23 thoughts on “People Want a Park: San Antonio’s Passion for Hemisfair

  1. More hotels simply make downtown a dead zone for locals, and think of all those additional toilets flushing down Aquifer water, think of the asphalt and parking lots. A park would be brilliant, but we all know how much money talks….

  2. Think sustainability. Our COSA can’t control a little space like Travis Park. It can’t amicably redevelope a little space like La Villita and Market Square. It’s hands are tied about cleaning up the circus around the Alamo…and the list goes on.
    What makes anyone think COSA can successfully long term manage a huge complex like HemisFair. It’s taken 50 years, for crying out loud. And recently the plan still almost fell apart in the lege. The off the record consensus with the downtown business people I talk to
    is COSA can’t manage “squat”. Never has. Never will.
    Shortly Mayor Castro will be moving onward and upward. Another Mayor will come in and have her/his own agenda & eventual legacy. They never want to just inherit a previous one. That smacks of copy cattism. So whatever old business is in the works gets pushed to the back burner. Their new agenda gets the lions share of the tax coffer’s funding.
    So my concern is that although the dream of a Central Park in downtown is wonderful. It’s not real. We have a bunch of parks in downtown that are underutilized for what they were intended and expensive to maintain now. Let’s do a better job with them & then I’d have more confidence that COSA could handle the HemisFair Park biggie.
    Right now I vote “no confidence”.

  3. Is that really an honest assessment of sentiment? I read all the comments through Saturday I think. Not much enthusiasm for the hotel from my reading. Hmmmm. I am still ambivalent about it, don’t think hotel occupancy rates support it and hate the thought of gutting yet another historic building in some creepy Potemkin Trend developing here:/. At least bring back the windows and the corner entrance. The hotel will happen. There’s already too much force behind it at city. Just be more respectful of the original building. Surely architects are clever enough to keep all the old iron columns AND hold up our SALVATION (snark).

  4. I have no problem with construction on top if Joske’s. Maybe I don’t understand the significance of the building but the main argument against it has been that it would take away from the alamo. I find this to be a very poorly constructed argument. If I had any concerns about the hotel, it would be that continues the mindset that downtown is for tourists rather than locals. Hopefully once this is passed, we can continue to focus on downtown housing, hopefully surrounding Hemisfair and Travis.

  5. I’d like to ask a silly question. Who is going to foot the bill to maintain all of this leafy green space in the future HemisFair Park?
    San Antonio is in a semi-arid climate with times of serious water shortages. I can only water my yard one day a week now.
    The two little tiny fountains in La Villita have been shut down for several years. The city horticulturist told me that in last years drought we lost 300 trees in the downtown area. One large beautiful red oak by the main entrance of Hemisfair succumbed to the drought.
    So if COSA redevelops all of this wonderful leafy green space for kick ball and all that, are they prepared to keep it green at all costs? Or in times of severe drought (think climate change) will they have to resort to water restrictions? Will this result in significant grass die off and the kick ball games will be on a dirt field. Will the landscaping be little more than the weedy zeriscape plantings like across the street in La Villita? All if this sounds like a dreamy plan but what are the facts mam? Just give me the facts. How much is it going to cost the tax payers to maintain kick ball fields in downtown San Antonio?
    Again, how much is this all going to cost to maintain? Not to install but what’s the annual maintenance cost? It’s a big park. Do they have the staff to maintain it? Does anyone have a clue? Kick ball field maintenance as opposed to fixing the wash board roads running havoc on the front end of my car along the streets I have to traverse to and from my work. Dream on and pay for your own kick ball fields. Play at your local school or church yard.

  6. For what its worth: Idk about other parks, but Hemisfair is a tourist attraction. I was a 30 year tourist of SA prior to moving here a year ago. I’ve visited hemisfair many times as a tourist. But not once as a resident of SA.

  7. I have yet so see a park in SA reflect this city’s growth, nor have I seen an event held at any downtown park which lives up to even a modicum of this city’s potential, well at least for those of us locals who would like more urban places to congregate.

  8. Well, Hemisfair is already there, so it’s not like the city is starting from scratch. Of all the downtown parks, it has the greatest potential and overall appeal, so I say throw all possible resources toward the project. I don’t see the need for hotels within Hemisfair, though. The space is surrounded on three sides by multiple hotels, so that seems like a political deal.

  9. I am fundamentally opposed to developing/privatizing HemisFair Park with hotels and expensive apartments without a vote by citizens.

  10. If our Mayor could perhaps see past the convention center and hotel money, and realize that a robust and lush parks system will be able to bring not only the traditional tourists; but the tourists who fly half-way across the country to see their favorite bands playing a huge festival in another state (guilty), locals, and even nearby out-of-town visitors alike. One need only drive a few hours away, to our fellow prospering Texas cities, to witness what types of events and functions a great parks system can host.

    I agree that the other parks are underutilized, but that’s why if this issue of Hemisphere is going to be addressed, we should try and get a nice amalgam of an integrated and intertwined parks system. Given the almost year-round beautiful weather of our city and all of the various park locations downtown, there could be simultaneously occurring events just about any weekday or weekend of the year, with Hemisphere serving at the central location, thus recouping cost & fees and in many cases to include a surplus once you factor in entrance fees, vendor fees, etc..

    San Antonio is a unique city in that we do our own thing, in our own time, and that’s just fine with us; and although much of urban redevelopment in major cities began about a decade ago, I’m happy that us locals in SA are finally starting to demand a community presence in our city. Now, the only one’s doing things in their own time and slowing us down are our elected officials, out of tune with what the majority of their constituents seem to want.

