Tuesday, December 15, 2009

SA Alternative Housing Corp, City of San Antonio and San Antonio River Authority begin construction of 1 mile of Westside Creeks revitalization

At a recent public meeting on the Westside Creeks planning project, someone asked former Mayor Garza why we should bother with imagining how Apache, Alazan, Martinez and San Pedro creek could be transformed before money had been authorized to do so.   But the questioner didn't realize that vision must precede funding.

Lo and behold, funding has been found to start a small part of the project!

From Rod Radle, San Antonio Alternative Housing Corporation:
San Antonio, Texas December 16, 2009 — The San Antonio Alternative Housing Corporation (SAAHC) is sponsoring a ground breaking ceremony to announce the start of construction for the first linear park to be created on the Zarzamora and Apache Creeks. The mile long park will provide a picture of what future public development will hold in store for San Antonio residents on four major creeks located on the Westside and inner city.

The linear park is being developed on a bank of constant level creek just north of Elmendorf Lake. The area has been for years a mass of overgrown vegetation, with lush plants, tress, numerous birds and animals. The park will open up this natural jewel for the first time for citizens to appreciate and utilize for their own physical and mental health. It is anticipated that the area will become active with school children and adults as its natural riches are discovered.

Eleven years ago, SAAHC, with participation of numerous public taxing entities, formed one of the first developer sponsored Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones (TIRZ) in San Antonio. The TIRZ was formed primarily in order to create sixty-five, affordable homes for families in the Rosedale Subdivision. This financing mechanism allowed lots to be developed and sold for 1/3 of their cost, thus allowing families to afford homeownership in one of San Antonio’s lowest economic neighborhoods. The TIRZ finance plan also envisioned the creation of a linear public park beginning at General McMullen and finishing at Commerce Street near Our Lady of the Lake University.

Needless to say, when the park was first thought of there was no major push for the development of the creeks on the city’s Westside. But the timing couldn’t have been better, with Roberto Rodriguez championing the cause with numerous citizens for strategies for creek development through the Westside Creeks Restoration Project. Committees are working on developing the Alazan, Apache, Martinez and San Pedro Creeks, working closely with the San Antonio River Authority, as well as the City of San Antonio and Bexar County. This linear park will provide a hands-on example of what will become a reality for public spaces on these creeks in the coming years.

The groundbreaking event will mark the start of construction on the park, which is being developed by SAAHC on land owned by the City of San Antonio (COSA). Once completed, the COSA will maintain the park, adding it as another linear park in its care. The park will be comprised of two paths, one concrete for bikes, skateboards and pedestrians, and a second cinder path for exercise. Lighting will be featured throughout the pathways. Benches, tables and exercise stations will also be strategically placed along the paths to take advantage of the views of the creek. The park is scheduled to be completed and opened to the public in spring of 2010. The $700,000 project will be fully funded through TIRZ proceeds, with interim financing provided by the San Antonio River Authority.

The San Antonio Alternative Housing Corporation (SAAHC) is a nonprofit organization established in 1993. The mission of SAAHC is to provide decent rental and ownership housing that is affordable to low- and moderate-income people in Texas; to provide housing education and ownership counseling through a community home ownership association; and to promote and create business development, job training, health and social services.
The start of the park will be at near the intersection of Matyear and Landa Street.

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