SAN ANTONIO – The controversial project to rejuvenate the Lambert Beach area in Brackenridge Park got another go-ahead from the San Antonio City Council Thursday.
The council voted 6-4 to award a $3.5 million contract to Amstar, Inc. to work on repairing the historic retaining walls, stabilizing the pump house, and reconstructing the grand staircase.
However, the city’s plans to cut down dozens of trees in the process have drawn sharp criticism.
“We want the walls repaired, and we want the trees saved in place. And it can be done,” Ida Ayala told council members during Thursday’s meeting.
Councilman Jalen McKee-Rodriguez (D2), Councilwoman Phyllis Viagran (D3), Councilwoman Teri Castillo (D5), and Councilwoman Melissa Cabello Havrda (D6) voted against the contract after unsuccessfully trying to delay it another month.
Councilwoman Adriana Rocha Garcia (D4) was absent from Thursday’s meeting.
The city said it originally planned to take out 70 of the 83 trees in the project area. However, public pushback got the number knocked down to 48.
The city plans to relocate another 21 trees, including a 44-inch live oak.
But opponents think the city could do more to keep the trees in place. Some had supported an alternative method of repairing the walls, which they say would not require taking out the trees growing near the structures. However, the city said it was unlikely to save additional trees because of the heavy equipment that would still need to be brought in for the excavation.
Opponents also slammed the project’s development process, and Viagran agreed that “this has not taken enough time.”
The majority of the council, though, agreed with moving forward.
“I’ve only heard the argument of delaying it so people can have more public input,” District 9 Councilman John Courage said. “But I haven’t heard the argument to delay this because there are other solutions that aren’t being considered.”
Though the contract has been awarded, the city said work cannot begin until it finishes gathering all the necessary approvals. City officials say they hope to be able to begin this summer.