April 18


How to build a neighborhood park

Beacon Hill’s recently christened neighborhood-scale linear park didn’t start as a dream so much as a constant complaint.

“For years we had a strip of dirt running through the heart of our neighborhood,” recalls Everett Ives, current president of the Beacon Hill Area Neighborhood Association (BHANA). And a strip of dirt is not just a strip of dirt. The association’s Linear Park Committee Chair, Jerry Locky, refers to the former string of undeveloped lots over a drainage culvert as a “dumping ground” for old mattresses and other bulky domestic waste. One proposal to the city, produced shortly before District 1 Councilwoman Mary Alice Cisneros took up the cause, consists mostly of photos of brownfield lots strewn with trash, alongside sidewalks overgrown and broken to the point of being unusable.

The desire to erase a scar across one of San Antonio’s older neighborhoods soon grew into a powerful vision of intimate public spaces meandering through Beacon Hill. Today those magnets for illegal dumping have become a community garden, an innovative playground, and a basketball court, along with plenty of walkways, benches, and native plants. The path from grievance to vision to reality was long and circuitous.

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