The May 15 grand opening of Phil Hardberger Park, including the mile and a half of hiking trails, playscape and the city's largest dog park, was just the beginning of the former dairy farm's transformation into a world-class park. A new phase of the park is expected to open in each of the next five years.
This is not to say that the entire 311-acre property will be developed; rather, 75 percent of it will remain what the Master Plan calls "cultivated wild" -- native Texas landscape that has been carefully restored.
This month the City of San Antonio will begin construction on Phase 1B, which includes a number of new features on the existing eastern side of the park adjacent to Blanco Road, as well as the first amenities on the western edge of the property off NW Military Highway.
On the Blanco Road side, a new Salado Creek Classroom will front the parking lot and will include permanent restrooms, offices and a classroom for teaching about nature and the history of the park. This will be the first of several outdoor classrooms "embedded within the landscape mosaic to allow proximity to the native landscape," according to the Master Plan, designed by Stephen Stimson Associates and D.I.R.T. Studio. As you can see from this rendering, courtesy of the Stimson team, the pavilion will straddle the trail.
Plans also call for an overlook located near the historic farmstead off Voelcker Lane. This "perch that connects the park to the city's ecosystem, both natural and cultural" will give visitors a birds-eye view of Salado Creek from the top of a wooded bluff. The City will also add another trail, near the existing dog park, which will connect Blanco Road to the Geology Loop and Water Loop Trails.
On the NW Military side, there will be another playground ("And if you think the one off Blanco is cool, this will be super-cool," says Sandy Jenkins, of the City's Parks and Recreation Department), basketball courts, multi-purpose sports fields and BBQ grills. There will be an entrance and parking lot off of NW Military.
The $1.7 million Phase 1B project is being funded by a $1 million Urban Outdoor Recreation Grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and matching funds from the City. Construction should begin mid-July with an expected completion date of fall 2011.