San Antonio City Council has approved that $18 million 'land bridge' over Wurzbach Parkway to connect two parts of Hardberger Park, but approval came amid questions about appropriate public spending, and the definition of 'approval by the voters' in a bond issue, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Mayor Nirenberg says the bridge, which will be built to allow both people and wildlife to cross the busy highway, will help make San Antonio more attractive to residents and visitors.
"Parks now across the city today are now destinations for people who live here, no matter where they live in the city," he said, citing the number of residents from the south and west side who travel to Hardberger Park, as well as the park becoming a destination for visitors.
The bulk of the money will come from private donations raised by former Mayor Phil Hardberger and the Hardberger Park Conservancy, but some taxpayer money will in included as well, money from the city's most recent bond package.
But Councilman Greg Brockhouse bristled when city staffers kept referring to the the land bridge as having been 'approved by the voters.'
He says money for the land bridge was one of dozens of projects listed on the bond ballot, and voters would have had to say 'no' to pothole repair and other priorities if they wanted to say 'no' to the land bridge.
"When you bury these projects among 64 others, you're asking citizens to take a vote, and they would have to kill 63 others to approve this," he said.
The bridge will be covered with plants and foliage to encourage wildlife to use it to cross Wurzbach Parkway. A large number of dead animals have been found on the highway since the roadway and the park opened.
The land bridge is also being singled out by the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association and by supporters of its charter amendment that would make citizen review of City Council decisions a lot easier. Supporters call it a 'bridge for critters' and cite it as a perfect example of out of control city spending that has to be curtailed.
Brockhouse says many of his constituents don't disagree with that statement.
"I know if I ask in my community, the bulk of the feedback I get on this, is it is just a wrong allocation of these resources," he said.Construction on the land bridge is set to begin next month.
PHOTO: HARDBERGER PARK CONSERVANCY