“What Lila wants, Lila gets,” Bexar County judge and fellow mayoral alum Nelson Wolff once said of Ms. Cockrell, who these days holds court at the San Antonio Parks Foundation and the River Oversight Committee. Hell, he probably says it a lot, but we happened to witness it at the arts-community unveiling of the successful spring campaign to extend the Venue Tax — a levy on car and room rentals in the Alamo City that will pay for, among other things, new trails near and along the river between Pearl Brewery and Hildebrand – otherwise known as the Park Segment of the Museum Reach. [See, say it with me: “It’s for the birds,” April 30, 2008.]
As frequent Current readers, Audubon fans, and residents of the River Road neighborhood know, that stretch of future hike-and-bike heaven has been contentious because the City already gave away the Brackenridge Good-walk-spoiled to the Municipal Golf Association, which no-way-no-how will have citizens sans clubs trekking between its $4.5-million Tillinghast fairways (even if they can duck like George Motherfucking Bush).
That concession left one of two routes available to get from Pearl to Brackenridge:
1) through a narrow western canyon between Highway 281 and the back nine, along the southern edge of our favorite eccentric SA enclave, across a quaint WPA-era weir dam, and up the Avenue A bird sanctuary/fishery/lovers’ lane.
OR 2) easterly, again along 281 for a shorter stretch, winding between some trees, before playing hard-to-get with the Avenue B bike lane and the Catalpa-Pershing sluice.
The Avenue B supporters, which have enjoyed an unspoken the-enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend alliance with the MGA, were unexpectedly victorious at the subcommittee level, despite the opposition of yet another former mayor (Howard Peak), who likes the Avenue A route because it comes as close to a complete river trail as the MGA deal will allow. The Avenue B diehard defensive line showed up at Monday night’s River Oversight Committee meeting to protect their hard-won concessions from backsliding.
They needn’t have worried.
What Lila wanted at the ROC -- which she chaired in a fashion that would do both Churchill and Thatcher proud -- was to give the public process its due. She pressed the Committee to acknowledge that the City has done its part to collect citizen input, and then closed with finesse. “I would say probably not everyone got what they wanted,” she said, after noting that there was nonetheless “a large area of agreement” around the Avenue B route. Consensus? she suggested. And before you could say “democracy,” it was over.
The final plan – about which there are many questions, such as how much and what kind of fencing the MGA will get between the public paths and the golf course – still has to run the Committee of Six gauntlet, as well as the bodies they represent: the County, the City, and SARA. But you know what Nelson says …