SAN ANTONIO — San Antonio is moving forward with its most expensive bond project ever. On Thursday, the City Council unanimously approved an $850 million investment in about 180 city-wide improvements.
More than half that money, roughly $445 million, will go toward streets, bridges, and sidewalks. That’s mostly maintenance, but the biggest line item will be a transformation of Broadway between Houston and Hildebrand. City leaders promise a walkable thoroughfare lined with trees and businesses.
Another $138 million will go to drainage and flood control, $120-million will go into parks and recreation, and $125 million will go to facilities improvements around the city.
But one of the most controversial items brought up by citizens during Thursday’s City Council meeting was a $21 million measure to renovate Hemisfair Park.
The project, according to Hemisfair CEO Andres Andujar, is quite ambitious.
“The goal is to create an area that the entire community can take pride in,” said Andujar. “A world-class park that is comparable to those in cities like Chicago Millennium Park and Houston Discovery Green.”
In reality, the Hemisfair park project only takes up about 3% of the city’s bond project. But it drew a small protest outside the city council chambers. The handful of protesters said their objection as not the park itself, but a hotel planned for right next door.
“The city put out a vision about an urban oasis, about a sustainable wonderland,” said protester Danna Schneider. “We don’t think a hotel is part of that vision.”
City leaders are quick to point out the hotel wouldn’t actually be on the parkland. Nor would it get public money, instead they say the developers would contribute about $2 million a year to the park. They also say they’re confident the park project, and the rest of the line items in the bond proposal, are well-thought out and take into account the feedback of San Antonio citizens.
City Manager Sheryl Sculley adds it will not require increased property tax rates, rather current rates will be able to cover the costs.
The bond proposal will go to a public vote on May 6.
Justin Bourke, KENS5 San Antonio