Maverick Park has a long way to go before it becomes what renderings show as a transformed urban park, but judging from the enthusiasm of the more than 50 people (and some furry friends) attending the crowdfunding launch party at GS1221, Maverick Dog Park is well on its way.
GS1221 owner Frank Pakuszewski donated proceeds from the evening's sales towards the $35,000-first phase of the estimated $225-250,000 park renovation and installation of amenities – for two and four-legged visitors. Alamo Beer Company also matched funds from donated sales. Organizers are still gathering personal checks and final beer sale numbers, but estimate that about $1,750 was raised Tuesday night.
Almost $300 had been raised online before the party and about $1,320 is the total Wednesday morning. Click here to see the fundraising campaign's progress. Construction could start as early as November if the money is raised.
Surrounded by new and under-construction housing projects, a developing cultural corridor on Broadway Street, and I-37/Hwy 281, the three-acre park has been placed squarely in the sites of neighborhood residents, businesses, developers, and the City. While it is supportive of the project, Maverick Dog Park is not technically a City project – it's a community, philanthropic effort. The first phases will focus on fencing and improvements for dogs and future phases will include a small playground, fitness area, and public art area. And yes, there will be shaded seating beyond the pavilion that exists now.
"It all started when we were taking our son to daycare at Madison Square. We looked around the area, noticed that there wasn't a dog park and we said, 'Let's do this,'" said Joe Alderete III. Alderete is a firefighter, the Maverick Dog Park project manager and District 1 representative for the Parks and Recreation Board.
Ashley Riley, asset manager for AREA Real Estate – which owns 1221 Broadway and at least one vacant property near the park on Broadway Street – has worked with Alderete to rally support from the community.
"We've met with so many entities and everyone was supportive," she said, referring to the Parks and Recreation television show character. "We've had no push back."
Larry Clark, principal at Bender Wells Clark Design landscape architecture firm, provided designs for the future park. The firm's office is on 10th and Alamo streets, just one block away from Maverick Park, and founded the Friends of Maverick Park organization about 10 years ago that has raised some money.
"Dog parks are not about dogs as much as they are about people. They're a great place for people to socialize," he said. "And we need these places in the urban environment where these random acts of meeting and then finding out about who your neighbor is can happen."
The park will also be designed to be sustainable in the sense of water use and runoff management – a necessity with all that potential dog poop lying around so close to the San Antonio River – though park users will be asked to pick up after their dogs.
The San Antonio Parks Foundation, as a nonprofit dedicated to further enhance the City's parks, will collect and administer funding for the Maverick Dog Park projects. The City's Midtown TIRZ (tax increment reinvestment zone) has agreed to a $50,000 investment. Maverick Dog Park has also applied for grants from the San Antonio Area Foundation and the 80/20 Foundation – status pending.
Nearby housing project developers including 1221 Broadway, Mosaic, Argyle, River House, and 1800 Broadway have already contributed donations to get the ball rolling. Now it's up to the community to show its support.
Alderete said that since an effort like this is the first of its kind in San Antonio, he's not sure what steps will be next. Once community support is gauged, they'll likely look for corporate sponsorship to fill in the funding gap.
"This (project) is the first of its kind," he said. "We're literally kind of flying by the seat of our pants. We don't know the next step ... It's about getting in that network of San Antonio and then all of a sudden you're goal of $250,000 doesn't look that heavy."
*Featured/top imamge: Melanie Ramirez and Heidi, a Dutch shepherd puppy, enjoy the GS1221 patio with friends. Photo by Iris Dimmick.