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The A Team: where the rubber meets the crushed granite

While it's might tempting to dig a big shovel into the latest pile of angry, accusatory, gettin-personal emails over the Park Reach Hike & Bike Trail, I'm going to force myself to stick to the comparatively dry facts here (read: you'll find the dish in next week's Queque).

As the Queque reported a couple of months ago, a Park Reach subcommittee was appointed to the task of reconciling the contrary claims of birders, River Road residents, and Brackenridge Golf Course stewards over the trail's route, which will connect Brackenridge Park's spruced-up environs with the rest of the San Antonio River improvements to the south.

A nigh-legendary coalition of River Road residents has objected to what's known as the Avenue A route -- which would skirt the western edge of the golf course before cutting across the southern boundary of their neighborhood, crossing the river and heading up Avenue to Mulberry and the park -- in no small part because they don't want outsiders traipsing into their quirky, sheltered enclave. Avid birders, who note that Avenue, small and neglected though it is, is a nationally recognized layover for befeathered migratory species, are united in their concern that trail construction and heavier foot traffic could ruin the avian habitat. The Municipal Golf Association, which operates the recently remade golf course, says it doesn't care which path or paths is/are approved as long as they don't cross the course.

Months of negotiations, and now the subcommittee meetings, have forged a proposed compromise that will be presented at a public meeting Monday, November 10: A "primitive" crushed-granite foot path along the Avenue A route, and a paved bike trail up Avenue B, which runs along the Eastern edge of the course. The proposal includes some items that have long been desired by area residents, including a sidewalk along the south side of Mulberry between Red Oak and Avenue B, and street crossings on Mulberry, a narrow, busy road that can be unexpectedly treacherous to navigate on foot or bike.

But many River Road denizens are still unhappy with the details that have trickled out. Resident Bill Sibley sent a copy of a petition this week with 40-odd signatures opposing the Avenue A route to City Manager Sheryl Sculley. They remain concerned that a trail along the golf-course's western back nine, paralleling Highway 281 and partially within the highway's right-of-way, will be unattractive and dangerous -- and since MGA's insistence that the trail be bounded by a fence on the golf-course side hasn't been resolved, hikers could be trapped between two fences in that stretch.

MGA head Reid Meyers has already compromised on the trail's placement, which he originally insisted would have to fall outside the golf-course property (it will now mostly follow the fence line, half on the course, half off), but in a conversation yesterday with the Current, he was holding firm on the fence.

His influential fellow subcommittee members -- Witte President Marise McDermott and former Mayor and Father of the Linear River Park Howard Peak -- sound positively uninterested in a second fence for the golf course, however, and in the end it may come down to money. This portion of the river improvements is funded with approximately $12 million in funds from this past spring's visitor-tax extension. Following Monday's meeting and public-input session, the plans go to the reality stage, said McDermott, where architects figure out what's feasible and how much it will cost.

The Park Segment Subcommittee of the Museum Reach presents its recommendations for a trail system from Josephine Street through Brackenridge to Hildebrand Ave.
6pm Mon, Nov 10
Witte Museum
More info: Jim Doersam, SA River Authority: (210) 302-3618

Posted by Elaine Wolff on 11/7/2008 12:28:57 PM
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