  11. Our 22 year old college student attended an event at Hemisfair just recently and said it was “cool” (tuesday brewsday) Good music, food trucks, outdoor activities, bike racks, free parking etc. I think that qualifies for getting locals to congregate; as I read about the event, i would consider it to be more than a modicum of this cities potential… It’s a step in the right direction anyway…

  12. so your post seems to have taken quite a few excerpts out of mine in which to address round-aboutly; i’ll take the bait. 😉 while i’m not old by any means, ‘tuesday brewsday’ sound very ordinary, & along the lines of most events in SA, no? the kind of redundant: music, food, alcohol events usually held in our parks with more high profile events throughout the year, therefore not living up to it’s potential. a better reflection of our growth could be art in the park, or poetry in the park, plays in the park…on a tuesday. while i agree it’s gotten better, our parks usage and development still seems to be limited in scope, and geared to drinking, eating and jamming out. sure more is happening, but just because you’re dying of thirst doesn’t mean you have to drink the first pond water you come across, the city could and should do more. how about some variety and culture in the parks & not just drinking events, for us locals..to congregate…in the urbans and such.

  13. Mention was made of “a great public park with green spaces alive with locals and visitors.” Hello, we have that. Brackenridge Park contains an urban forest, a world class zoo, an amphitheater for concerts, hike and bike trails, and much more. So why do we need to ‘re-imagine’ HemisFair Plaza? If we seriously want balance the tourist industry with the city’s needs, citizens should start using the Convention Center as Party Central for our various festivals.
    I visited the ITC yesterday and asked the front desk if they had any leaks in the ceiling with all the rain Saturday. “Nope,” he said, “not a drop.” So I asked him if the basement got flooded from rising water. Again, the answer was no. So why do we need to tear down the ITC? It seems to be a perfectly good building. The institute serves as the attic of Texas. It is a collection of artifacts from cultures across the state. We should not destroy this treasure just so the tourists can have more convention center space.
    I know tourism is important to San Antonio but so is the ITC! Do locals get to visit the convention center? Not often! But locals use the ‘Back 40’ of the ITC during Folklife Festival and all of HemisFair Plaza during Luminaria. Please do NOT fill up our Plaza with tourist and convention space.

  14. From what I have read – Central Park in NYC is managed by a conservancy. If the city finds a qualified group that can manage the park effectively then hopefully city resources won’t be affected.

    Maybe the Rivard Report should run a few community events to really get public opinion and move things forward.

  15. Well, I have to say that while it may SEEM predictable and mediocre… I have met, been entertained by, been enlightened by; world class musicians, poets, actors, artists, scholars, writers, athletes, you name it; all while drinking, jamming and eating… Never once thinking I was being deprived culturally… to each his own..

  16. The Alamo and the other missions are nominated to be a World Heritage site. There have been economic impact studies that show the positive effect of such a designation would bring, which would be far more than any hotel on top of Joske’s.
    To even consider starting construction on a massive project next to Alamo Plaza at a time when such an important designation hangs in the balance and when World Heritage evaluators will be coming is shocking. Irresponsible, in fact, to take any chances with negatively impacting the possibility of our missions receiving a World Heritage designation.
    Somehow, all the blather about the tower has not yet managed to discuss something that is vital to the future economic and historic importance to our city.

    • The last time i saw figures, Mission San Jose was visited by more than 1.2 million people annually, designation as a World Heritage site can only increase those numbers, by how much is arguable, but these new visitors will most certainly be travelers to San Antonio, looking for a place to stay, and development of a hotel over Joskes does not distract from the experience of the Alamo, it enhances it by increasing hotel competition in SA, which means lower rates, introduction of more amenities, etc…, Another commenter used this turn of phrase, the argument of proximity to the Alamo is poorly constructed, if i am in a “world class city” i expect to see evidence of its prosperity, a gleaming skyscraper, modest as 30 plus stories is by skyscraper standards is at least a step in the right direction. The City Manager, I’m sure with the Mayor’s consent, has conditionally approved the project, the rest of you need to grow a set and stop thinking that the City has any control over the types of business’s that operate around the Alamo, the market dictates that, and if people want to spend their hard earned $$$’s on nonsense, that’s their right, and if you disagree, you’re welcome to open a alternative business and drive Ripley’s and the others out through competition.

  17. It’s wonderful that you and your son are satisfied with the current state of affairs of our parks system & don’t feel culturally deprived; I, and many other constituents, are unfortunately not and feel more should be done. Simple as that. I don’t understand the concern for my mediocre opinion of the parks system. If you like the parks as they are, then good for you; don’t ask for more and accept whatever there already is; conversely, I won’t.

  18. Bring back the gondola and the waffles. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. This was a very successful economic generator, enjoyed by locals and tourists during Hemisfair. Its an historic destination with an ample and fascinating selection of adaptible architecture of different styles, uses and periods of our history. Instead of a hotel, lease these structues as a variety of concessions, that, like the Tower of the Americas and its restaurant, would make the whole campus, a destination site. Link them all together with hike/bike/rickshaw/etc trails and surround them with beautiful gardens, shade trees, fountains and open space. These concessions could be part of a conservancy to help with the maintenaince of the park. The park could also be the continuation of La Villita across the street, which, like the park, was originally a neighborhood, desplaced by tourists, and progress.

  19. Sad that there is no mention of San Antonio’s existing and historic central park – San Pedro Park – and that members of the public photographed actually using
    San Antonio’s public parks are cast as ‘transients’ and ‘vagrants’ by the photographer and author.

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