Park at Elmendorf Lake reopens to public

Submitted by Don Mathis on January 20, 2017 - 10:06pm

Renovations of the Elmendorf Lake Park Improvements Project, approved by voters in 2012, was celebrated Jan 21 at 10:30 a.m. 
Jeff Tyler, an engineer with the San Antonio River Authority (SARA), described some of the new features at the park.
“The main goal was to get the community close to water,” Tyler said. “New amenities include a floating dock and picnic areas overlooking the lake.”
He said there is also new tilework that brightens up the area. Some of the picnic sites are on cantilevered piers over the water. Children are not forgotten either. 
“We have a splash pad and a new playground for the kids.” 
The history of Elmendorf Lake Park goes back one hundred years. The Lake View Townsite Company conveyed Elmendorf Lake and Lakeside Park to the City of San Antonio in 1917. The transfer stipulated that the City rebuild the dam, plant trees and flowers, lay out sidewalks, and maintain the area. The City of San Antonio has owned and maintained the lake and park ever since. 

PHOTO GALLERY: View a photo gallery of the newly rennovated park below.


Elemendorf Lake Park

The recent renovations are just part of the City’s stewardship of the land. The park today comprises around 30 acres.
The Elmendorf Lake Park Improvements Project, a $14 million investment, included the addition of several pedestrian bridges, miles of trails, a large plaza for public gatherings, and improved lighting. 
“There are tons of new lighting,” Tyler said. “The park will be open until 11:00 p.m. so this will help improve safety.”
Some of the park’s new features, like the expanded parking, may not be readily apparent. 
“The pervious parking lot allows water to percolate into the ground instead of flowing directly into the lake,” Tyler said. “It will trap sediments; it acts as a filter.”  
The Express-News recently ran an article with the headline, “Some pollution in four West Side creeks found to be toxic to fish.” Many features at Elmendorf Lake will reduce the effects of such contamination. Lake fountains and aeration bubblers will help improve water quality. 
“The fountain increases the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water,” Tyler said. “Diffusers increase the circulation of water in the lake. This will provide a healthier habitat for the fish and wildlife.”  
Other renovations to Elmendorf Lake Park, such as rain gardens and bioswales will improve the environment. 
Rain gardens filter runoff from streets and parking. They reduce the speed of flash flooding and are beneficial to plants and animals by removing toxins and pollutants. Bioswales are landscape elements designed to concentrate or remove silt and impurities from surface runoff water.
“Bioswales reduce pollution,” Tyler said. “Bio-retention improves water quality by reducing contaminants.” 
Water will also be recirculated through a wetland adding to the movement of water in the lake. SARA served as the project manager for the development of the improvements and managed the design and construction of these projects to ensure they were consistent with the Westside Creeks Restoration Project plans. Terra Design Group and Arcadis also worked on the park design.
Additional trails mean that walkers, joggers, and bicyclists will be able to safely cross underneath Commerce Street and 24th Street. The new trails and pedestrian bridges will connect commercial establishments to the campus of Our Lady of the Lake University. 

PHOTO GALLERY: View additional photos of the park below. 

Elemendorf Lake Park (part two)


Elmendorf Lake Park also connects to the recently opened Apache Creek Trail. This beautiful, wide sidewalk runs all the way to the walkway on the Mission Reach. 

Other improvements to Elmendorf Lake contribute to the environment as well. 
“We did a lot of bank stabilization and invasive vegetation removal,” Tyler said.  
He said the heavy rains last year caused some delay to the reopening. 
“We had some weather delays last year,” he said. “And we incorporated a couple of other features.” 
The new park extends from 19th Street to Commerce Street. A map showing the new features can be found here.
The celebration of the park’s reopening is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 21, beginning at 10:30 a.m. 
“Only in South Texas can you have a January opening for a park,” Tyler said. 
Events will be dependent on the weather but visitors can expect elected officials, representatives from Our Lady of the Lake University, and other groups to be there. 
“There will be fitness activities as well,” Tyler added. 
Elmendorf Lake Park is located at 3700 W. Commerce. Contact San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department for more details. 

**Cover Image: A view from the newly rennovated Elmendorf Lake Park. Photo by B. Kay Richter.