Brackenridge Park’s Heritage Trees Spared During Public Input Process

Vocal public support for Brackenridge Park’s heritage trees has so far blocked San Antonio from carrying out a controversial plan to destroy more than 100 of them.

On May 24, San Antonio’s Parks and Recreation and Public Works Department will hold its third meeting for the public to learn and discuss the fate of the trees and the broader Brackenridge 2017 Bond project. However, due to the public’s anger and frustration with the previous meetings’ format, the city is now calling for a fourth meeting for public input. 

During the first meeting on March 22, many people in the audience were upset because there was no microphone for the public. The format only allowed the city to present its project outline. 

Several people walked out after they were told to submit their comments on Post-it notes for the city’s design team to review.

The second meeting on April 26 briefly went over previous comments and site investigations such as trees, walls, and wildlife to give the remaining time for public comment. At that meeting, the public received an apology from Assistant City Manager David Carey regarding the birds.

Previously, city representatives had said the trees needed to be cut down in order to restore old buildings and walls, citing, among other reasons, Deceleration News published emails from the Texas Historical Commission showing that city staff mischaracterized the state agency's position on whether the trees should be cut down.

But an inquiry by Deceleration News found that Parks and Recreation Department Assistant Manager Bill Pennell publicly said the trees needed to be cut down in order to expel Cattle Egret rookeries from the park. 

“I want to validate what you said about the birds,” said Carey. “We wrote it ourselves, it was our mistake but we have to own it.”

The third meeting will begin at 6 p.m. on May 24, 2022 at the Witte Museum’s Prassel Auditorium or you can watch the livestream here. This meeting is expected to discuss the trees and approaches towards Lambert Beach while also addressing the comments they received from the public up to date.

The final meeting date has not been announced, but it is expected sometime in June and will be discussing phase two of the bond project which focuses on the acequia, pumphouse, and lily pond.

View full video of the first two meetings below: