Survey: Public Supports San Pedro Creek Improvements

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A worker walks by a waterfall on the San Pedro Creek near the Bill Miller Bar-B-Q facility on Cesar Chavez. Photo by Don Mathis.

Planning by San Antonio River Authority (SARA) on the San Pedro Creek Improvements Project is moving towards 70% completion and the consensus is, it’s doable.

“It’s never wrong until it’s drawn,” quipped Steve Tillotson, Muñoz & Company architect and one of the Design Team Consultants.

Twenty-four interested citizens attended the San Pedro Creek Subcommittee meeting June 11 at the SARA office. Their next meeting will be July 9 and is open to the public.

Responses from the San Pedro Creek Improvements Project survey, taken after the May 30 Open House at St. Henry Catholic Church Hall, show the majority of people favors the plans.

“The negative responses are less than 20%,” Tillotson said. “That’s a wonderful design check.”

“I think that 18 or 20% of the people didn’t like Hugman’s design at the time,” Tillotson said. R.H.H. Hugman designed the River Walk built in the 1930s.

The San Pedro Creek flood control outlet as it appears today. Photo by Don Mathis.

The San Pedro Creek flood control outlet as it appears today. Photo by Don Mathis.

According to the San Pedro Creek survey, mass transit is one of the considerations in need of more attention. Abigail Rodriguez, VIA manager for facility programs, spoke of their conversations with SARA, the City, and Centro Plaza.

There are six street crossings of the San Pedro Creek on active bus routes, Rodriguez said. VIA wants to provide an interchange for waterway walkers and bus riders. “We want to make it convenient,” she said.

About 200 people attended the informational session moderated by Robert Rivard at the Southwest School of Art on May 28 and another 70 attended the Open House on May 30. Project designers were disappointed that only 113 took part in the survey.

The survey showed that the public likes the cultural aspects of the plans but doesn’t want the story to start at 1716. Residents want to know about the Native Americans before the Spaniards.

Linda Ximenes, of Ximenes & Associates and a descendant of the Tap Pilam group of Native Americans, said the survey shows that San Antonio citizens appreciate nature as well.

“They want more natural design features,” she said, “a focus on water and green space.”

Linda Ximenes of Ximenes & Associates believes people support what they help create. She shared results of a public survey on improvements to the San Pedro Creek. Photo by Don Mathis.

Linda Ximenes of Ximenes & Associates believes people support what they help create. She shared results of a public survey on improvements to the San Pedro Creek. Photo by Don Mathis.

Ximenes said survey results show that world travelers come to see what is unique to San Antonio. Survey respondents want to avoid being “generically cosmopolitan,” she said.

“The plan should be thoroughly vetted by artists and historians,” Ximenes said, and others agreed.

Tillotson said John Phillip Santos will document the history of the San Pedro Creek area so artists can tell the story.

“Santos will have his document complete by July,” Tillotson said. “This will help inform design participants.”

Ximenes said the public is concerned about safety, lighting, and parking along the San Pedro Creek. She said some fear interest in the project may diminish before all phases are completed and that the flood control purpose may be underestimated. Shade and San Antonio’s toasty temperatures are other issues.

“Metal gets hot, so there were those concerns,” Ximenes said.

Residents don’t want a theme park feel, she said, and Tillotson allayed those fears.

“Our firm doesn’t have a style,” he said. “Everything we do is original.”

Design Team Consultant Steve Tillotson wants to emphasize the stories of the San Pedro Creek. Photo by Don Mathis.

Design Team Consultant Steve Tillotson wants to emphasize the stories of the San Pedro Creek. Photo by Don Mathis.

The survey revealed folks want a pleasant place, Ximenes said. They want a dog park and grackle control.

“They want more opportunities for family activities,” she said. “They want more rest and recreational features.”

Ximenes said the survey showed concern about rising property values, gentrification, drainage measures, energy efficiency, and low impact development.

“A couple of people lamented the lack of connection to San Pedro Park,” she said.

