San Antonio.- After combing the imaginations of hundreds of San Antonians, Texas Public Radio (TPR) presented the five finalists for the Lighter! Quicker! Cheaper! Initiative. Representing proposals from the people for the people, the five final ideas re-imagined community spaces to enhance the San Antonio we know and love. Now all that’s left to do is vote!
TPR together with the City, the Project for Public Spaces, and the American Institute of Architects San Antonio put forth the five final innovative and creative proposals: the Dignowity and Lockwood Connection, Little Free Libraries, the Olmos Bat Roost, the Quintana Community Garden and Outdoor Classroom and the Victoria Dog Park. Hurry, the voting ends at midnight August 5.
Connection! That’s the most important word of the Dignowity and Lockwood Connection proposal as the project revolves around linking the Dignowity and Lockwood Parks by transforming the dividing road into a pedestrian walkway. Ashley Heeren, one of the architects assigned to this project, explains why the word “connection” is so central to the entire idea.
“Our main goal was to start with an idea of connectivity, both to the community surrounding the park and within the two parks themselves,” Heeren said
The two parks will be merged by food trucks, vendors, and seating areas, creating an entirely new atmosphere.
Sameer Paya, another architect on the project, believes the East side is an up and coming neighborhood, and he envisions this walkway helping the area really take off.
Rather than reinventing a specific space like the pedestrian parkway does, the second proposal would reinvent people’s minds by changing how people read. Little Free Libraries is a nationwide initiative in which small bookstands are set up across the city. People donate books to the bookstands and in turn borrow books to their heart’s desire.
“A community owned endeavor to basically change books like in a fundamental sense,” Steven Marrone, an architect assigned to the project, said while describing Little Free Libraries.
Little Free Libraries not only changes how an entire city reads, it also promotes literacy and community. Because of its size, Little Free Libraries can exist in places where large public libraries cannot. No longer will you have to make the trek to the Big Red Enchilada, but instead walk to a book stand just around the corner. There will be no more excuses for you not to start that summer reading!
But if you prefer hands on learning rather than reading about it in books, consider voting for the Olmos Bat Roost. Instead of reading about bats flying over the night sky, you will be able to actually watch hundreds of bats soar at dusk if this project is implemented.
“Bat roosts have been part of the South Texas landscape since the mid 19th century,” the project proposal explains.
In addition to being part of our history, bat roosts are also incredibly important to sustaining our local ecosystem. Nobody can complain if these flying creatures help control the mosquito population. Jaime Sartory, one of the project’s architects, says the design will remain true to traditional bat roosts. He envisions a towering 20 ft. tall, 60 ft. long, and 5 ft. wide cedar and steel frame.
Similar to the bat roost, the Quintana Community Garden and Outdoor Classroom also endorses hands on learning by creating an educational garden with informative kiosks at Dwight Middle School. The project would not only serve to educate and bring together kids but would also bring together the surrounding community.
Nick Melde, one of the project’s architects, explains that the Quintana Community Garden will provide seasonal produce that can be cultivated year round. In addition, the garden will be entirely self-sustained by rainwater collection and in the future the lights will be fueled by solar power and wind turbines.
Unlike all the other projects, the final proposal doesn’t directly cater to people. Instead the Victoria Dog Park would create a canine haven. While dogs prance about the city oasis, dog owners can relax and mingle. While intended for dogs, this park could turn into a social center for people as well.
Architects Alma Rodriguez, Jesus Pineda, and Andre Bailey describe the park as using fun imagery such as bones and paw prints.
Whether connecting people or connecting dogs, promoting reading or promoting hands on learning, there is no doubt that all five of these proposals promise to reshape San Antonio’s community. The only question that remains is just which one will be chosen to make the difference.
So do your part and vote at www.tpr.org.