Stone Oak residents are looking forward to this autumn when a year’s worth of initial development begins at Classen-Steubing Ranch Park, the third city-owned park in the far North Side neighborhood.
Representatives from the San Antonio Transportation and Capital Improvements Department and Rialto Studio, a firm doing the park design, gathered Jan. 7 at Wayside Chapel in Stone Oak to give residents a project update.
Phase I of the Classen-Steubing Ranch Park, which will sit at Hardy Oak Boulevard and Huebner Road, will include a playing field suitable for soccer, three baseball/softball diamonds with bleachers, two pavilions, an overlook outdoor education center, a monument sign, landscape buffer, three parking lots and a 10-foot-wide concrete trail going around the park.
David Beyer, Rialto Studio’s project landscape architect, said the baseball/softball fields will be open to anyone, and not for rent solely by leagues or groups.
“What we were looking at was an open-play field concept, something that would include park comforts like shade, restrooms, drinking fountains, places for people to rest, but we also have to remember the fact that this was historically a ranch,” Beyer said.
He also said the city hopes to connect the planned concrete ring trail into the trail system surrounding Stone Oak Park. One of the pavilions will include six unisex bathroom stalls. Two will be accessible to disabled visitors.
City staff and designers have kept in touch with neighbors to determine what kind of park is wanted and will best fit the former ranch land, which is the largest undeveloped piece of property in Stone Oak.
Many residents said they enjoy the offerings provided by the city’s two existing neighborhood public parks, Panther Springs and Stone Oak, but the dearth of nearby open soccer, baseball and softball fields and basketball and tennis courts spurs them to drive farther out to find such facilities.
So far, Phase I of park development will not include basketball or tennis courts, fitness stations, a disc golf course, a dog park or birding blinds, all suggested by residents.
Beyer said the $5.3 million left from the money that the 2017 city bond issue allocated toward the park project will permit only so many amenities.
There will be a second phase of park development that would require future bond funding.
“As the project develops, if it allow for those things, we’ll start to look at them,” Beyer added.
According to project representatives, the nonprofit Mitchell Chang Foundation is proceeding with plans to fund and install a playground at Classen-Steubing Ranch Park that is fully inclusive and accessible to children of all abilities.
The playground will be named Mitchell’s Landing after the foundation’s namesake. The parents of Mitchell Chang began the nonprofit after their child drowned at a local swim school at age 3.
The playground will have a pirate theme; Mitchell Chang enjoyed tales of seagoing brigands.
“When I say it’s all-inclusive, it includes not only people in wheelchairs, but children with autism or other disabilities so they may (have) a safe place to hang out,” Beyer said.
Rialto Studio and the city will finalize designs this summer.
Art Downey, chairman of the Stone Oak Property Owners Association, has been key in forming a Friends of Classen-Steubing Ranch Park group to help promote programming and stewardship of the developing park. People may email email@example.com for details.
Downey urged community members to donate their time and resources to efforts helping fill the park with items such as picnic tables and benches.
“The Boy Scouts have been active in building benches and picnic tables, things like that, as part of their Eagle Scout program,” he added.
District 9 City Councilman John Courage attended the park update meeting. He said he’s pleased with the present design. He also invited residents to prepare ideas for potential future bond projects, such as additional park amenities.
“Later this year, I’ll initiate bringing people of District 9 together and start to develop ideas we want to put forward in our district for all kinds of improvements,” he added.