Jerry Geyer, co-chair of the San Pedro Creek Improvements Project, said connection to the park is an idea that comes up every meeting.

“Something could be done to connect to San Pedro Park,” Geyer said, “but it’s not within our scope.”

He said other groups could work on a plan to connect the creek revitalization project to the park. “The idea does have potential,” Geyer said.

The survey revealed concerns about maintenance costs yet another issue loomed large. People want wider bike trails.

The Design Team said this aspect is not feasible. Though some parts of the trail will be accessible for bicyclists, it will not be for commuters.

“It’s not really compatible with bicycles,” Geyer said.

Plans for the San Pedro Creek will bridge the present to the past – and more. When it’s completed in 2018, in time for the tricentennial celebration of San Antonio, it will link the communities along its banks.

“The story should be told by the people involved in the project,” Geyer said. “We have three years.”

 

*Featured/top image: A worker walks by a waterfall on the San Pedro Creek near the Bill Miller Bar-B-Q facility on Cesar Chavez. Photo by Don Mathis. 

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#SATXnext Explores San Pedro Creek

San Pedro Creek: A River Walk for Locals

SATX NEXT: San Pedro Creek, the Next Big Thing

San Pedro Creek Project Designs Approved by Bexar County

5 thoughts on “Survey: Public Supports San Pedro Creek Improvements

  1. “It’s not really compatible with bicycles,” Geyer said.

    Well, that seems exceptionally near-sighted. Part of what makes the other parks so successful is their connectivity by and through bikes.

  2. As long as the work is compatible with (and does not further delay or remove funding from) the plan for connected multi-use (hike and bike) trailways as part of the Howard W. Peak connected greenways plan (2013) and approved Westside Creeks Restoration Conceptual Plan (2011) – including continuous, connected multi-use trail along Alazan, Martinez, Apache and San Pedro Creeks as phase 1 (trails only) work.

    Resources:

    Trails renamed for former Mayor Peak(Express-News, 2013)
    http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/article/Trails-renamed-for-former-Mayor-Peak-4528034.php

    Three Epic Park Projects That Could Transform SA (San Antonio Current, 2013)
    http://www.sacurrent.com/sanantonio/three-epic-park-projects-that-could-transform-sa/Content?oid=2248609

    Westside Creeks Restoration Project Conceptual Plan (approved 2011)
    http://www.westsidecreeks.com/westside-creeks-restoration-project-conceptual-plan/

  3. Rob and Mark. You will have to study the SPC Improvements Project details to put the bicycles comment in context. You can go to “spcproject”, the site that has all of the detailed renderings, to look at the design from the mouth of the tunnel southward to Cevallos St. You will note that there will be two paseo (walkway) systems…one at creek level and one at street level. The paseos will switch back and forth and will vary in width and shape based on available space and most importantly the flood control constraints. We have some very constrained areas in the center of town…and that will not change. The street level paseo system there crosses many major traffic laden streets. There are few places there today where walking/riding/driving parallel to the creek exists. Bikes might work on street level from the mouth of the tunnel southward to the Salinas bridge. They might work on street level from Guadalupe St southward to Cevallos St. But traversing the entire length would be very problematic, and dangerous in the city center. Regarding the Peak greenways…all four Westside Creeks will have sections of the Peak network. They are all designed now. Construction is beginning in some places. The San Pedro will have it from the confluence at the River at Concepcion up to the intersection with the Apache (under IH 35/IH 10). The area from IH 35/IH 10 northward to Cevallos St is now more natural, under design, and could also support bike use. We will know more at the 70% design point this summer. The Westside Creeks Conceptual Plan was just that…in 2011. For the San Pedro we have since completed the Preliminary Engineering Report which has specific information about what can and cannot be done for the full distance of the currently defined project. If you wish to become involved, we meet the second Thursday of each month at SARA and review all of the design progress. And we post as much information as possible on spcproject as is becomes available. Jerry Geyer

    • Hi Jerry

      Along with the downtown San Pedro Creek segment (“Reach 2”), the delayed work to be completed on stunted and disconnected sections of (approximately 0.5mi of 3.3mi) Alazan Creek (“Reach 1”) and (approximately 0.5mi of 2.8mi) Martinez Creek (“Reach 2”) by mid January 2016 follows the SARA-approved 2011 Westside Creeks Restoration Conceptual Plan Phase 1 work recommendations
      (p. 64).

