Stone Oak residents are offering ideas on amenities they envision for a new public park to be built over the next few years.
This spring, San Antonio will begin a yearlong process involving the design of the first phase of Classen-Steubing Ranch Park, one of the city’s newest recreation areas.
The park will be developed on former ranchland at the corner of a completed intersection of Huebner Road and Hardy Oak Boulevard.
San Antonio recently gathered public input in order to prioritize the basic recreational features many community members say the area lacks.
More than 30 people on Dec. 13 attended the latest city-sponsored open house about the nascent park during a meeting at Wayside Chapel’s campus on Evans Road.
The city will first focus on using funding allocated for the project from the voter-approved 2017 bond issue, providing facilities such as soccer, baseball and softball fields, a playground, roadways, parking space, bathrooms and pavilions.
“There are things asked for that are above and beyond the basic needs identified in the bond,” said project manager David Beyer of Rialto Studio, a local landscape-design firm.
Beyer said the goal is to carefully craft a public park on gently rolling terrain in the far North Side, surrounded by suburban areas.
“How do we balance this place, a really nice piece of property, with people wanting to access it?” Beyer asked rhetorically. “We want to keep the site natural.”
Beyer noted the main park entrance, off Hardy Oak, will be designed to give visitors the sense they’re entering a park and not just a parking lot. According to a preliminary concept, the main road will link to ball fields and a playground.
To help acquire some of the amenities, neighbors, including members of the Friends of Classen-Steubing Ranch Park, have partnered with the Stone Oak-based Mitchell Chang Foundation. The nonprofit is helping raise funds to purchase playground equipment.
Art Downey, president of the Friends, said the foundation’s involvement is a great example of neighbors working together.
He added other recreational facilities in the area have benefited from involvement with Eagle Scouts and civic groups.
“These are things that can be built upon,” Downey said of the chance for neighbors to help.
Some folks also commented they’d like the park’s new trails to connect with nearby Las Lomas Elementary School and Stone Oak Park.
Beyer said the likely outcome will be for the first phase of development to consist of established trails with different surfaces.
Initially, paths on the park’s periphery would stay natural until dollars are freed to develop the rest of the space. Then, the remaining trail system would be improved.
If all goes as planned, construction on Phase 1 of the fledgling park would start in fall 2020 and last a year.
What’s ahead for a second phase? It depends on how much money is available then, Beyer said.
Some residents have suggested additional features, such as courts for basketball and tennis, a dog park, birding blinds, disc golf and fitness stations.
Beyer said it probably would be easier to accommodate a disc-golf course and fitness areas because, “These are things you could weave in and out of the (necessary) items and they don’t take up much space.”
District 9 City Councilman John Courage said his office would assist in finding funding, ensuring the park is developed to meet various recreational needs. He added Stone Oak merchants and other stakeholders should be involved, too.
“I’m committed to work on that and get more money into the project as early as we can,” Courage said.
While area residents won’t reap the rewards for a few years, Downey said it’s worth the wait. He explained it took multiple bond issues to develop other North Side parks.
“People need to understand it won’t all happen with this first bond,” he added.
Sitting over the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone — San Antonio’s principal source of drinking water — the park comprises about 165 acres of the former ranch.
In 2016, the city purchased a total of 204 acres for about $10 million using aquifer-conservation funds to stave off a planned 3,000-unit residential development west of U.S. 281 and north of Loop 1604.
An additional $3.7 million allotment from the 2017 bond paid for 39 more acres of family ranchland close to Huebner and Hardy Oak.