We live in San Antonio and love Brackenridge Park.
HISTORY OF BRACKENRIDGE PARK
Situated just below the headwaters of the San Antonio River, the site of Brackenridge Park has been a gathering place since Native Americans lived in the area. In the sixteenth century, Spanish settlers established a sophisticated water system there, remnants of which remain today. In 1899 George W. Brackenridge of the San Antonio Water Works Company donated 199 acres to the city for recreational use. The park’s first improvements were led by City Park Commissioner Ludwig Mahnke, who established a wild-game preserve and developed curvilinear paths and drives that wound through the trees along the river.
Beginning in 1915, Commissioner Ray Lambert used local rough-cut stone for walls and structures throughout the park, giving it a distinctly rustic character. Lambert converted a former rock quarry to the Japanese Tea Garden, and transformed the wild game preserve into the 35-acre San Antonio Zoo. He is also responsible for the oldest municipal golf course in Texas, designed in 1916 by A. W. Tillinghast and John Colligan; the Sunken Garden Theater, carved out of the quarry in the 1930s; the Witte Museum, opened in 1926; and the Joske Pavilion.
The 500-acre park is San Antonio’s largest, with roughly equal parts woodland, zoo, theater, and other facilities. Its rustic character remains intact, with tree-lined paths, places for picnicking, playgrounds and athletic fields, and approximately 2 mile miniature railway. The Japanese Tea Garden, a bridge designed by Dionicio Rodriguez, and the Water Works Pump Station are individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Brackenridge park and the San Antonio Zoo are home to more than 3,500 animals and 750 species.
Brackenridge park sits along side Trinity University, Incarnate Word University, and several historic sites and neighborhoods including Monte Vista and River Road. Tobin Hill, Alta Vista, Mahncke Park, and Government Hill neighborhoods also border the park.
PLANS TO TURN BELOVED PARK INTO CONCERT AND EVENT VENUE FOR 7,000 ARE IN THE WORKS
The Brackenridge Park Conservancy wants to demolish the historic Sunken Garden Theater at Brackenridge Park to develop a concert stadium to hold 7,000 visitors. The Park Conservancy has planned a minimum of 2 concerts per week, with a minimum of 48 - 60 events between April and October. This is not a space for small, local artists, but a venue for stadium style events.
The Park Conservancy has billed this project as a ‘theater restoration' but it is instead a scheme to transform the public park venue into a large event space managed by a private company, funded by taxpayers. 'Restoration’ is not their goal.
No public input was sought in the planning of this project and its potential impacts on the surrounding areas. No sound, traffic or parking impact studies have been shared with the public.
The project would create damaging noise pollution that would impact neighborhoods and wildlife throughout the area. The San Antonio Zoo is next door, and such constant amplification is animal abuse, with problems including hearing loss, increased stress, nervous system damage, aggravated heart rates, and more. This is the same for the people living in the neighborhoods nearby.
Traffic and congestion throughout highway 281, North St. Mary's St., Mulberry Ave., Broadway, and the entire area, would create a life safety crisis in emergencies for residents, employees, and students in the surrounding neighborhoods.
And perhaps of gravest concern: how this project will deter low-to-mid income city residents from visiting the park, as they have for generations. The limited parking and traffic will prioritize ticket holders above those who wish to visit the park for free. It creates deep inequality in our most treasured centrally located park.
This proposal will go before the City Council for on January 20, 2022 and they will decide if it should move forward on the city bond for 2022. Please write to your city councilperson now and ask them to oppose the Sunken Garden theater expansion.