      However, currently scheduled Westside Creeks work and completed designs appear to ignore not only more southern sections of Alazan Creek (“Reach 4” and “Reach 5”) and Martinez Creek (“Reach 5”) as envisioned with approved Phase 1 work, they also do not address the Phase 1 recommendation of ‘trails only’ continuous hike and bike trail along the full linear expanse of Alazán, Apache, Martínez, and San Pedro Creeks – work estimated to cost $13.2 million (in 2011) and meant to provide “neighborhood connectivity” from the start of the project as it evolves through various targeted and prioritized “reaches” of work including the downtown San Pedro Creek segment (p. 63).

      The understood strength of the SARA approved Phase 1 recommendations include addressing “five [priority] reaches which are predicted to be vulnerable to flooding”, providing “flood reductions” near established neighborhood sites, and distributing “the restoration work [and resources] generally throughout the full linear expanse of the [four Westside Restoration Project] creeks.” (p. 63)

      A key purpose of the approved Westside Creeks Restoration Project is “continuous hike and bike trail” and restoration work along the four creeks (p. 6). A core value of the approved Westside Creeks Restoration Project is the four “creeks as a way of connecting points of interests, transportation networks, and the Westside to the rest of San Antonio” (p. 12).

      Apparently, “over 400 people participated in three community workshops and a week-long Stakeholders’ Workshop to create a vision and establish priorities for the restoration of Alazán, Apache, Martínez, and San Pedro Creeks” (SARA website). In addition, Bexar County voters agreed to help fund the Westside Creeks Restoration Project based, in part, on this shared and promoted vision of continuous and connected multi-use trail and other improvements along the full linear expanse of all four Westside Creeks within the project boundary.

      The vision of continuous multi-use trail along Alazán, Apache, Martínez, and San Pedro Creeks within the project boundary is supported by SA2020 goals (2011) and various plans including the West/Southwest Sector Plan (2011), the Westside Reinvestment Plan (2009), the Guadalupe Westside Community Plan (2007), the Avenida Guadalupe, San Antonio, Texas Redevelopment Plan (2005) and the Downtown Neighborhood Plan – Westside (1999). It is also consistent with the Howard W. Peak Greenway System Plan as a connected ‘ring’ of multi-use trail throughout San Antonio, including the full linear expanse of Alazán, Apache, Martínez, and San Pedro Creeks within the Westside Creeks Restoration Project boundary.

      It is a bit disingenuous to suggest with your comment above that the 2011 SARA approved Westside Creeks Restoration Conceptual Plan and Phase 1 recommendations have no bearing on the current schedule of works or plans for the downtown San Pedro Creek (“Reach 2”) segment. Unfortunately, the key idea of the Westside Creeks (including San Pedro Creek) as neighborhood “hike and bike” connectors and the sharing of restoration (and flood mitigation resources) throughout the full linear expanse of the four creeks within the Westside Creeks Restoration Project boundary appears to be lost on some of the current planners and designers of the downtown San Pedro Creek segment.

      There’s little incentive to participate beyond online advocacy if SARA or San Pedro Creek downtown segment managers choose to ignore defining elements of their own recently approved, promoted, publicly-supported and collaboratively-created comprehensive plans for Westside Creeks restoration including San Pedro Creek. As the SARA approved Westside Creeks Restoration Project Conceptual Plan states, “this is not the River Authority’s plan or the consultant’s plan, it’s the public’s plan”. (p. 7).

      http://www.westsidecreeks.com/westside-creeks-restoration-project-conceptual-plan/

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