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Bexar County Eyes Historic Ranch For Possible 600-Acre Rustic Park

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Bexar County may purchase a 600-acre historic ranch on the far Northwest side to convert into a rustic county park. The property's location as between Toutant Beauregard Road and Boerne Stage Road.

The park would be twice the size of Phil Hardberger Park, one of the largest city parks in San Antonio.

Bexar County Commissioners in early August are expected to hear an update on the possible purchase of a 600-acre historic ranch on the far Northwest side to convert into a rustic county park.

County Judge Nelson Wolff questioned County Parks Director Betty Bueche at the July 13 commissioners meeting about efforts by the county to purchase the ranch from a foundation headed by a member of the famous Maverick family.

The family name coined the term "maverick," meaning independent-minded person. The Texas State Historical Association reports the term is connected to a herd of cattle owned by politician and land baron Samuel Maverick that were allowed to roam unbranded, which was unconventional. When other ranchers came across an unbranded cow, they said it must be a "Maverick."

Bueche told Wolff her staff was working on a grant application for $5 million that could be applied to the purchase. She expects to report on progress at the Aug. 4 commissioners meeting.

She described the property's location as between Toutant Beauregard Road and Boerne Stage Road

Bueche said some planning has been done, including a spot on the ranch for a visitor education center if the purchase can be completed.

"We have already been doing that planning and we've done the diagrammatic sketches of what's allowable and what's not. There is actually a 5-acre parcel that's included in that, but does not have a conservation easement and on that 5 acres is where we would propose the visitor education center where school groups from the entire region would benefit," Bueche told commissioners.

Wolff said he would like to see the property undergo little development and feature some trails if the purchase happens.

The Texas Nature Conservancy and Audubon Society would join the county in park operations. It would be twice the size of Phil Hardberger Park, one of the largest city parks in San Antonio, which has 311 acres.

Opossums, rabbits, deer and coyotes have all been spotted crossing the months old Robert L.B. Tobin Land Bridge at Phil Hardberger Park.

Bueche's comments to Wolff came after a presentation on a 10-year master plan for the county park system, which will guide future improvements based largely on public surveys.

The plan was needed to keep the park system eligible for matching grants from the state and other contributors.

Commissioners approved the plan that calls for three new flagship parks to replace large pavilions at Rodriguez, Russell and Comanche Parks.

It also details the completion of the remaining 55 miles of the Howard Peak Greenways Trail System, additional conservation at Hot Wells, and a Native American cultural center, possibly at Padre Park.

The total value of the projects contained in the plan and spread over a decade is pegged at nearly $317 million dollars, with $240 million for the county-wide river and creek program, the Greenway trails system, and watershed protection. Grants and partnerships would contribute largely to the projects.

A report on the master plan found the county's 16 parks and three civic centers host 3,900 events each year and attract two million annual visitors. Those visitors generate $102 million in economic revenue and an additional $33 million from amateur sports.

Public surveys related to the master plan found county parks in need of more shade, more playgrounds, and more picnic space.

There are a total of 32,540 acres of park in Bexar County, operated by the state, county, cities, schools and nonprofits.

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