What was a dangerous, life-threatening ditch is now a point of pride on the east side.
Tuesday, the Spurs Coyote fired up a happy crowd while city and county leaders dedicated a new Menger Creek linear park and playground in the 1500 block of Walters Street.
The city and the county both pitched in to make this dream come true. Most of the $7.5 million dollars invested here came from a 2012 bond initiative. The linear park runs from Walters Street on the west, almost to the AT&T Center on the east.
Mary Emerson, who has been a neighborhood activist for more than forty years, called this a very good day.
"This is a great day for Harvard Place / Eastlawn Neighborhood Association and for the east side of San Antonio because it will help our young children and they need that,” Emerson said.
Emerson said for years, neighborhood children have been playing in the streets because there have been no parks in the area. She said the kids have been playing on the new basketball court for weeks, even though it wasn’t formally open.
“Instead of in the afternoons running up and down the streets, they come and play and meet with friends and socialize and learn how to be gentle and kind."
Aaron Harden, who attends the Young Men’s Leadership Academy nearby, said, "It could keep some of the kids out of trouble and they can come over here and hoop a little bit."
But more than playgrounds and walking trails, this project has taken almost fifty modest homes out of the floodplain by changing the way storm water moves through the Eastpoint Revitalization zone.
Planners said the changes could save lives during storms, and when it is not raining, the pavilions and pathways will be a source of community pride.
Long-time resident Johnnie Carter said, "In my 93 years, this is one of the best and I think it's because of the people that we have that have served this area so much. They have taken a lead in everything and it's going to get better because we have had enough.”
Carter said generations of children will benefit.
“It will benefit the kids. They can come in their own area from school and have all the fun they want. They will play some of everything right here. This is just a sample of what will come,” Carter said.
Redell Ervin attends church next door to the new park. Ervin brought her two-year-old grandson, Brochick to enjoy the day. Ervin said, "Another thing that's so nice about this place is because the church is right across the fence over there."
The trailhead for the new park is located at the corner of North Walters and Gabriel streets.
More information about the park can be found in the dedication invitation.