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San Antonio was named one of the nation’s top can-do cities by “Newsweek” in its Sept. 19, 2011, issue for our 42 percent increase in park space. In large part, we can thank the 311-acre Phil Hardberger Park for that honor.

Max and Minnie Tomerlin Voelker ran a dairy farm on this land for years and years, until the City of San Antonio acquired the property for nearly $50 million from their trust, according to a May 22, 2011, article in the “San Antonio Express-News” written by Sarah Mills. Then-Mayor Phil Hardberger pushed for turning this prime piece of real estate into a green space for all of the area’s citizens to enjoy. Thanks to the park’s conservancy and funds from the City of San Antonio and the State of Texas, Hardberger’s dream is becoming a reality.

I visited the newly opened western portion of the park with my two dogs, and I was impressed by the number of amenities available: 2.46-miles of multi-use trails, picnic tables, basketball courts, a giant playscape for kids ages two to 12 and a 1.8-acre dog park. Plus, a public art display titled “Making Hay” by Tom Otterness is fun to wander through. We did the .8-mile Oak Loop Trail, and except for one cyclist, we had the place to ourselves. A goal of the conservancy is to protect the heritage live oak trees in the park and create a woodland habitat. Our walk from the parking lot to the loop and back was just the right length; however, I do recommend that you bring water with you. Fountains are available near the playscape, but you might get thirsty out on the trail.

The western portion of Hardberger Park is located at 8400 N.W. Military Highway, just south of the Jewish Community Center. The numbers 97 and 534 VIA buses will drop you off at the park’s entrance. Treat yourself to San Antonio’s newest park! I look forward to checking out the eastern portion at 13203 Blanco Road in the near future. The park is open seven days a week, from sunrise to sunset.