Save The Dignowity Hill Park

Urbanism/Urban Design/Public Policy/San Antonio

Last week I saw this from Ben Olivo’s downtown blog. A couple of things stood out to me. The first being the description of the park as ‘forgotten’:

The Dignowity Hill neighborhood has become divided over a preliminary offer by a hotel developer to purchase Healy-Murphy Park — a forgotten pocket park on the near East Side.

When just a few lines later the people who are near the park daily, don’t consider it as such.

“We would have lots of reservations about converting public parkland into private hands,” said Doug Watson, executive director of the Healy-Murphy Center, home to a day care and high school/GED program that abuts the park on two sides. “This just kind of came upon us. There was really no discussion with us,” he said.

The argument from Sherry Chaudhry, the hotel developer, is weak. She feels (pretty obviously) that hotels = positive economic development. From a macro level, sure, it helps San Antonio’s already robust tourism industry to have yet another hotel.

Any one with a little Urban Policy training – or with less of an obvious hotel-related benefit – will tell you that parks are great for communities, neighborhoods, and people individually.

I am not anti-development. I’m anti-one-option-and-one-option only.

Of particular onerousness was the following quote from Jackie Gorman, executive director of SA for Growth on the Eastside:

“The push back I get from developers is that it’s too hard to work with community groups on the East Side,” Gorman said. “Think about the message you are sending to developers and how that is going to impact … your community.”

If that’s not a veiled threat you aren’t reading this on the internet. Having delivered plenty of these types of one-sided ultimatums in my life, I know one when I read it.

“If you don’t want to give up your park for a hotel, you probably don’t want any development ever again.” WUT.