Brackenridge Park bond project opponents hope state commission will ‘stop the chop’

Texas Historical Commission executive committee to vote on permits for 2017 bond project Tuesday afternoon

SAN ANTONIO – Opponents of a bond project to fix up Brackenridge Park hope a state commission could force the city to change course.

“There’s a passion to keep the the cultural integrity of our park intact, and that includes the trees,” said Grace Rose Gonzales of the “Stop The Chop” coalition.

The 2017 bond project for Brackenridge Park is broken up into two phases. Phase one of the project, which is being considered by the Texas Historical Commission’s executive committee, is focused on restoring and repairing the area around the pump house and Lambert Beach, including the limestone walls.

Part of those plans includes the removal of 48 trees and relocation of 19 others, largely because of their “proximity” to the walls and other “cultural resources. The trees slated for removal include some larger than two-feet-thick, known as “heritage trees.”

Opponents who hope to save the trees say there are other options for repairing the limestone walls that wouldn’t necessitate the trees’ removal.

The Texas Historical Commission executive committee is scheduled to vote on two permits related to the project at a Tuesday afternoon meeting in San Antonio. The committee already heard testimony from numerous people at an earlier meeting in March and is not scheduled to hear anymore public comment.

Gonzales says she and other opponents hope the Texas Historical Commission’s executive committee will send the city “back to the drawing board.”

That, she says, “would be the best thing for all of us, and for us to be part of ... that part of the effort, right? To bring, I would say, trust back to the table. Because at this point, it just seems like everything’s been so disingenuous when it comes to dealing with the people, the community.”

Shortly before airtime, a Parks and Recreation Department spokesman texted the following statement from the department director:

“Tomorrow, The Texas Historical Commission’s (THC) Executive Committee will convene in the afternoon to discuss the City of San Antonio’s permit related to Phase I of the 2017 Brackenridge Park Bond Project. This includes the Lambert Beach area and the submitted application is reflective of feedback provided through community engagement held last spring and summer. Through this process, the City of San Antonio proposes to preserve an increased number of trees resulting in a balanced approach to restoring and articulating the park’s cultural and historic features.”

Homer Garcia III, Director - San Antonio Parks & Recreation Dept.

The Texas Historical Commission’s executive committee will meet at 1 p.m. at the Betty Kelso Event Center in the San Antonio Botanical Garden.

About the Authors:

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.