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Hardberger Park $2 Million Away From Meeting Land Bridge Goal

Joey Palacios
Texas Public Radio
Former San Antonio Mayor Phil Hardberger announces the contribution of $3 million from three different trusts and foundations.

The Hardberger Park Conservancy claims that the group is the less than $2 million away from the goal of building a land bridge to connect the parkland divided by a major thoroughfare. Most of the funding for the bridge will come from the 2017 bond package voters approved Saturday.

The 311-acre Hardberger Park is split in half by Wurzbach Parkway. To go from one side to the other, visitors must drive.  The proposed $23 million solution is a land bridge.

“A land bridge is built like the terrain itself. Now underneath it are steel and concrete holding it up. But as you walk across it, you will not know you’re not walking across a normal feature of the landscape,” said former San Antonio Mayor Phil Hardberger.

Hardberger and the Conservancy announced $3 million of support from himself, The Bill Klesse Foundation, and The Voelcker Trust. Without the $13 million contribution from the bond package, the bridge wouldn’t happen, the former mayor claims.

“It couldn’t have been done. Raising ten million dollars is one of the tougher fundraisers I’ve ever had,” Hardberger said.

Story continues below photo.

Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy
A rendering of the Hardberger Park land bridge that would built beginning Spring 2018 if funding is secured by the end of the year.

Some bond opponents said the bridge was unnecessary or excessive.

The original projected cost for the bridge was $25 million but revised construction estimates reduced the price tag to $23 million. The Conservancy offered to raise the $10 million cost that the bond didn’t cover. The group already had $5 million and Tuesday’s addition grew that to $8 million.

At Tuesday's press event, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff has pledged $1 million from Bexar County.

The addition came as a surprise to Hardberger.

“Judge Wolff and I worked on several projects and I had asked him to be here but he didn’t say anything about contributing anything [beforehand,]” Hardberger says

The county funds must be approved by Commissioner’s Court. The Judge expects that vote to take place in September.

“That’s something we’re wrestling now and we’ll be going through. I’ve talked to the county manager a little bit about and talked to the commissioner that represents this area and he’s supportive so hopefully we can make it work,” Wolff said.

If approved, $1 million remains to complete fundraising. Hardberger expects to have the remaining funds by Christmas.  If that happens, construction on the bridge is expected to start in early next year.