Officials Break Ground at San Pedro Creek with Opera, Water Formation

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A colorful water feature is displayed alongside San Pedro Creek. Photo by Scott Ball.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

A colorful water feature is displayed alongside San Pedro Creek.

Thursday’s groundbreaking event for Phase 1 of the $175 million San Pedro Creek Improvements Project (SPCIP) strayed from the typical hard hat and shovel-wielding ceremony. Instead, a 30-minute opera – with ballet, Native American dances, and a full orchestra – marked the occasion at the Fox Tech High School football field.

Centuries ago, San Pedro Creek was a thriving waterway that nourished the indigenous communities that lived along it. In the 20th century, flood control projects turned the waterway into a drainage ditch, its magic and history lost beneath the concrete. The nearly two-year improvements project – spearheaded by the San Antonio River Authority in collaboration with Bexar County – will restore the creek into a linear park that will once again welcome communities to its banks and connect vital destinations in the urban core.

More than 500 residents, project partners, and city leaders came together Thursday for the groundbreaking, which honored the integral role the creek has played in San Antonio and celebrated its future through a multilingual performance featuring music by Alamo City Opera, Opera San Antonio, the San Antonio Symphony, and the Children’s Chorus of San Antonio, classical dancers from Ballet San Antonio and Native American dancers from American Indians in Texas at the Spanish Colonial Missions.

San Pedro Creek Groundbreaking from Rivard Report on Vimeo.

To see the production’s full libretto, click here. To see the full score, click here. Tomorrow, the Rivard Report will publish a more in-depth story, complete with photos and a video, about the special performance.

The gathering also kicked off the city’s inaugural World Heritage Festival, which will continue throughout the weekend with various activities at the Missions.

Before the groundbreaking ceremony took place, Epifanio Hernandez, a member of the Tehuan Band of Mission Indians, and Fr. David Garcia, pastoral administrator of Mission Concepción and director of the Old Spanish Missions, gave special prayers asking Mother Earth for forgiveness and God to bless the creek and surrounding land.

Mike Lackey, River Authority board chairman, commended the leadership of Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff and County Commissioner Paul Elizondo (Pct. 2) in helping make the project a reality through their continued support and funding from the Commissioner’s Court. It is one of several projects taken on by the Bexar County Heritage & Parks Department and its Director Betty Bueché.

“This will be one of the greatest legacy projects that this Commissioner’s Court has ever done,” Wolff said. “It is indeed a transformative project. You’re going to see the quality of life enhanced, you’re going to see economic growth occur here, you’re going to see cultural vibrancy.”

City Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1), SAISD Board President and SPCIP Subcommittee Member Patti Radle, River Authority General Manager Suzanne Scott, and SPCIP Subcommittee Co-Chairs Michael Cortez and Jerry Geyer also were recognized for their efforts and commitment to the transformative project.

Missing from the event was Mayor Ivy Taylor, who was unable to attend due to a personal matter.

“This is only the first of many celebrations,” Lackey said. “… Once the San Pedro Creek improvements are completed, you will be returning with your family and friends with a renewed reverence for the history, art, culture, and beauty of the creek.”

Over the past few years, Cortez and Geyer said, the improvements project subcommittee has been working to gather community input and consult with professionals to shape the direction and planning for the creek.

Geyer added that he and his colleagues worked hard to “make sure the creek reflects (the) flood control, the environmental, recreational, and quality (of) life concerns of our people, our stakeholders.”

Later in the program, to symbolize “breaking ground” on the creek, Wolff and Elizondo turned two wheels on the stage that set off a water formation tinted with vibrant colors over the nearby creek.

“We have an area now that not only has been long neglected, but at one time … was a thriving area,” said Elizondo, who was born and grew up close by. After some time, the creek became a drainage ditch that was a so-called “dividing line” between the Westside community and downtown, he said.

“… Now with this creation of this creek, I’m sure it’s something that will bring this community together (again).”

Radle said that the San Pedro Creek Improvements Project is an endeavor that shows that San Antonio is a “community of vision.

“We’re a community of creativity,” she added, “a community (that is) not afraid to take the risks of making something beautiful knowing it costs a pretty penny.”

 

This article was originally published on Sept. 8, 2016.

 

2 thoughts on “Officials Break Ground at San Pedro Creek with Opera, Water Formation

  1. Thank you Camille Garcia for another fine comprehensive article, and thank you Scott Ball for many more of your excellent photos! An effort as large and significant as the San Pedro Creek Improvements Project is an undertaking that requires the attention and involvement of the community that will benefit from the investment. Your journalistic contribution is vital to that involvement. We’re happy to see Rivard Report journalists at all of our review sessions and other meetings, including the Commissioners Court sessions where key reports are presented and key decisions are made to keep this project moving. The challenges of construction are just ahead of us. There will be the usual “bumps in the road” that go with that…and communication will be vital for the residents, businesses, services and all the rest to coexist while we turn the old ditch into a linear park. So…we’ll see you on Sept 15th at the San Pedro Creek Subcommittee meeting!

  2. I would trade an opera and a water formation / any special event for stop signs on Cincinnati Ave/Josephine Tobin Dr at Alexander Ave — to allow pedestrians the chance to cross safely from Woodlawn Lake Park/neighborhood streets to SARA’s Alazan Creek Trail as well as to help deter speeding on this wide street near the park and trail head.

    The stop signs would also help users of SARA’s Alazan Creek Trail access SARA’s Martinez Creek Trail via Cincinnati Ave (stop signs are also likely needed on Cincinnati at Navidad near the Martinez Creek trail head) — the only pedestrian connection between these creek paths until the long-planned trail segments linking Martinez and Alazan with each other and Apache and San Pedro Creek trails are eventually completed (currently projected by the City’s Annual Budget to be completed in FY2019).

    As planned by SARA (2011) and endorsed by the Army Corps of Engineers (2013), even temporary safe and accessible pedestrian paths along and between Martinez and Alazan Creek south to Apache Creek were envisioned as ‘phase I’ of Westside Creek revitalization work (that downtown San Pedro Creek is a small part of). SARA should work with the City to honor this commitment and create in 2017 safer and ADA compliant pedestrian access to and between Westside Creek trail heads — looking at pedestrian safety and trail head accessibility issues on Cincinnati Ave as well as on Fredericksburg Rd (between Argarita and Woodlawn) and Lombrano St (between Zarzamora and Hamilton).

    https://www.google.com/maps/@29.4498558,-98.5300604,17z

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