Author of Blog: Daniel Day
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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Hemisfair: Too Much of a Good Thing

Hemisfair: Too Much of a Good Thing

Now for those of you who have seen the posting of a meeting about the Hemisfair of the Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation.   (Image 16-1) Some aren't aware of the fact that they're planning to do a whole lot of changes some of which changes are good to see like the destruction of the old convention center, while other decision to allow cars into the park are disaster waiting to happen.  But do we really need to spend so much money on a great park already? 

When I give some thought to the reason why we plan so much at so much cost, not just with Hemisfair, but with the Trans-Texas Corridor, the streetcar, and much much more, the answer I come up with, "this is Texas; big things come from Texas and that includes thinking big."  But is it also construction firms that is influencing these big decisions?   With so much cost being considered, the question should be asked, will we even see it all of it and do we even need so much?  There is a saying "too much of a good thing hurts." 

Here is the thing, Hemisfair is already a great place, we just need to activate it.  You see we have all the elements of a great place which are people, buildings that are close together, a playground, (Image 16-3) and parkland.  You see the only group of people to come along and to activate the place was the Occupy Movement who went into the boarded old houses to set up camp.  Right now, it's a collection of City government buildings and boarded up Victorian homes. (Image 16-2)  The only part of Hemisfair that is activated is the Tower of Americas. (Image 16-5) It's not just an observation post, but also a place to sit and enjoy the the fountains, but to buy some ice cream and maybe enjoy some live music.

As the planning firm looks out far and wide to "over" improve the park, they don't have to look far but across the stroad of South Alamo to La Villita. (Image 16-4)  There, they will find a place that is activated and thriving with businesses in each of the old buildings.  Take that successful place, and do the same thing with the old Victorian houses in Hemisfair.  Before we do this, lets bring the houses up to code.  That should take a least, what a Million, maybe two for all the abandoned Victorian homes?  Lets use the same rule that La Villita uses when choosing shops and restaurants which are locally own and artisan type places.  And then from there, let the place grow and flourish, and allow failure to occur and learn from that failure.  This old building sits next to the Federal building, wouldn't it make a good bookstore? (Image 16-6)

As the Federal Government moves out of Hemisfair, get those buildings to a developing firm and make sure they turn some of those floors of the big white building where I got my first Social Security card, as both offices and apartments and make sure the apartments are low rent for some of the units.  Don't stand in the way, only make sure that the  firm promises to deliver and if they don't, well fire them.  Let them decide what to do with the buildings and let the pieces fall where they may.  What we need here isn't an orderly, dumb direction from the top down, but chaotic and smart direction from the bottom up. 

I'm not against these big ideals that have been put forth like tearing down the old convention center and turning that into a park or their crazy playground concept.  But allowing vehicular traffic back onto Hemisfair will be the biggest mistake they will make. I guess they haven't seen the problems of traffic congestion that is experience downtown on numerous occasions especially during the spring holidays when traffic gets backed up on Commerce, Houston and even Market St.  Ask yourselves, do we really want to see a traffic jam on Houston St in Hemisfair?  In essences, we'll be taking a great place and turning it into a parking lot.  Last I check, parking lots aren't places we go specifically to visit unless they clear out the cars and put up rides and little tents with food stands and vendors, you know like the Pearl Farmers market or the Quarry Farmers market.  Like the Farmers Market in Austin with this car parked in the middle of it, (Image 16-7) it clearly shows how cars simply take up too much space and seems to ruin the greatness of  the event.

With cars allowed onto Hemisfair, we will be surrendering valuable space for pedestrians.  With that space gone, pedestrians will start to walk in front of cars, and thus an accident will occur where one shouldn't have occurred in the first place.  I guarantee that the solution will not be to remove the cars, but to remove the pedestrians by limiting their access on the the vehicle lanes, giving tickets out to pedestrians for jaywalking and putting up crosswalks with beggars buttons and having the pedestrians beg to cross the street. You call these buttons, "crosswalk buttons,"(Image 16-8) but lets face it, they really should be called beggar buttons because you the pedestrians are asking cars to stop so you can safely walk across public space.  

