San Antonio already is a park-poor city, but unless people can get the attention of City Hall, we could lose yet another piece of McAllister Park to the construction of another privately controlled Little League baseball field. Councilman Mike Gallagher (D10) has invited the community to suggest alternative spaces for the new ballpark, but is he serious?
City staff’s plan is to use $2 million in public funds to give the Capitol Little League a new ballpark, which would further reduce the park’s disappearing wildscape. If the City’s plan goes through, tax dollars will benefit a private organization at the expense of all other park users and the park’s wildlife population. More parkland will become padlocked recreational fields.
City officials are fond of describing the bond process as a citizen-driven exercise, but we are where we are today because of back room dealings that occurred far from public view.
The City’s website claims McAllister Park is 976 acres, but approximately 55 of those acres are controlled by the McAllister Park Little League. Other areas that aren’t always accessible to the public – soccer fields, the former TWC park, and the Texas Transportation Museum – make up more than 200 acres of McAllister park land that aren’t always accessible to the public.
Little League leases the land from the City for next to nothing, locks out the public and leaves the fields unused and inaccessible except when league games are being played. There are 16 Little League baseball fields in the park. Can’t they be shared?
Some of the existing fields were built in the same manner more than a decade ago, with little public input and no warning before the bulldozers showed up to destroy woodlands to make way for more private ball fields. We should not allow this to happen again.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for providing our city’s children with baseball, softball and soccer fields to give them opportunity to be active and social. But McAllister Park is the wrong park to build new fields. Enough of the park has been lost already, and vehicle traffic on league days overwhelms the entire park. The “Keep Out – No Trespassing” treatment of the public in a City-owned park is an insult to every taxpayer.
I hope those of you who have not experienced McAllister Park will do so, either on your bike, using the dog park, or just walking the trails in the wooded areas. Sometimes I drive to the park with my bike, or if I have the time, I ride my bike to the Tobin trailhead and ride north to the park. I also mountain bike. McAllister Park, along with the smaller OP Schnabel Park are the only parks that allow mountain bikes on trails.
While biking through the park trails, I will encounter trail runners, bird watchers, children riding their bikes for middle and high school training sessions, moms strolling with children, families taking nature walks. On any given weekend, I’ll see youth soccer games being played, runners galore, families flying kites, people walking their dogs, playing Frisbee, or having picnics.
Our City’s SA Tomorrow comprehensive plan states, “Conserve, protect, and manage San Antonio’s natural, cultural, and historic resources and open space.” Destroying green space is not an improvement to McAllister Park. It only benefits the private users of Capitol Little League fields and destroys the land, flora, fauna, environment, and disrupts the natural setting for the animals that live and thrive within McAllister Park.
Green space is rare and we should be good stewards. So I ask the City: Please do not destroy our green space for the benefit of a few. And I ask everyone who uses McAllister Park to attend the bond committee meetings and write Mayor Ivy Taylor and your City Council representative. Let them know that the protection and preservation of McAllister Park is in the public interest. It’s a public park, owned by the public, and established for the public good. Let’s keep it that way.
Click here to contact your Council member.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this article stated that hundreds of McAllister Park’s acres are controlled by the McAllister Park Little League. In fact, the league controls 55 acres. Soccer fields, the former TWC park, and the Texas Transportation Museum comprise more than 200 acres of McAllister Park land that aren’t always accessible to the public.
Top image: A baseball field for Capitol Park Little League is proposed to replace the Blue Loop (Vista Trail). Photo from Apple Maps.