Commentary: Keep McAllister Park a Park, Not a Ballpark

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A baseball field for Capitol Park Little League is proposed to replace the Blue Loop (Vista Trail). Photo from Apple Maps.

A baseball field for Capitol Park Little League is proposed to replace the Blue Loop (Vista Trail) in McAllister Park. Photo from Apple Maps.

San Antonio already is a park-poor city, but unless people can get the attention of City Hall, we could lose yet another piece of McAllister Park to the construction of another privately controlled Little League baseball field. Councilman Mike Gallagher (D10) has invited the community to suggest alternative spaces for the new ballpark, but is he serious?

City staff’s plan is to use $2 million in public funds to give the Capitol Little League a new ballpark, which would further reduce the park’s disappearing wildscape. If the City’s plan goes through, tax dollars will benefit a private organization at the expense of all other park users and the park’s wildlife population. More parkland will become padlocked recreational fields.

City officials are fond of describing the bond process as a citizen-driven exercise, but we are where we are today because of back room dealings that occurred far from public view.

The City’s website claims McAllister Park is 976 acres, but approximately 55 of those acres are controlled by the McAllister Park Little League. Other areas that aren’t always accessible to the public – soccer fields, the former TWC park, and the Texas Transportation Museum – make up more than 200 acres of McAllister park land that aren’t always accessible to the public.

Little League leases the land from the City for next to nothing, locks out the public and leaves the fields unused and inaccessible except when league games are being played. There are 16 Little League baseball fields in the park. Can’t they be shared?

A baseball field for Capitol Park Little League is proposed to replace the Blue Loop (Vista Trail).

A baseball field for Capitol Park Little League is proposed to replace the Blue Loop (Vista Trail).

Some of the existing fields were built in the same manner more than a decade ago, with little public input and no warning before the bulldozers showed up to destroy woodlands to make way for more private ball fields. We should not allow this to happen again.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for providing our city’s children with baseball, softball and soccer fields to give them opportunity to be active and social. But McAllister Park is the wrong park to build new fields. Enough of the park has been lost already, and vehicle traffic on league days overwhelms the entire park. The “Keep Out – No Trespassing” treatment of the public in a City-owned park is an insult to every taxpayer.

I hope those of you who have not experienced McAllister Park will do so, either on your bike, using the dog park, or just walking the trails in the wooded areas. Sometimes I drive to the park with my bike, or if I have the time, I ride my bike to the Tobin trailhead and ride north to the park. I also mountain bike. McAllister Park, along with the smaller OP Schnabel Park are the only parks that allow mountain bikes on trails.

While biking through the park trails, I will encounter trail runners, bird watchers, children riding their bikes for middle and high school training sessions, moms strolling with children, families taking nature walks. On any given weekend, I’ll see youth soccer games being played, runners galore, families flying kites, people walking their dogs, playing Frisbee, or having picnics.

Our City’s SA Tomorrow comprehensive plan states, “Conserve, protect, and manage San Antonio’s natural, cultural, and historic resources and open space.” Destroying green space is not an improvement to McAllister Park. It only benefits the private users of Capitol Little League fields and destroys the land, flora, fauna, environment, and disrupts the natural setting for the animals that live and thrive within McAllister Park.

Green space is rare and we should be good stewards. So I ask the City: Please do not destroy our green space for the benefit of a few. And I ask everyone who uses McAllister Park to attend the bond committee meetings and write Mayor Ivy Taylor and your City Council representative. Let them know that the protection and preservation of McAllister Park is in the public interest. It’s a public park, owned by the public, and established for the public good. Let’s keep it that way.

Click here to contact your Council member.

 

https://rivardreport.wildapricot.org

 

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article stated that hundreds of McAllister Park’s acres are controlled by the McAllister Park Little League. In fact, the league controls 55 acres. Soccer fields, the former TWC park, and the Texas Transportation Museum comprise more than 200 acres of McAllister Park land that aren’t always accessible to the public. 

Top image: A baseball field for Capitol Park Little League is proposed to replace the Blue Loop (Vista Trail). Photo from Apple Maps.

