Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Transforming Travis Park

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Transforming Travis Park

Article excerpt

Revitalization efforts at a small Texas park inspired a local businessman to spearhead programming designed to build stronger community ties

Walk through any big city in the U.S. and you will undoubtedly come across a park in need of some tender loving care. Often, as a city grows, priorities and investments shift. Green space and urban parks can suffer as a result. What were once beautiful gathering spots for the community become places to avoid.

Travis Park in San Antonio, Texas, was one such place in need of renewed focus to make it great again.

What makes Travis Park special is not its size or features, but its history. This fact was not lost on Pat DiGiovanni, CEO of Centro San Antonio, a company dedicated to fostering a vibrant, thriving urban core in Texas' second-largest city.

Travis Park, located in the heart of downtown San Antonio, was once part of the Alamo mission, the site of the famous Battle of the Alamo that served as a catalyst for Texas' fight for independence from Mexico. Now separated from the mission by streets and buildings, the park had lost its once-charming appeal from simple neglect.

The city recognized an opportunity to revitalize the park and received investments from the private sector, led by Southwest Airlines and the San Antonio Parks Foundation.

After a $500,000 renovation that included replacing sidewalks and furniture, as well as adding a new community bikeshare point, the park was ready for a new future. DiGiovanni saw an opportunity to provide new life for the park. How do you reverse decades of opinions? "One day at a time," DiGiovanni says.

After the facelift, "We wanted to show the community that Travis Park was once again a place for families," DiGiovanni says. To get families to the park, DiGiovanni and his team hosted a series of themed events at Travis, starting with the Fall Festival, a free event with a pumpkin patch, scarecrow contest and face painting.

The occasion was a huge success and sparked thoughts of "what next?" DiGiovanni drew upon his previous experiences in cities such as Kalamazoo, Michigan, and Surfside Beach, South Carolina. With the holidays approaching, DiGiovanni provided 250,000 reasons to come to Travis Park to celebrate. Installing 250,000 holiday lights transformed the space into a vibrant explosion of cheer and brought scores of people to the newly renovated park. …

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