Courtesy / Transportation & Capital Improvements Staff and Rialto Studio, Inc.
Officials from Rialto Studio and the City’s Transportation and Capital Improvements (TCI) department updated more than 30 area residents about the park design in a meeting Tuesday at the Wayside Chapel campus on Evans Road.
The voter-approved 2017 city bond allowed the City to buy 39 acres of land in the Classen-Steubing family ranch, the largest undeveloped tract of land in Stone Oak.
The City purchased an extra five acres, while another 204 acres of ranch land went into the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone protection program.
The latest park concept calls for an open play field, three baseball fields with bleachers, an outdoor education center overlooking a small bluff on the property’s eastern edge, and two pavilions with the larger pavilion containing six unisex bathrooms.
The concept also features a landscaped buffer, shaded seating, a park entry monument sign off Hardy Oak Road, three parking lots totaling 160 spaces, and a 10-foot-wide concrete trail circling much of the park.
The far North Side neighborhood has two other City-owned parks, Stone Oak and Panther Springs, but lacks recreational amenities such as soccer and baseball fields and basketball courts that are free and open to use at any time.
Area residents have pushed for Classen-Steubing Ranch Park to include these recreational features and other amenities, such as a dog park, disc golf course, and fitness stations.
David Beyer, project landscape architect for Rialto Studio, said the $5.3 million budget and the land’s topography would support features like the baseball diamonds, an open play field that could be used for soccer, and trail.
An amenity recommended by residents that will be included in the projects first phase is a children’s playground. This playground, which will be inclusive and accessible to all abilities, will be developed and funded by the Mitchell Chang Foundation.
The foundation was started by a local family whose 3-year-old child drowned in a swim school. His parents wanted to pay tribute to Mitchell’s love of play by building playgrounds that are open to all families.
Beyer said the Chang family approached the City about developing such a playground at Classen-Steubing Ranch Park. The playground will have a pirate theme, based on Mitchell Chang’s fondness for pirates.
Park construction is scheduled to begin this fall and be complete by late fall 2021 or early winter 2022.
The City is eyeing a second phase of work, and more features could be added.
None of the attendees, including City Councilman John Courage (D9), who represents the area, were critical of the current park concept.
Residents expressed hope that other agencies and community members will help to further develop the initial phase of Classen-Steubing Ranch Park.
For example, the city wants to eventually tie the planned concrete trail into the Stone Oak Park trail, and a nearby easement could make for an ideal location to develop another trail or a trail extension to the south and east of the Phase I park space.
“I would think [the San Antonio River Authority would] be interested in helping to develop a trail because [SARA controls] that easement,” said Art Downey, chairman of the Stone Oak Property Owners Association board.
Downey and other residents said community groups such as the Boy Scouts could contribute to the cause by helping to build picnic tables for the park.
Any future phase of park development would be supported by another city bond proposal, which is not expected to surface until 2022 at the earliest.
Courage urged residents to start preparing ideas for what they want to see not only in Phase II of Classen-Steubing Ranch Park, but also in the way of road, drainage, and other community and infrastructure bond projects.
“It’s not the City’s intent, but our intent as people living in this district, as the bond program gets developed, to incorporate those kinds of things,” Courage said.
A group to help support community programming at the new park, Friends of Classen-Steubing Ranch Park, is working to promote conservation, management, and improvements of the new park. People seeking details are encouraged to email Downey at firstname.lastname@example.org.