Scott Ball / Rivard Report
Saturday morning at the 505 acre Pearsall Park, a former landfill, children played on a newly built playground, joggers ran across a distant hill, skateboarders spun in the air and waved outstretched arms, a Zumba class kicked into high gear, and children of all ages laughed and splashed in the in park.
Community members flooded the park on San Antonio's Southwest Side with plenty of room to spare and lots to do. Pearsall Park's grand opening started with a Fit Pass Dash 5k, a city initiative where people earn points through a smartphone app for exercising. Along with the 5k, free fitness classes were well attended.
Elected officials, City staff, and park designers spoke to the commitment and longevity of the project that has been embraced by the community.
"I represent close to 30 parks, each park is looking for some money to get a basketball court, a canopy, a park bench, a trail park," said Councilman Rey Saldaña (D4) who took the lead in 2011 and garnered bond funding for this park, "but all the community members came together and they saw the vision of Pearsall Park outlined by a lot of community members and they were convinced that instead of spreading the peanut butter so thin that we wouldn't have an impact that we should put the money in one area in our district to attract what you see here today – which is folks from all over the city coming to one place and recognizing a part of town they may have never recognized."
(Read More: Pearsall Park and the Ascent of the Southside)
City Manager Sheryl Sculley is an avid runner and participated in the 5k.
"As someone who works on hundreds of projects throughout the whole community I have to confess I had tears in my eyes when I arrived this morning because this is so spectacular and so overdue for this part of the community," Sculley said.
Following their remarks, a ceremonial ribbon cutting took place, but before the snip of the scissors, no one was allowed on the splash pad – possibly the biggest attraction for families in the hot summer months.
Children and families stood sweating at the boundary for hours while cool, refreshing water passed in front of their eyes. When the ribbon was finally cut, dozens of children rushed into the water.
The park is now officially open and will provide a place for recreation for all ages, skills, and interests for years to come. Further improvements and additions to the park are in the works, said the park's lead designer Larry Clark of Bender Wells Clark Design, possibly in the next bond cycle. Since the skate park isn't designed for BMX bikes, for instance, they're looking into building a dirt trail.
*Top Image: Children climb to the highest point of the newly installed playground. Photo by Scott Ball.