Amenities & Public Spaces
The map below highlights the Amenities & Infrastructure Framework recommendations identified for the Texas A&M San Antonio Area Regional Center Area. Scroll down learn more about the vision for Amenities & Infrastructure in the Plan Area.
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In the future, as more people live, work, and play in Texas A&M San Antonio Area Regional Center, quality of life should improve with better public spaces, better infrastructure, and more opportunities for people to make connections.
The rural character of the Texas A&M – San Antonio Area Regional Center provides a unique opportunity unlike other Regional Centers. Both the Texas A&M University – San Antonio campus and its student population are expanding rapidly, creating a large economic development engine for the Regional Center. Balancing this growth with preservation of the area’s abundant natural resources is key to establishing and maintaining the unique character of the Regional Center. Amenities and public space improvements such as streetscapes, enhanced lighting, priority connections, trails, and green complete streets provide opportunities for residents and visitors to safely travel throughout the Regional Center and increase access for pedestrians and bicyclists. Collectively, amenities and public space improvements are the missing link that will make the Regional Center a unique place and destination.
Public Spaces are areas that are open and accessible to the public. These types of spaces encourage community interaction and are inclusive of all visitors. Well-designed and maintained public spaces allow for safe recreation and a community sense of belonging. These spaces could include Parks or Plazas, Trails and Trailheads, Social Gathering and Community Event Spaces such as community centers, educational facilities, public art, community gardens and active streets and public spaces.
Public Spaces go hand-in-hand with Amenities, as they offer unique attributes that make the area attractive for visitors and residents. Amenities are public features that enhance the comfort, enjoyment, and convenience of a public space. Amenities can also have a non-physical presence, such as high-speed internet access, or dark skies initiatives.
As the southside of San Antonio continues to grow, it is necessary to consider not only appropriate future land use types and the design of vibrant, welcoming public spaces, but also to focus on the impact development has on our city’s natural resources and our ability to proactively minimize the impact of natural occurrences such as flooding.
The San Antonio River Authority (SARA) conducted an evaluation of the Texas A&M-San Antonio Area Regional Center to better understand the impact of development on flooding and water quality in the area. The goals of the project were to help inform land use and policy decisions in the development of a holistic approach that not only mitigates the negative impacts to water quality but also improves community and environmental health.
Three scenarios were evaluated including existing land use, future land use with the impacts of climate change, and future land use with the impacts of climate change coupled with Best Management Practices (BMPs) mitigation strategies. The project summarized the incremental benefit of installing BMPs on site, as well as reducing impervious cover such as parking lots and roadways. The study also provided a triple bottom line analysis that emphasized the financial, social, and environmental benefits of installing BMPs and Low Impact Development (LID). The triple bottom line analysis highlighted enhanced property values, educational opportunities, reduction in the Urban Heat Island Effect, recreation and public health, environmental benefits include carbon sequestration, and improved water quality and air pollution sequestration. These benefits have lasting impacts that improve community health and make the area more attractive for development.
Recommendation #1Create trail connections throughout the Regional Center along flood plain areas, provide an expansion to the Medina River Greenway, and provide connections to the University and the Palo Alto College outside the plan boundary.
Recommendation #2Encourage new development projects to coordinate with the San Antonio River Authority (SARA) to ensure development projects are considerate of the recommendations outlined in the SARA watershed analysis and promote green infrastructure.
Recommendation #3Create character defining features that have minimal physical impact to the natural areas and celebrate the area's natural features.
The Regional Center's natural features and rural character have beeb a focal point during the planning process. these unique attributes should be emphasized as development occurs in the area. Investments in gateway signage and art installations require minimal construction and can enhance the area by adding distinctive features that magnify the area's unique rural character.
Parks, Trails and Open Space
The Texas A&M - San Antonio Area Regional Center has a limited amount of publicly accessible green space within its boundary. There are floodplain areas, the Medina River Greenway, and Canvasback Lake that provide ample opportunities to expand the outside recreational portfolio.
The Regional Center includes many major corridors that must accommodate motor vehicles, pedestrian, bicycle, and public transit usage. In order to make pedestrian and bicyclist activity safer, it is crucial to enhance the streetscape by widening sidewalks, adding more defined crosswalks, increasing/adding street lighting, and incorporating more landscaping and street trees. The community wants to be able to safely access nearby uses, including greenways and residences, and these features are crucial to creating this type of environment. Incorporating multi-benefit LID features within the public rights of ways within these areas is consistent with the City’s complete streets policy and numerous priorities identified during the Comprehensive Plan planning process. An example includes creating bioretention cell bump-outs at intersections that simultaneously treat stormwater runoff, serve as traffic-calming devices, and can provide shade for pedestrians and cyclists stopped at the intersections.
Character Defining Features
The Texas A&M - San Antonio Area Regional Center has few existing character defining features to date. The natural and rural state of the area is the most visible character feature that makes this Regional Center unique from the other Regional Centers and from the rest of the City. The San Antonio River Authority’s Watershed Analysis for the Regional Center creates a unique opportunity by establishing a framework and research-supported recommendations to encourage development to follow Low Impact Development guidelines and Green Infrastructure Best Management Practices. Future development in the area should have unique design elements and natural resource protections that continue to enhance the area’s natural features and minimize negative impacts from unmitigated scenarios.