City Hears Stone Oak Residents’ Ideas for Future Classen-Steubing Park

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Edmond Ortiz / For the Rivard Report

San Antonio Parks and Recreation’s Grant Ellis addresses a resident’s question about Classen-Steubing Ranch Park in a meeting at Wayside Chapel.

A splash pad. Natural trails adequate for mountain biking. A place for environmental education. Soccer fields.

These are just some of the ideas that Stone Oak-area residents have in mind for the new Classen-Steubing Ranch Park.

The City has begun an anticipated seven-month conceptual design phase for the development of more than 39 acres of public park space, which lies both within the largest piece of undeveloped land in Stone Oak and the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone.

The City in 2016 agreed to use $5.3 million in funds from the Edwards Aquifer protection program to buy 160 acres of former Classen-Steubing family ranch land. The City also used $1 million from the Hardy Oak Boulevard extension to acquire an additional 5.3 acres. The City is expected to finish the nearby extensions of Hardy Oak and Huebner Road in December.

Further, voter passage of the 2017 City bond included $9.1 million to secure and begin developing the public park acreage. Outside of the park, the aforementioned 160 acres will remain undeveloped.

Representatives from the City of San Antonio’s  Transportation and Capital Improvements Department and Parks and Recreation Department joined more than 50 residents, City Councilman John Courage (D9), and Joe Krier, Courage’s predecessor on the council, for a public meeting Tuesday at Wayside Chapel.

While residential and commercial growth continue on the far Northside, many Stone Oak residents over the years have complained they have lack easy access public recreational amenities, Courage said.

“This will be a great new additional amenity to our community here,” Courage told the crowd. “District 9 has the fewest parks of all the City Council districts.”

“We’re going to do everything we can to make sure this is the best park that we can possibly build for the area,” Courage added.

The purchase of the 240-acres would mean that as many as 3,500 houses and apartment units that could have been built will not be. Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone.

The site of the future Classen-Steubing Ranch Park is located within the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone in Stone Oak.

Tuesday’s meeting was designed as a forum for residents’ ideas, said Mark Wittlinger, project manager and landscape architect with the City’s Transportation and Capital Improvements Department.

“What do you want to see this park become?” Wittlinger asked. “We’re just here to generate ideas, brainstorm. Nothing’s off the table at this point.”

Several audience members suggested ideas. Yolanda Adams suggested a water splash pad for small children,  similar to features at Pearsall Park and Hemisfair.

“Think of mothers with small children who don’t have a place to take them in the summer months,” she said. Others agreed. One woman called the Pearsall Park splash pads “amazing, but it’s a half-hour drive, and that’s not usually doable with my kids.”

One boy suggested building a playground, soccer fields, and a splash pad. A few more people mentioned soccer, baseball, and softball fields.

“This is an opportunity to build ball fields and soccer fields that are free for kids to use,” Bill Bailey said. “Using the YMCA fields, even if they are on parkland, it costs money to join on a monthly basis.”

Krier, who as a council member was instrumental in advancing the land agreement between the City and the Classen-Steubing family, agreed there’s a need for free, public ball fields in the Stone Oak area.

“If there’s one thing I heard over and over from people in District 9, [it] is, ‘We need free places for our kids to play softball and soccer,'” he said. “There was always the thought that this chunk of land – and there’s a lot of land – would be utilized for that purpose.”

Resident Heather Hansen, who is starting a nonprofit dedicated to environmental education, said the new park would be an opportunity for outdoors, interactive learning for young families.

“How to care for the environment, how to connect and understand our own participation with the environment, and how it supports us and how we support and care for it – there’s a wide range of things we’d like to do,” Hansen said.

A few people at the meeting said they hope the park will include a variety of surface trails for hiking, from paved to natural. Other attendees suggested more challenging trails for mountain bikers and more challenging fitness stations.

Courage said the $5.2 million left over from the public park land purchase may not be enough to provide all or even most of the residents’ desired park features, but that it would be “a good start.”

A group called Friends of Classen-Steubing Park, recently launched to promote conservation, management and improvements of the park. It is affiliated with the San Antonio Parks Foundation’s Friends of the Park program.

“What we’d like to do is act as a focal point for public input,” said Art Downey, who is the group’s interim president.

Wittlinger said the City would invite residents to a follow-up public meeting and short walking tour of the park on a Saturday in May, with additional details still to be determined.

The full park design will be created between January 2019 and March 2020, with construction underway from August 2020 to September 2021.

10 thoughts on “City Hears Stone Oak Residents’ Ideas for Future Classen-Steubing Park

  1. I must have been st a different meeting. Many ideas came up not even mentioned here. This sounds like young moms only at the meeting. Nothing mention about golf, natural running trails, connecting to Stone oak paved walk, ada area, fishing pond, dog area with poo stations. This can make you think that it’s just a little kids park.

  2. Yes, natural surface trails for mountain biking and trail running! Unfortunately, Eisenhauer, Panther Springs and Crownridge Canyon on that side of town don’t offer off-road access for bikes. This park, with its great natural topography, is an opportunity to fix that.

  3. I hope hardy oak will be extended from stone oak through and to sonterra. This would defray some if the traffic on stone oak and 281
    Thank you

  4. I hope stakeholders view this as more than “a chunk of land” for more softball and soccer fields as Mr. Krier seems to feel. Natural areas are rapidly being eaten up by development. Please preserve this beautiful spot. Once lost, it is lost forever. Re-purpose other abandoned areas for athletic fields. This spot is unique.

  5. Will there be any retail development in this area ? Will the Classen-Steuben family develop and sell the lots around this new city park ? Looks like a great development for the S A residence.
    Thank you, John Rutkoski

  6. Development of park space is great but make sure you are prepared for MAJOR traffic flow through there. Stone Oak has serious bottlenecks in traffic flow and this will be a huge step towards a solution that is years overdue. It’s great that Hardy Oak will finally connect but Huebner should push through to 281 ASAP as well. Build the park space areas well back from the main roads with plenty of parking and rock walls and natural barriers to separate through traffic from people and children enjoying the park(s).

  7. how is the construction of Hardy Oak, connecting it to Knights Crossing, coming along? I’ve been waiting for years for this to become a reality! it will alleviate some of the congestion on Stone Oak, which has gotten so bad in the past 5-7 years. is Huebner going to connect with U.S. 281?

  8. This whole thing is a lot of BS, this area used to be a good place to live before the city annexed it which is questionable, basically ruined it with all the apartments without any thought to infrastructure like ways in and out. Now these people that flooded the area think they need a park for their kids, guess what, they will have splash pools when we have heavy rains, that big dam back there is a containment dam, the land for the park is in a flood plain, nothing could have been built there to begin with, just another SA misinformed sweetheart deal.

    Robby

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