Quality of Life

With the opening of our country’s first all-digital public library, BiblioTech, the Mission Park Pavilions, the Mission Reach of the San Antonio River and almost 13 youth sports complexes including the new Wheatley Heights Sports Complex. I am proud to have led these efforts which improve our community and strengthen our economy, all while holding the property tax at the same rate.

County Wide

County Facilities & Parks

BiblioTech

Bexar County opened the nation’s first all-digital public library in September 2013. Inspired by Judge Wolff’s passion for books and pursuit of innovation, BiblioTech represents a leap into the future at a cost lower than constructing a traditional library. Located on the South Side of San Antonio, in the Harlandale Independent School District, BiblioTech bridges the digital divide in an area where the majority of households do not have internet access. BiblioTech is extending its reach online and in person with satellite campuses in the Bexar County Courthouse and the Warrior and Family Support Center at SAMMC. Any Bexar county resident can register free of charge at www.bexarbibliotech.org and immediately begin using the collection, or visit a campus to check out an e-reader.

Mission County Park Redevelopment

The 16 acres of Mission County Park have roots that begin in 2080 B.C. with a native American building that is the third oldest in the state of Texas. During the Spanish Colonial period of Bexar County’s history, it was part of the farmlands for nearby Mission San Jose, and the land has continued to impart cultural significance to the surrounding community. Initially established as a county park in 1949, and renovated in 1980, Mission County Park is one of the four most used in the county inventory. This $5.2 million project will upgrade all park restroom facilities and playscapes, relocate the Parks Maintenance shops and parking areas, and bury overhead utility lines. Texas Parks and Wildlife is contributing $1.75 million to the project through reimbursement grants.

Hot Wells

Commissioners Court in August directed County staff to begin negotiating the donation of land at the site of the historic Hot Wells on South Presa to create the Hot Wells Interpretive Center, which could become the county’s newest park since 1998. The project would redevelop the ruins at the site of the Hot Wells Hotel and Bath House to repurpose them as a public park and historic site on the banks of the Mission Reach of the San Antonio River. The Interpretive Center would include storyboards that tell the history of the site, its celebrity visitors, the headquarters of the Star Film Ranch, the role of San Antonio as a health destination between the Civil War and World War II, and education about the healing waters.

Community Venues

Four years after voters overwhelmingly approved four propositions to extend theCounty’s Visitor Tax, seven of the 13 amateur sports facilities have been completed, and the remaining six are under construction with the most recent one opening at the end of last year. The Visitor Tax, is combination of a 5 percent tax on short-term motor vehicle rentals and  1.75 percent hotel occupancy tax. This Tax is also funding improvements to the San Antonio River, the conversion of the Municipal Auditorium into the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, and improvements to the Community Arenas and rodeo grounds. Construction has started on the Tobin Center and the Alameda Theater while the Briscoe Western Art Museum pavilion has opened. The third and final phase of the Mission Reach Ecosystem 8 Restoration and Recreation Project is under construction and opened in 2013.

Tobin Center for the Performing Arts

With $108 million from Bexar County and an additional $54 million in private contributions, the Municipal Auditorium is on its way to becoming the world class Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. The center will become the home for the San Antonio Symphony and other performing arts groups. The steel structure is going up, and a topping out ceremony is scheduled for December. The first big event in the new center will be in the fall of 2014.

Briscoe Western Art Museum

The Jack Guenther Pavilion at the Briscoe Western Art Museum is the city’s newest premier venue space in Downtown. The three-story pavilion provides more than 5,000 square feet for private events, meetings, conferences and receptions. Overlooking the San Antonio River Walk, the pavilion also offers space for outdoor events in the sculpture garden. Bexar County contributed $4 million for the design and construction of the pavilion. For more information visit www.briscoemuseum.com.

Mission Reach Ecosystem Restoration and Recreation Project

The eight-mile Mission Reach of the San Antonio River is a $245.7 million ongoing community investment to return the river to its meandering natural state. Often called the most important public improvement project to happen on the South Side of San Antonio in decades, the Mission Reach project will restore 113 acres of aquatic habitat with riffles, runs and pool sequences, and 13 acres of embayments. More than 330 acres of riparian woodland habitat will be restored, and more than 20,000 young trees, and shrubs will be planted. There will be 39 species of native trees and shrubs, and more than 60 species of native grass and wildflowers.

Bexar County is committed to contributing more than $200 million, including $125 million in venue tax funds, to this project to cover any shortfalls in federal contributions. With the San Antonio River Authority providing local oversight and management of the project, the Mission Reach was completed on time in 2013.

Bexar County Games and Sports Complexes 

In partnership with local corporate sponsors and San Antonio Sports, Bexar County sports facilities host an annual series of events that harness the power of sport to foster good health, community, and teamwork. Thirteen sports complexes located throughout the community, funded by the 2008 voter ratified visitor tax, are open to local, regional , and national sports competitions.   In just the first year, 2013, the Bexar County Games offered affordable competitions for young residents to the tune of:

  • Basketball tournament (Pct. 1) 400 participants
  • Swim meet (Pct. 3) 179 participants
  • Soccer tournament (Pct. 2) 70 teams / 664 participants
  • Track and Field (Pct. 4) 638 participants
  • TOTAL: 3,000 spectators/ families; over 1,800 participants

In  2014 the Games will expand to include a baseball competition and look to increase participation from outside Bexar County.  The sports commission hopes to expand the games to adult competitions in 2015.