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Arts & Culture

San Antonio Botanical Garden To Expand

A culturally iconic San Antonio institution is beginning a process that should see major changes. It all starts with a million dollar grant.

“We’re pleased that last week the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission awarded that grant to the city.”

Bob Brackman Executive Directs the San Antonio Botanical Garden and is talking about a recently-awarded grant secured by the city for the Garden.  That grant will partially pay for a new area to be built called the Family Adventure Garden.

“We’re going to have a 2 and ½ acre facility that’s all about experience, that’s about interactivity, all about engaging the entire family in nature so they can be stewards of nature for the next generations to enjoy.”

I asked Brackman to describe what's going to be built, part-by-part.

“A big hill that’s the Hill Country. You can actually stand on top of that hill and see the entire garden. A water area that resembles when it rains here and disappears into the aquifer, so a small water feature. There will be a pond dipping area as well. There’ll be a dry rock creek. There is a maze, which will be built out of some evergreens, but also the native grasses. Kids can build forts, build fairy huts, have a performance area to perform for their parents and grandparents, and their friends. There’s a Pecan grove with wonderful boulders."

He says too many kids these days just don’t have a real, hands-on relationship with Nature, and that the new garden will encourage them to build one.

“This gives an opportunity to families to run, to roll, to climb, to crawl.”

If you’re wondering where they’re going to fit this new section, it’s outside the borders of what most people think of as the 38-acre Botanical Gardens. But it will be contiguous, just across Funston Place.

“That section on Funston from North New Braunfels to Old Austin Road, that’s been officially closed and abandoned back in 2010—the new improvements will be on that city block just south of the Botanical Garden” said Brackman.

The actual process is way past the concepts phase.

“We’re in the construction documents phase now, So before that it was the conceptual phase, the schematics phase. And if the funding matches with what we need then we’ll hopefully begin construction sometime this summer.”

That million dollar grant carried a commitment by the Botanical center’s support group, the Botanical Society, to match it, which they did.

“It’s a one-to-one match, but the overall project for the Family Adventure Garden takes more money than that.”

That Garden is estimated to cost about 5 million to complete, but it too is a small part of the Botanical Garden’s longer term Master Plan overhaul As to when this phase will be completed...“We’ll start construction in June-July. And if all goes right we can open up in early 2017” he said.

Brackman says that while it’s a major construction project, its location means it won’t disturb the Garden’s other attribute and activities.

“We have family days, we have cultural events, we have a restaurant, or you can just bring a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and sit out on a bench.”

We’ve more on the the San Antonio Botanical Garden here.