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Two reasons to go to City Council tomorrow, and none of them start with "N"

If you were following intrepid Current reporter gharman on Twitter today, you might think that this week's City Hall excitement will set with the sun, but peruse tomorrow's A Session agenda, and you'll find plenty of interest, starting with:

A. The reeducation of HemisFair Park, which turned 40 last year, and just sits there these days, being park-like. We used to think that was an attribute, back when our cities were covered in the offal of industry and automobiles and air quality was terrible and ... ... never mind. The point is, these days we realize that "parks" are just (preferably smallish) accessories that draw the eye and pocketbook to the main attraction: Things That Make Money. Condos, hotels, shops, what have you.
 
So: The City moves forward this week with plans to "revitalize" the old 1968 midway with the creation of a Local Government Corporation that "has the power to buy, sell and accept land a as a non-profit without the restrictions placed on a municipality."

Restrictions it will have to follow include the Open Meetings Act and the Open Records law, so you'll be able to keep an eye on the organization as it hires a contractor to redo the 2004 HF Master Plan, etc. Despite the heady language above, Deputy City Manager Pat DiGiovanni says no decision has been made yet on whether the LGC will acquire or own property (say, those two federal plots that the court and various offices will be vacating), etc.

Proposed board members are: Bill Shown, Xavier Gonzalez, John Laffoon, Deborah Guerrero, Art Hall, Daniel Lopez, Andres Andujar, Gini Garcia, Lisa Schmidt, Madison Smith, and David Zachry.

Rumors are floating about that the Institute of Texan Cultures (where you can visit the AIDS memorial quilt and Leigh Anne Lester's gorgeous work) -- which is located in that 182,000-square-foot isosceles trapezoid on 15 acres at the Southeast end of the park redevelopment area -- would be closing up shop and moving into the UTSA campus on Durango, but ITC Executive Director Tim Gette says they're staying put and moving ahead with plans to seek Tier 1 museum status, and pursuing other exciting developments that will be revealed on a need-to-know basis (i.e. the Institute's wonderful archives and library may get a collection from another Texas institution -- and a cold room, which, no, is not like a bomb shelter for globally warmed South TX residents).

DiGiovanni says that UTSA has not approached them about selling and moving the Institute. Not that the City -- which already purchased the adjacent lot that holds the HemisFair Women's Pavilion from the University -- wouldn't take it.

"From our perspective, it opens up greater development opportunity if they're not there," he said, but, he added, it's a big place and it would take a lot to move them.

Indeed. After talking to Gette, QueBlog doesn't think it can be done. "I would not have come here if I had not thought [the museum's growth and development] was going to take place," he said.

So, good: The condo residents will have easy access to all those great old photos and original texts in ITC's archives. I'd suggest marketing them to our many area educators.

The rest of the park will be remade in keeping with the "vision" and "guiding principles created earlier this year by the HemisFair Redevelopment Ad Hoc Committee. Most notable of those are: Expand and preserve green space (noted elsewhere: the net park land must remain the same), a balance between green space and development, preservation of historic buildings.

Wondering how to parse that? You'll find some clues in the list of abilities that Master Plan candidates must possess, which include:
Create a neighborhood of balanced mixed use development including mixed income housing, commercial, insitutional and civic uses
Creat a new city neighborhood with an embedded City Park that is forthe primary use and enjoyment of residents and also by visitors.

You'll find the agenda and supporting docs here.

And B. At 9am, the City Manager will present her Proposed Budget for the downsized fiscal year that'll begin October 1. A series of Council work sessions and public meetings will follow, leading up to the September budget adoption; get the schedule here.


 

Posted by Elaine Wolff on 8/12/2009 5:34:20 PM
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