City staff reversed its $2 million bond recommendation to convert a portion of McAllister Park into a private little league baseball field Tuesday, responding to concerns voiced by community members that live near the park.
Opponents of the plan said the allocation would decrease San Antonio’s limited green space to benefit only the Capitol Park Little League and participating families.
“The 2017 bond community process is a vital part of exploring future improvements for our city and is a process that works,” Councilman Mike Gallagher (D10) stated in a news release. “The amount of feedback received and the coordinated action of City staff proves that our community is engaged and that the City is listening.”
The little league is searching for a new location because the landowners of its current field, which is directly east of McAllister Park, will soon be used for other purposes. Capitol Park, which serves about 500 children between ages four and 17, plans to raise $6 million in addition to the City’s bond allocation for a new field. City Manager Sheryl Sculley has said that she is working with the little league, Gallagher, and City staff to identify other possible locations for the new ballpark. It’s possible that Capitol Park would still be funded in part by the City, but now it’s less likely that it will be built in McAllister Park.
The City’s reversal came hours before Capitol Park will hold a rally at its current location off Bulverde Road, calling on its members to “show up in masses.”
“This is a group of mountain bikers and environmentalists who want to preserve the park as is, claiming our new facility will cannibalize six miles of the existing 26-plus miles of bike trails,” Capitol Park President Rob Foster stated in a letter posted on the little league’s website. “Since McAllister Park Little League already resides on the park land, this group is rallying and petitioning in an effort to keep us from building on the park land.”
City staff and the committee can only recommend projects for the bond. City Council will make the final call on which projects make it on the $850 million Municipal Bond ballot item in May 2017.
“The rally is still on, business as usual,” Foster told the Rivard Report. “We’re still fighting (for) and deserving of the $2 million City bond request.”
Foster would not comment on whether Capitol Park will continue fighting for a space in McAllister Park.
Meanwhile, groups hoping to keep Capitol Park out of the the park have received almost 6,000 supporting signatures in a Change.org petition. With 16 baseball fields already etched into McAllister Park’s 976 acres, opponents like Friends of McAllister Park and South Texas Off Road Mountain-Bikers (STORM) say this would mean dedicating tax dollars to restrict parkland from the public.
According to City spokesperson April Alcoser Luna, the City will recommend options to the Parks & Recreation Community Bond Committee at their Oct. 17 meeting.
“Our community has expressed concerns, so we’ve decided not to recommend McAllister Park,” Luna said, “and now our staff is looking into other options.”