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Dogs and Kites take McAllister Park for Fest of Tails

Community Feedback Needed for 2017 Bond

Council Mulls $850 Million Bond Before Heading to Committees

City Still Hashing Out Plans for SA Tomorrow Implementation

14 thoughts on “Commentary: Keep McAllister Park a Park, Not a Ballpark

  1. As a family that played Capitol Park LL for several years, I am genuinely torn about this issue. The current CPLL facilities are in rough condition and have been for years. I’m certain that volunteers have done the best they can with the resources they have, but children and families in northeast San Antonio who want to explore baseball/softball need and deserve better. It’s a wonderful opportunity to make this a reality.

    On the other hand, I agree it seems a shame to take away land from McAllister Park when fields already exist. Sharing the fields is an interesting option and one that I hope will be considered. I also hope that land parcels north of 1604 will be considered. CPLL serves all of the growing communities north of 1604 and east of Bulverde Rd. I’d like to believe there are some options to consider outside of the loop.

    If CPLL has to dissolve (which I hope it doesn’t), I also wonder where our kids will play. Will McAllister LL (or other local leagues) absorb players from CPLL? Little leagues are zoned much like a school zone, and where you play is determined by your address. If a new location for CPLL is not found, where will all of these kids get a chance to play?

    My biggest wish is that the conversation remain a positive one – this should not be an “us” vs. “them” scenario. We should all be working together to find the best possible solution for everyone

    • There are groups of people actively looking into several options for CPLL to locate. We are not an “us” vs. “them” type of group/people. There is a problem and we are all actively helping to provide solutions. I hope CPLL is doing the same and not just considering McAllister Park as its one option. We must keep what little green scape there is within the inner loop a viable ecosystem as it exists today.

  2. I’m not sure where the our city’s obsession with baseball is coming from. A new downtown ball park? Destruction of heavily used park space for little league fields? I keep hearing the argument that the current CPLL fields are in poor shape. So, when the city basically gives the CPLL park space and CPLL fails to properly maintain and upgrade the space the solution is to give them more space and more funding? I’ll be attending one of the bond meetings at the main library in the coming weeks and I would like to know if there has been discussion about using some of this $2 million to upgrade/renovate the current fields rather than expanding into the trails.

  3. You may want to correct this sentence “The City’s website claims McAllister Park is 976 acres, but hundreds of those acres are controlled by the McAllister Park Little League,”
    to read “The City’s website claims McAllister Park is 976 acres, but approximately 55 of those acres are controlled by the McAllister Park Little League,”
    The other areas are soccer fields, the former TWC park, and the Texas Transportation Museum. In all, these areas comprise over 200 acres of McAllister park land.

    • You’re welcome Don. Thank you for all you do with the youth riding groups within the City of San Antonio. They are a remarkable and an exemplary group of young riders.

  4. Great article, Nelda. Thanks, Rivard Report for a space to share issues and ideas.

    CPLL – willing to head south? There are fantastic facilities at Conception. This part of San Antonio is historic, easy to get to (20 minutes from Thousand Oaks/1604) traffic is light. Plus we have a river to explore after the game.

    • Thank you for this suggestion. Unfortunately, the league has boundary restrictions. So, land or parks Southbound is not an option. Fortunately, there are several groups looking into other park/land suggestions for CPLL and the City to consider.

  5. Nelda: Thanks so much for this story. It will be another crying shame here for long-term quality of life, sustainability and ultimately economic development.

    Don: Thank you for providing the petition link. I’ve signed it and also sent a message to my City Councilmember Mike Gallagher.

    Ride on SA!

    • Thank you for taking the time to read the Commentary, for signing Don’s petition and for messaging Councilman Gallagher.

  6. Great article-very well written and concise explanation of this HORRIBLE plan. I went to the first bond committee meeting, and it was great to see how many people spoke up well and passionately about preserving this city treasure. If anyone reading this is able, please consider coming to the next one on October 17th at Central Library. Check the Friends of McAllister Park Facebook page for more info. And don’t forget to sign Don Losole’s Change.org petition linked in another comment. We have to be the squeaky wheel!

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