Residents push back against Google Fiber hut

Neighbors worry utility building has ruined their neighborhood park

SAN ANTONIO – The long sought after Google Fiber has finally arrived in one of 17 sites around the city, to the dismay of neighbors in the Sherwood Park subdivision north of Alamo Heights.

“Had to be plenty of areas that they could have found, sites that weren’t in the middle of one of the smallest parks in San Antonio,” said John Whitsett, who lives across the street from Haskin Park.

A pre-fabricated utility building was placed toward the back of the tiny park alongside several homes.

“We’re not against Google being here. We want them here,” said Sally Reese, who lives within sight of the fiber hut and the on-going site work. “We just would have like the opportunity to have a say so.”

Reese and Whitsett said they and others were surprised to learn the city had agreed to lease out a portion of their neighborhood park.

Flor Salas, a spokeswoman for the city of San Antonio, said this in a statement about Google Fiber:

"In March of 2014 the City of San Antonio approved a master lease with Google Fiber for the installation of 17 prefabricated communication shelters to serve as network nodes for the deployment of Google’s city-wide network system. The City of San Antonio is one of nine major cities that will receive Google’s high speed internet and TV services (Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, Kansas City, Nashville, Provo, Salt Lake City, Raleigh). Google’s presence in San Antonio will enhance our competitive edge in business, research, and education.

"Haskin Park is one of the 17 locations that will receive a prefabricated shelter.   The City of San Antonio has owned this park and maintained it since 1955 – The City will continue to maintain and improve the park for many years to come.  In fact, the City has several improvements planned for the park in the coming months.  The City is coordinating closely with the neighborhood association and Google Fiber to ensure that the location of the access road to the shelter does not disrupt the use of the park."

"They have many other sites picked out in parks," Reese said. "They need to go ahead and talk with the neighborhoods and go through the procedures.”

Whitsett said state laws and city ordinances governing the use of park land have been ignored, along with subdivision bylaws. He said he asked the city attorney about the situation,

“She said they did not believe they were subject to the neighborhood restrictions. They were above that. Even if they were subject to those restrictions, they don’t believe this is an annoyance," Whitsett said.

Neighbors said they worry the Google Fiber hut will ruin their little park, taking up at least 20 percent of the property. They also worry about increased traffic since Google Fiber will have access to the building 24 hours a day. And they said its commercial-grade air-conditioning system will generate noise pollution.

About the Author:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.