The new year will usher in the third phase of the five-phase development of Phil Hardberger Park.
Phases 1 and 2 consisted of the grand openings of the the public-access areas on both the east (Blanco Road) and west (NW Military Highway) sides of the park, including signage, walking trails, lighting, parking, playgrounds, play fields, sports courts, dog parks, Salado Classroom / Restroom Building and Salado Creek Overlook. The signature project of Phase 3 is the Urban Ecology Center to be built on the west side off the park located at 8400 NW Military Highway.
The 4,000-square foot building will include a classroom / research laboratory, gathering hall, offices, restrooms, covered porch, water harvesting and solar power. The Urban Ecology Center will serve as an institution for teaching park visitors about coexisting with nature in an urban environment. The Urban Ecology Center will also become the central headquarters for the Alamo Area Master Naturalists, an organization that provides training for volunteers who focus on the preservation, conservation and restoration of parks and natural areas all over the city and region.
The City of San Antonio staff has recommended $3 million of the proposed 2012 Bond Program be dedicated to the Urban Ecology Center. However, the Urban Ecology Center, as envisioned in the master plan for Hardberger Park, is projected to cost at least $5 million. The Parks Community Bond Committee — a group of citizens tasked with recommending bond projects to the City Council — can raise or lower the initial recommendation of $3 million.
“If we underfund the Urban Ecology Center, it’s not the same as cutting a swingset out of another park. The effect would be much more far-reaching,” said former Mayor Phil Hardberger, chairman of the Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy. “The Urban Ecology Center is intended to be a teaching institution for all the people of San Antonio. If we build something less than what the community asked for, we would be completely thwarting the purpose of the park, and it’s award-winning, very expensive master plan would fail.”
The Parks Community Bond Committee is scheduled to tour Phil Hardberger Park on Saturday, December 3 from 1:30-2:00. The Conservancy Board of Directors urges you to stop by the park at this time and express your support for the park to committee members.