council members in their respective districts, are now wading through a sea of drainage, streets, parks, and facilities projects, choosing which ones deserve cash before the final package goes out to voters for approval in May. City staffers have already told Council they want to avoid the “peanut-butter approach” of spreading cash thinly across districts, instead targeting large-scale projects with “citywide impact” (read: downtown, decade of). And at $596 million, this year there’s more proposed wealth to spread around (the City’s 2007 bond weighed in at $550 million).

As expected, the majority, some $470 million, is slated for much needed street, sidewalk, drainage, and bridge repairs, the meat and potatoes of local government. For the past month, local organizations, community groups, and residents have packed bond committee hearings hoping to influence how the last $65 million for park improvements and $61 million for facilities and community initiatives should be spent. Here are some of the big asks:

 

HemisFair Park $30 million

In line with COSA’s “citywide impact” mission, the city has slated major cash for major redevelopment efforts at “San Antonio’s front porch,” as staffers with the HemisFair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation continue to call it. City recommendation calls for $15 million for the park’s facelift, another $15 million to redevelop key roadways in and around HemisFair.

 

San Antonio Botanical Garden $14 million

Early on, COSA staff recommended the Garden get $1.2 million, a tiny sliver of the $14 million the San Antonio Botanical Society wants to help push the Garden’s master plan forward, including educational centers and an expanded children’s vegetable garden.

 

Southwest School of Art $6.8 million

Southwest’s School is requesting $6.8 million to fund a parking garage and future student housing complex as part of an expanded campus on the Museum Reach of the river, home to the school’s future BFA program downtown — roughly 16 percent of the project’s projected total cost.

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