The view of the downtown skyline and Dignowity Park as seen from Lockwood Park. BEN OLIVO | HERON

By late next year, Lockwood and Dignowity parks—two neighboring, near-East Side green spaces separated by Burnett Street—will become one park.

The project is being funded by $4.1 million from the 2017-2022 bond program for construction and design costs in what is described as the first phase of upgrades to the two 4.2-acre parks that are collectively bordered by Nolan, North Hackberry, Hays and North Olive streets in Dignowity Hill.

On Wednesday, the Historic and Design Review Commission (HDRC) approved the conceptual design for the 8.4-acre project, which originated from the East Side advocacy group P.S. East.

Proposed additions to the parks include a new playground, a fenced dog park, walkways, more lighting and power infrastructure, a splash pad—similar to the one at the Pearl—and a restroom facility.

Before installing new equipment and infrastructure, some of the vegetation and trees, brick retaining walls, the original playground, exercise equipment and lighting structures will be removed, and Burnett Street will be demolished.

This diagram shows the new uses for Lockwood (left half) and Dignowity parks after they are joined together. COURTESY TBG ARCHITECTS

Before the HDRC issues gives final approval, Texas-based TBG Partners, the project's lead designer and primary consultant, must submit an updated design that "more clearly" shows which segment of Burnett Street will be set for demolition, and a tree preservation plan developed with the city arborist, according to the Office of Historic Preservation's report of the project.

Elaine Kearney, managing principal of TBG Partners' San Antonio office, said they'll be sending their updated design in 14 weeks, when 75 percent of the construction documents are finished.

Construction is set to begin January 2020, and end in November, Kearney said.

Though the planned improvements are set to completely renovate the parks, several components from the project's initial design have been left out for later "phases" or replaced with other components, including: a shaded pavilion, trellis, amphitheater, "Healthy Korner" kiosk, a "play library," and a farmer's market promenade.

Two years ago, voters approved $3.1 million for the project, which has received an additional $1 million from another District 2 bond project that was canceled. An inquiry to the Transportation and Capital Improvements (TCI) department to identify the project that fell through was not returned.

Nicolas Rivard, director of P.S. East and president of the Dignowity Hill Neighborhood Association, said the current design was "50 percent of the community vision" for the parks' upgrades, but that residents at public engagement meetings were overwhelming supportive of the final concepts.

"This is one thing everyone's lined up behind," Rivard said.

A priority of these residents was a restroom facility at the park, he said. Though a Portland Loo restroom facility is included in the design, Rivard is unsure what restroom facility will be constructed or installed once the design has been updated.

Future public engagement meetings will likely be hosted by the city and TBG Partners after the updated design is submitted, Rivard said. Until then, P.S. East plans to fundraise privately for some of the original design elements.

P.S. East will also seek funding from the city's Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) and Infrastructure Management Program (IMP) programs to support streetscape upgrades on Nolan and Olive streets.

[1] Informational field; [2] "Front porch" with swings; [3] Playground; [4] "Portland Loo" restroom; [5] Harmony Plaza; [6] New walkway; [7] Site lighting; [8] Dog park; [9] "Flexible" lawn; [10] Event power; [11] Picnic area; [12] Splash pad; [13] Existing building to remain; [14] CPS easement. COURTESY TBG ARCHITECTS

Contact Gaige Davila: 956-372-4776 | gaige@saheron.com | @gaigedavila on Twitter

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