New-age educational park to be built on South Side

BHP Billiton donated $2.4 million to cause

SAN ANTONIO – The South Side will soon be a mecca for learning in San Antonio.

The San Antonio River Foundation begins construction Wednesday on its largest project, a park centered entirely on hands-on learning.

The park will provide environmental education and community connectivity and will be located along the Mission Reach Ecosystem Restoration and Recreation Project.

The $10 million price tag was paid for in part by a hefty donation from one of the big oil companies operating in the Eagle Ford Shale.

The San Antonio River Foundation received a $2.4 million donation from BHP Billiton to help build Confluence Park.

The park’s director, Frates Seeligson, said it’s about the company showing their involvement and commitment to the San Antonio community.

"In the long run, their citizens and their workforce that work in the Eagle Ford Shale region are going to stand to benefit from this."

Every aspect of this park is designed around education.

There will be plenty of hands-on learning activities taking place in the classrooms located on the grounds and events held in the pavilion to bring the community together.

“This isn’t your typical park we’re used to seeing,” said Seeligson, “it isn’t a playground type park where you sit and watch your kids play or throw a Frisbee,” he added.

Confluence Park has been designed as a water catchment system. All of the rain water will be collected and used to irrigate the 2.5 acres.

"Everything is exposed so this kid is actually playing in the water in a rain event but that water is also being recycled so they can see and learn how a drop of rain can be reused," said Seeligson.

Construction begins Wednesday.

A special ceremony to kick things off will happen at 9 a.m. at the future park site located at 310 W. Mitchell Street. The groundbreaking ceremony will feature numerous guest speakers including:

  • Mike Lackey, SARF Board Chairman/Welcome, Introductions, Closing and Thank You
  • Suzanne Scott, San Antonio River Authority General Manager/SARIP Overview
  • Stuart Allen, Project Manager for Confluence Park/Design overview of Confluence Park
  • David Banks, BHP Billiton General Manager Oil/$2.4 Million Confluence Park Donor on Community Investment, Education, the Environment
  • Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran, City of San Antonio, District 3/ History & Culture, The River That Connects Us
  • Commissioner Sergio “Chico” Rodriguez, Bexar County/Proud Partner
  • Judge Nelson Wolff, Bexar County/Positive Growth in San Antonio

The project is expected to be completed by fall 2017.

About the Authors:

Ben Spicer is a digital journalist who works the early morning shift for KSAT.