It’s not every day a church develops a park for public use.
Yet, Community Bible Church is planning to do just that with property at its main campus on the far North Side, 2477 N. Loop 1604 East.
Church officials announced in December the six-acre transformation will cost an estimated $1.5 million, take several months to build, and will be open to the community, not just churchgoers.
“An additional six acres of community park and recreation space will be made available to our neighbors here in San Antonio,” said District 10 Councilman Clayton Perry. “I’m looking forward to seeing the completed project and know that the space will foster a renewed sense of community.”
Before construction begins, CBC is communicating with the city to ensure the project is up to code. The church also has been working with the state on environmental analysis of soil on the property.
“We hope to break ground as soon as possible,” the Rev. Ed Newton said in early February. A completion date is pending.
Community Bible Church has always been about service, and the congregation wanted to give back to the community in another way, according to the pastor.
With 14,000 members, it’s one of the largest nondenominational churches in the U.S.
“This is an opportunity to bless other people,” Newton added.
The park will be named after Robert Emmitt, the church’s founding pastor.
Newton said of the planned park’s namesake, “The primary desire here was to honor a man who had a vision 30 years ago.”
Emmitt Park will include three covered basketball courts, amphitheater, playground, splash pad and pavilions.
There will be a concrete walking path, accessible to people of all abilities, too.
Newton said existing public parks on the far North Side, such as Stone Oak and Panther Springs, have their fair share of attractive qualities.
Newton added, however, he has longed to see a sizable area park with a range of amenities that would appeal to a variety of people.
According to Newton, many church members frequently use the CBC’s existing health and fitness structures and programs, so the park would be an extension of current opportunities.
The concept was partly conceived from Emmitt’s frequent recreational walks, oftentimes with Newton.
But park visitors won’t have to be CBC members, nor will they be expected to consider membership.
“There are no strings attached,” Newton said.
Comments on CBC’s Facebook page have expressed overwhelming support for Emmitt Park.
“I think this will be the first church in San Antonio with such a great area for families and kiddos to have fun and do exercise,” one man said.
“What a huge blessings for kiddos and families,” a woman added.
Elected officials representing the region served by the future park call it ideal.
Neighbors north of 1604 have sought the expansion of community green space amid continued residential and commercial development in and around Stone Oak and Encino Park.
The city is busy designing Classen-Steubing Ranch Park, a public facility, in one of the last large pieces of available, undeveloped land in Stone Oak. It’s located west of U.S. 281; CBC is on the highway’s east side.
“The green spaces in District 9 are world-class amenities,” District 9 Councilman John Courage said.
“Properties located north of 1604 are typically considered prime real estate, and I think many of us would welcome the conversion of any of that land to parkland,” he added. “As the city looks forward to breaking ground on Classen-Steubing Ranch Park, it is encouraging to see so many options available for San Antonio’s North Side residents.”
Perry also praised the church on its undertaking.
“The addition of Emmitt Park to the area is a welcomed one,” he said.