$500,000 donation from city of Kenedy moves Escondido Creek Parkway Project’s funding past halfway point

Gaylon Oehlke, left, is pictured with Robert Amerman, executive director of the San Antonio River Foundation, with the $500,000 check that was donated to the Escondido Creek Parkway project by the City of Kenedy.

KENEDY — The city council recently approved a $500,000 donation to Escondido Creek Parkway, pushing funding for the linear park project over the halfway point.

“The City of Kenedy, in conjunction with the parks committee and the 4B committee, is 100 percent in support of the Escondido Creek Parkway Project,” commented Mayor Randy Garza. “We are looking forward to working with all involved to bring this fun-filled project to our community.”

With a total of about $1.7 million raised thus far, the $3 million park project aims to turn the ephemeral Escondido Creek into an attractive community space which connects existing hubs of activity while offering a place to relax and recreate in nature.

Escondido Creek Parkway is planned to be a linear park with amenities that allow the community new opportunities for leisure, wellness and entertainment outdoors along Escondido Creek, an undeveloped waterway directly adjacent to downtown Kenedy.

In part, it will function as a safe thoroughfare, connecting Joe Gully Park and sports fields to downtown, homes and schools by providing trails under U.S. Highway 181.

Planned recreational amenities include a mile-long, multi-use trail, playground, pavilion and seating for picnicking and other activities.

The crown jewel will be a man-made pond through which the creek will flow.

“When people drive over the bridge on Highway 181 and see the weirs and water along with the trails and pavilion, it will be what they will remember about Kenedy,” says Gaylon Oehlke, a director on the San Antonio River Authority (SARA) board and member of the parkway’s fundraising committee. “These enhancements will promote a healthy lifestyle and enjoyment of the outdoors for generations to come.”

What additionally sets Escondido Creek Parkway apart from other regional parks is its dedication to a balanced relationship with the ecosystem. The park’s primary water feature, a small pond bound by weirs which bridge the reservoir, will be deep enough to support aquatic life and potentially offer fishing opportunities. The existing large shade trees and wildflowers as well as the proposed native vegetation offer habitats to birds and fundamental pollinators.

“The public will have a scenic place to walk and experience nature with the various wildlife that frequent this area,” said Oehlke.

“As someone who has worked on the Escondido Creek Parkway since its conception, I am delighted that we received the half-million dollar grant from the City of Kenedy.  I would like to thank the mayor and city council, along with the city manager, for all that they have done to move this project forward,” Oehlke continued.

“This contribution will get us to the halfway point of the estimated cost of the project.  With the leverage of this money, we will be able to apply for various grants.  Upon completion, this project will be the ‘Face of Kenedy.’”

Based on extensive discussions between SARA, City of Kenedy elected officials, community leaders and other stakeholders, the Escondido Creek Parkway Project is projected to cost just over $3 million.

Funding for this and transformative community project is a joint effort between private donations, grants and public monies, including a generous gift from the Kenedy Chamber of Commerce.

“While we are happy to reach this milestone, there is much more to do. We will need private donations to help reach our ultimate goal,” Oehlke concluded.

Fundraising for Escondido Creek Parkway is supported by the San Antonio River Foundation, whose mission to enhance the San Antonio River Basin as a vibrant cultural, educational, ecological and recreational experience includes Karnes County.     

For more information and images, visit EscondidoCreekParkway.org.

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