Contacts
 



Keyword Site Search







Officer John R. Wheeler Memorial Park, San Antonio
By Michael Miyamoto, LASN
Landscape Architect by Bender Wells Clark Design, San Antonio


image

John Wheeler Memorial Park in San Antonio, named and dedicated to a fallen police officer and Air Force veteran, was a community park with limited facilities. New improvements to the park were designed and built in 2010, with the officer's family providing many suggestions for the project. Bender Wells Clark Design of San Antonio, Texas, was the lead landscape architecture and planning firm; Lawrence Clark was the lead landscape architect.
Photos: CBA Landscape Architects


It used to be that John R. Wheeler Memorial Park in San Antonio, Texas, named after a fallen San Antonio police officer, was a community park that was underused and limited in scope. Not anymore.

Bender Wells Clark Design of San Antonio was the lead landscape architecture firm that redesigned the park, with Lawrence Clark, ASLA, as the lead landscape architect.

Remodeling of the park was completed in 2010, with input offered by John Wheeler's family on how the site should be redesigned. As a result, the memorial park has a strong police theme, starting with the symbolic insignia of the San Antonio Police Department shield that stands tall above the playscape; the blue and yellow color scheme reflects the official colors of the police department.

image

Ducks and other waterfowl from the nearby pond can be found frequently socializing on the playground. Perhaps they enjoy the cushy feel of the safety surfacing (Tot Turf); more certainly, they know where there are people, there's food.
Photos: Bender Wells Clark Design


"The covered playscape is a visual demonstration of Officer Wheeler's memory and his dedicated service to San Antonio," explained Lawrence Clark, ASLA.

Within the shaded area is a miniature patrol car on springs, bronze dedication plaques on benches all around the site to memorialize Officer Wheeler, and the names of other fallen officers who served with Wheeler text-stamped into pavement circling the safety surface.

image

To connect the new play area to the stormwater basin (the pond), a new paved path was designed and a small steel hexagonal picnic pavilion (Coverworx) added the water's edge.


"Integrating these honorable names into the play area itself allows these men and women to become part of the identity of the park and accessible even at a child's level," Clark said. "In this way, they become a part of growing up in this community."

The play area also features interactive bells, a tunnel with raised animal-themed graphics, and other amenities for children. The park even has its own fishing pond and pier.

image

image

The playground's law enforcement theme is seen by the shield insignia of the San Antonio Police Department atop the play equipment, its blue and gold colors reiterated in the play structures (Playworld Systems) and by the 'squad car' spring rider (GameTime). Bronze dedication plaques on benches memorialize Officer Wheeler; names of fallen officers who served with Wheeler are text-stamped into the pavement circling the safety surface. The shade structure is by USA Shade.


Wheeler Park is nestled on a small lot between single-family homes, and is bound by a major street on one side and the large stormwater retention pond. Space for park amenities was restricted to only about half-an-acre of land because of these boundary constraints. The design team cleverly incorporated the retention basin into the tiny park, which expanded the park's boundaries and enhanced the attractiveness of both the park and the retention pond.

To connect the new play area to the stormwater basin and an existing walking trail, a new paved path was designed for Wheeler Park. A small picnic pavilion with a view of the pond was added to the site, and new solar lighting provides security for patrons using the play area and walking trail after dark. A covered fiberglass composite observation and fishing pier, the first of its kind in San Antonio, was designed and craned into place, so visitors are able "to experience the special serenity water and nature can bring," Clark said.

Permanent pools of water are scarce in San Antonio, and accessibility to these novel features is even more so. Wheeler Park stands out because of this fully accessible pier, which projects 50 feet across the surface of the pond. From the pier, visitors can relax and perhaps try their hand at fishing.

image

image

A covered fiberglass composite observation deck and fishing pier (E.T. Techtonics), the first of its kind in San Antonio, was designed and craned into place. The pond acts as a stormwater retention basin, and is stocked with fish and riparian species.


Erosion problems at the drainage inlet to the pond required control measures. The design team used river rock to line the drainage channel and planted riparian species along the water's edge.

"This dramatically improved the aesthetics of the pond, and visually draws pedestrians for a stroll along the walking trail," Clark said. "Submerged wetland species provide protected breeding grounds for fish. In select areas, thick buffers of taller plants adjacent to the aquatic species at the waterline provide habitat for waterfowl.

Birds and fish now flourish in and around the retention pond. "Occasionally, a brave duck even ventures a short distance from the pond to experience the playscape for himself," Clark said.

image

New solar lighting (SOL, Inc.) provides security for patrons using the play area and walking the trail after dark.


Tall cattails, mesquite trees and the pier itself screen the adjacent homes around the pond. Even the smallest breezes across this small body of water are always welcome in the Texas heat.

Design Team
Lead designer and landscape architect: Bender Wells Clark Design, San Antonio
Structural engineer: Jaster-Quintanilla (now Intelligent Engineering Services), San Antonio



As seen in LASN magazine, April 2016.






Comment Box is loading comments...

Related Stories




November 22, 2019, 1:13 pm PDT

Website problems, report a bug.
Copyright © 2019 Landscape Communications Inc.
Privacy Policy