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San Antonio City Council Approves Land Swap, Makes Way For Park Near Hays Street Bridge

The San Antonio City Council approved a land swap on Cherry Street near the historic Hays Street Bridge in hopes of rebuilding trust and ending legal battles with East Side residents.

The developer will give up land next to the bridge for a park, while the city will give the developer land closer to the Alamodome for a five-story apartment complex.

The move helps protect views of the bridge — something the residents wanted.

The city also promises affordable housing in the area.

Dignowity Hill resident Natasha Hernandez said her East Side neighborhood is disappearing.

“My family on the East Side has lived through development, eviction, rising property taxes and last May my neighbors on the right, the left and behind me all moved out at once due to rising property taxes and housing costs,” she said.

Nettie Hinton, 80, said she grew up in the neighborhood, which was founded mostly by black families working railroad jobs.

She said the bridge was a way to soar out of regular life in her dad’s old Dodge named Blitz.

"And he would drive us over the Hays Street Bridge because he wanted us to see that there was an elevated type of life we would be able to live at some point,” Hinton said.

Hinton is also a leader of the neighborhood efforts to protect and preserve the bridge and nearby views of it.

Councilman Art Hall amended the proposal to ensure the park will honor black railroad workers and their families who settled in Dignowity Hill.

The historic bridge and nearby land use plans have been the subject of legal battles for years, including one lost by the city decided before the Texas Supreme Court.

Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at Brian@TPR.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian.