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Three Epic Park Projects That Could Transform SA

Photo: Courtesy photo, License: N/A

Courtesy photo

A conceptual design for Confluence Park

After its approval by voters last year, park planners were able to revive Pearsall’s original master plan, created in 1999 but forgotten after funding failed to materialize. The City also recently acquired an additional 268 acres for Pearsall to reach 512 total acres.

Thanks to the extra acreage, the portion of the park located directly on top of the former landfill can remain largely undeveloped, and monitored for dangerous gasses by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality—to be used for hiking and biking trails, scenic overlooks, and BMX bike courses.

The idea isn’t as noxious as it sounds: in 2011 the Center for City Park Excellence estimated that there may be as many as 4,500 landfill parks in major U.S. cities alone. Green hubs like Portland, Ore., and Berkley, Calif., even have their own examples. As for any lingering smells: could have fooled us.

The Current visited the park before learning its history, and would have never guessed that peaceful climb to the overlook was made up hundreds of feet of trash.

As for the non-dump land, that’s where the ideas get really interesting. Saldaña, parks project manager Jenkins and local landscape design firm Bender Wells Clark envision two full acres of playscapes, including a splash pad. Fitness fanatics can choose between planned 5K and 10K trails and a

Crossfit-style adult exercise station. A skate park will complement the hippie-centric disc golf course, and there’s even talk of connecting some of the bigger hills with a zip line. A large lot is planned to attract food trucks and farmer’s markets, echoing the flea markets that used to dot Old Pearsall road years ago. The entire park will connect with the southern entrance to the Leon Creek Greenway, currently located less than half a mile away from Pearsall.

“I actually grew up not far from Pearsall Park,” said Jenkins “so I really am excited for the opportunities coming forth.” Saldaña hopes the ambitious park plans will “prove to that community that we are trying to invest in a way that hasn’t happened in the last two decades.”

It’s hard not to wonder if $7.5 million will actually cover all these big plans. Again, for comparison’s sake, Hardberger Park (311 acres) fundraisers are seeking an additional $20 million just to finish their projects, according to an April 3, 2013 article in the Express-News.

To put Pearsall’s budget in another perspective, compare it to the $10 million the San Antonio River Foundation is seeking for the suddenly small-sounding 3.4 acres for their Confluence Park.

While the acreage isn’t even one percent of Pearsall’s, SARF executive director Estela Avery has a similar zeal when discussing the proposed park’s purpose. This space, too, was once an unsightly city-funded spot in the middle of a residential neighborhood. Until the Mission Reach expansion occurred, Confluence’s Mitchell Street address had been a CPS laydown yard and then a vacant lot. The river expansion required Bexar County purchase part of the yard for right-of-way, and SARF purchased the rest with the aim of turning it into an education-focused pocket of the greater Mission Reach.

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