Once-neglected east-side park coming alive with $1M donation

HEB CEO Donates $1M to East-Side Park

SAN ANTONIO -- Once on the brink of closure, one of the oldest parks on the city's east side is coming alive.

Thanks to a generous donor, $1 million will be used for the redevelopment of Lincoln Park, just in time for our tricentennial celebration.

And the money won't stop there.

 The city is also recommending an additional $1 million in improvements for the park as a part of the proposed 2017 bond program. If approved, improvements could total $2 million.

Although neglected for years, from a history standpoint, Lincoln Park has always been rich. The park was acquired by the city in 1927.

For years, Charles English, the Founder and President of the Jefferson Heights Neighborhood Association, has fought to revive Lincoln Park.

"From the 1960's from when we started using it, my mom brought us children here to play," English said.

English worked to get the funding for sidewalks, ADA-compliant amenities and renovations to the park's restrooms and baseball fields.

"This park was foreclosed. We had to fight, we had to bring activity here," said English. "We started with a community fair, the Jefferson Heights Community Fair."

Slowly but surely, his vision for the park is becoming a reality.

"To be a bridge, which happened today, now people know about this park, even though this was the first park that allowed African Americans as early as 1939 when the rest of the community was off limits to African Americans, that's history," he said.

Wednesday morning, H-E-B announced its CEO, Charles Butt, pledged to donate $1 million for the redevelopment of Lincoln Park.

This isn't the first time the CEO has crossed paths with Charles English. The first was when English worked at the H-E-B in Alamo Heights.

"When I was only 15-years-old and he took me under his wing, he was very supportive of me as the only African American at that particular store at that time," said English. "So, when I saw [the donation], I said, 'Wow!'"

The proposed 2017 bond program will capitalize on the city's parks.

"It's not just going to be Lincoln Park, it's going to be Martin Luther King Park and Lockwood and Dignowity Park. So we have $8.2 million scheduled to go into these parks, these three parks. So it's going to be huge projects," said Councilman Alan Warrick of District 2.

English is hoping the funds will bring more lights, benches, trees and an amphitheater to the park. Even, perhaps, a place within the 32 acres to share the park's history with future generations.

The bond will go before voters for approval in May 2017. If approved, improvements to Lincoln Park could be completed by summer of 2018, in time for the city's 300th anniversary.

"I think you all can see that there's a great view here and a lot of green space. So there's a lot of opportunity for there to be other things for young San Antonians and families to enjoy out here at this park," said Mayor Ivy Taylor.

Community meetings will take place in the future so residents can share their input on park redevelopments.

English says the neighborhood association is always looking for donations to improve the park. If you'd like to donate and learn more about their efforts, e-mail JeffersonHeightsAssociation@yahoo.com.

(© 2016 KENS)


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