Members of the Hays Street Bridge Restoration Group lined the steps of San Antonio City Hall Monday to demand a public vote on the use of the vacant land adjacent to the historic bridge. The group wants a park in the open space, not a brewery.
Dozens of citizens crowded into city council chambers in early August to comment on use of the vacant land adjacent to the Hays St. Bridge. At that meeting, council members voted in favor of an ordinance that would allow the city to transfer the parcel to Alamo Beer Company, based on owner Eugene Simor’s proposal to build a brewery and multi-use complex on the site.
"We're getting one of our last signatures here," said Gary Houston, a founder of the Hays Street Bridge Restoration Group. "We have 2,800 plus 1."
On Monday Houston joined other members outside City Hall to announce they had gathered signatures on a petition in hopes of forcing the ordinance to a vote before ground is broken on the commercial development.
"The process of delivering these petitions will re-open the transfer process and should postpone, at least, any groundbreaking or development," said Houston.
Houston said his group had worked with the City for over ten years on developing a neighborhood park on the land with hike and bike trails to connect it to the Mission Reach. Nettie Hinton says her group was betrayed.
"What we hope to accomplish is that with the 2,800 signatures on the petition, that this city governance will finally decide that in the eyes of the citizens and the voters, they are going to do the right thing for the right reason," Hinton said.
City Clerk Leticia Vasek accepted the petition and her staff was counting signatures at the close of business Monday, but Vasek said that whether the group has enough signatures is not relevant.
"Our city attorney has informed me that the area is not designated as a park area. Therefore, the petition would be invalid," said Vasek.
But Hinton presented a copy of Texas law that states land claimed as a park may not be sold unless voters approve the sale.
"We've got the paperwork that indicates they were all for a park," said Hinton. "It's a part of the City's master plan. It's a part of the Dignowity Hill Neighborhood Association's community and master plan. It's everything that the city has been doing in that part of San Antonio for the last five to seven years."
The Restoration Group says the fight is not over. They are asking the city attorney to read the law more carefully.
If council determines it will not place the issue before voters, Alamo Beer is scheduled to break ground before the end of the year on the brewery, shops, restaurants, and a skywalk leading to the Hays Street Bridge.