To me, these plans for a better Hemisfair seems to be very out of  proportion.  We don't need a nuclear bomb to destroy the whole place and then rebuild from scratch it to activate it, but make simple repairs and a willingness to to fail and learn from that failure.  With the citizens of San Antonio being allergic to high priced public projects unless it's a new freeway, chances are we'll not see the entire vision what is being presented by hemisfair.org.  When city of San Antonio is willing to take small steps instead of huge alternations, then and only then will San Antonio realize the greatness it processes.

Go Fund Me Campaign

It still up, and I could use the help to be able to take some pictures I need to illustrate the my story on the Streetcar issue.  It's going to be a three part story, and the first of these stories should be posted some time around August 6th.  If you want to help me out, please help pay for my Greyhound ticket at http://www.gofundme.com/b8rmq4

Via Picture Update.  

Remember the picture of the Via Supervisor trucks parked on the sidewalk on Commerce St (Image 15-3) from my last posting?  Well since posting that picture on this blog and on my twitter feed, they have since stopped parking on the sidewalk.(Image 16-9)  So tweet to via and say, thanks for not parking on the sidewalk. 

16-1:  Hemisfair Flyer of the Meeting on July 29, 2014
16-2:  One of the Many Old Victorian Houses that are boarded up in Hemisfair Park, this one behind the Magic Theater. Looking Southwest. 
16-3:  The Downtown All Around Playground, Looking South
16-4:  A shop inside La Villita behind the Church there. Looking North
16-5:  A View looking south of people walking in front of the fountains that circle the Tower of the Americas. Looking South
16-6:  A building looking to be abandoned next to the Federal Building. Looking east.
16-7:  A car left parked on 4th St next to Republic Square.  The Farmers simply set up shop around the car.  Looking southeast. 
16-8:  The Crosswalk button which should be called a Beggars Button to cross S Alamo from Hemisfair to Nueva on the North side.  Looking South.  Thanks To @PedestrianError for the name of this device. 
 16-9:  A way a sidewalk should look, with out Via's Supervisor's Trucks park on it.  E Commerce St At St Mary's St, Looking South. 

 Up Coming Important Meetings
If you want to make a difference, please attend. 

Hemisfair Public Work Session:
When:   Tuesday, July 29, 2014  6PM-8PM
Where:  The Depot at Sunset Station, 1174 E Commerce, San Antonio, TX
What Should You Say:  The biggest thing is having cars come into the park.  This is the worse decision ever for if anybody know from experience, cars make a place unsafe and make people uncomfortable.  They don't let cars into La Villita, so why should cars be allowed here.  Also asking for La Villita types shops in the abandoned houses would be a plus too. 

Lee's Creek, Joe Ward and Sunset Hills Parks Plan Review Public Meeting
When:  Wednesday, August 20, 2014 6:00 PM
Where:  Joe Ward Community Center,  435 E. Sunshine, San Antonio, TX 78228
What Should You Ask For:  The thing to ask for at this meeting are good sidewalks,  20 mile per hour speed limits and safe ways to get to the park down Hillcrest and St Cloud such as bike lanes down those stroads.  

Up Coming Bicycle Events

 Cycle In-Cinema .  
When:   Every Thursday, June-August at Dusk, 8:45pm
Where:  Main Plaza, 115 N Main Ave, 78205
Description:  Out Door Movie.  

FrankenBike #51
When:   Saturday August 16, 2014  10AM to 4PM
Where:  Earn A Bike Coop ~ 2619 Guadalupe St ~ 78207
Description:  San Antonio's Bicycle Swap Meet and Flea Market

1 comment:

  1. Hello and thank you so much for your interest in the project! We read your blog and we're so glad you are coming tonight to chime in and weigh the options for the civic park. Just to clarify though, streets will not be built on parkland. The Hemisfair site will be much more than just a park, it will be a district with multiple parks and other amenities. Reintroducing “complete streets” to the district allows for better access and connectivity to park areas from surrounding neighborhoods, and accessibility for all modes of transportation including pedestrian, bicycle, wheelchair, and vehicular. The park we will be focusing on tonight--the 2nd of Hemisfair's park series--is on the site of the existing Convention Center and will not have streets going through it. Finally, the streets within the district will be "complete streets" unlike any model that exists in San Antonio. They will be lined with patios and cafes, easily convertible for fairs, with no curbs, and on street parking. Their goal is accessibility to the parks at Hemisfair--not a shortcut through them. We hope that this addresses some of your concerns, but we are happy to talk more about this with you tonight. Thank you again for your interest and enthusiasm for Hemisfair's transformation!