San Antonio.- City officials ceremoniously broke ground over the weekend to mark the beginning of a project to create first public nature center in San Antonio, the Urban Ecology Center to be nestled in scenic Phil Hardberger Park West, 8400 N.W. Military Highway.
Guided nature hikes for the public and free gifts of native plants were given away to mark the event while former Mayor Phil Hardberger and City Councilwoman Elisa Chan made remarks celebrating the start of this new facility, which will include a multi-purpose classroom and community room, staff offices and restrooms.
The model green building, designed by Lake/Flato Architects, will feature a water harvesting and reclamation system.
“The Urban Ecology Center will serve as the educational hub of Hardberger Park,” says San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department Director Xavier Urrutia. “The center will provide a much needed focal point for teaching generations to come about the importance of safeguarding our precious natural resources and living in harmony with nature.”
The project budget is $2.9 million, which includes a $1 million grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Additionally, the San Antonio Water System dedicated $100,000 to a demonstration project at the center where SAWS will provide educational sessions and classes focused on water conservation by demonstrating water saving techniques implemented at the center.
Site preparations are expected to begin immediately following the groundbreaking with the Texas Forestry Service leading brush clearing. The park’s oak savannah will be expanded as part of this project, with the planting slated for Texas Public Lands Day in September.
Construction of the center is expected to be completed in May 2014.
Artists's rendering courtesy of www.philhardbergerpark.org.