City Council approves $18.3 million construction contract for Hardberger land bridge
The City Council approved an $18.3 million contract Thursday for the construction of the controversial Hardberger Park land bridge, which is expected to be completed by the spring of 2020.
Voters approved $13 million in funding for the project in the 2017 bond program, split between the parks and streets propositions. The Hardberger Park Conservancy leveraged the bond dollars to gather an additional $10 million, including $1 million from Bexar County, $2 million from a Texas Parks and Wildlife grant, $4.2 million in private donations and $2.8 million from the conservancy.
The council approved the construction contract with an 8-1-1 vote. Councilman Greg Brockhouse cast the lone vote against funding the voter-approved project and Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran abstained. Councilman Manny Pelaez was absent.
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Since the idea of a one-of-a-kind land bridge was floated, it’s been met with opposition from people who’ve deemed it the “critter bridge.” They’ve objected to spending tax dollars on the a project “for animals” when there are so many pressing needs in San Antonio.
Officials routinely note that there’s not nearly enough money in the annual budget to cover all the needs across the city.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg said just before the Thursday vote that great cities pursue not only function but also beauty and aesthetics.
“When we look at Hardberger Park, whether you live on the South Side, on the North Side, the West Side or the East Side, you are one of the thousands of people who visit that park every single day, you can rest assured that your feet in that park are not just a testament to that hard work but are also proving up the point that it doesn’t matter where you live in this city — you should have high-quality, healthy and equitable green space,” he said.
As the District 8 councilman during the lead-up to the 2017 bond, Nirenberg said he spent ample time asking residents what they wanted in the massive program. One of the constant responses he said he received was a completion of the original vision for the bifurcated, 300-acre park: a land bridge connecting the two.
Josh Baugh is a staff writer in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. Read him on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @jbaugh