Feature Photo (above): Burnet Street cuts east-west between Lockwood Park on the north (right) and Dignowity Park on the south (left). Image: Google Streets.
by Adolfo Pesquera
San Antonio (Bexar County) — If not for Burnet Street, which has divided Dignowity Park from Lockwood Park since before anyone can remember, the two would be one.
On Wednesday, the Historic and Design Review Commission will approve a petition for Certificate of Appropriateness on City of San Antonio plans to remodel the two parks and at long last bring them together.
The tasks ahead are many, but the main components require the permanent closure of a one-block segment of Burnett Street between North Olive and North Hackberry streets, and the introduction of a long list of hardscape and landscape modifications.
TBG Partners is the landscape architect on this, one of the East Side’s most prominent green spaces.
The park’s reformation involved extensive public input during its 2018 design phase.
The park as it currently exists (above), and as it would be laid out in the future (below). Courtesy: TBG Partners.
“The elements that emerged focused on the creation of a destination park that appeals to the needs of neighborhood residents as well the ability to host city-wide events such as Luminaria or Beer Fest,” TBG explains in its design narrative.
New features in the park will include a playground, restroom facilities, power infrastructure to support large events, a splash pad located dead center of the park where the streets exists today, fenced dog park, new walkways and lighting.
In addition to removing the street, there are many other existing elements that will go.
“Demolition will include selective removal of shrubby vegetation and trees, especially around the Harmony House plaza where safety concerns exist. Selective demolition of the Brick Retaining walls enclosing Harmony House is also advised. A small number of trees in conflict with the proposed sports field and other new improvements will need to be removed or relocated.
Areas cross-hatched in pink are marked for demolition. Courtesy: TBG Partners.
“Existing concrete site furnishings such as the circle benches at the corner of Nolan and Hackberry as well as the concrete furniture at Harmony House will be removed. The hardscape and existing playground and exercise equipment will be removed, as will all current pole-mounted park lighting. Further
assessment will be required to determine the extent of demolition of the existing irrigation system. Plans also call for the removal of overhead electric poles along Burnett Street and the abandonment of that service,” TBG stated.
In addition to TBG, Lake|Flato was design architect and Jay Louden of Work5Hop was architect of record. The architects segmented the park into nine zones:
The Front Porch
A linear arrangement of porch swings on the high side of the park near Martinez Street Women’s Center are intended to provide social seating for everyone … who wishes to appreciate the views of San Antonio and be near the activity of the playground and splashpad without being right in the fray. Each swing will accommodate two to three users.
The park playscape will combine custom and prefabricated elements that will be integrated into land forms to provide a completely unique play experience. The emphasis will be on selecting structures that have natural materials such as wood, rope, etc wherever possible. Boulders and berms will to help naturalize the play area and to provide informal seating.
The splashpad is conceived as a civic-style interactive fountain. The size is approximately 30 feet in diameter and includes in-grade jets which will make it an interesting and interactive experience for children, while in-grade LED lighting will add activity and interest at night. The splashpad will be designed in conjunction with Kraftsman to meet City of San Antonio standards, including chlorinated and filtered water by use of an underground storage vault and above-ground pump/chemical storage. Backwash will be achieved via release into either a drywell or adjacent planting area as stormwater infrastructure is not available.
We have recommended either a Portland-Loo style restroom (budget permitting), or a port-a-potty with a screened enclosure.
Changing the perception of Harmony Plaza will be key to the success of this project. By increasing visibility into this segment of the park and activating it with regular users, such as dog-owners, it can become a pleasant, shaded “garden room”. The recommendation is to remove all enclosing vegetation, remove the hardscape in favor of decomposed granite, and add string-lighting and moveable tables and chairs.
Site plan of the new unified park, identifying amenities within the park. Courtesy: TBG Partners.
Dog-Nowity Park is a fully fenced dog park with separate areas for small and large dogs. It can be accessed from the existing diagonal walk along the southern end of the park, or via Harmony Plaza. The surfacing is anticipated to be mulch. Accessories will include informal seating, a water fountain with dog bowl, and dog waste bag dispensor.
The informal playfield takes advantage of an area of the park that is relatively flat and clear of trees. Selective removal of a few trees will allow this area to function as an informal field for kicking around a soccer ball or playing flag football.
Event Lawn / Event Power
The arcing pathway defines the edge of a naturally occurring slope where festival or concert-goers might spread out blankets to enjoy a pop-up event with clear sight lines to the bottom of the hill. Event Power located in close proximity to Hackberry will allow vendors to easily set up for large events in the park.
The first priority is to light the major interior pathways and activity zones, such as the playground, splashpad, and dog park. String lights are envisioned at Harmony Plaza. The arcing pathway will be lit with bollards, while all other lighting will be achieved with pedestrian pole lights.
The application to HDRC includes a Four-Page MEP narrative (pages 13-16).