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NEWS | Dec. 21, 2006

New park honors Randolph heritage

By Bob Hieronymus 12th Flying Training Wing

Ground was broken Dec. 8 in the old east Wherry housing area for what will become a new Randolph Air Force Base park.

Col. Richard Clark, 12th Flying Training Wing commander, lifted the first symbolic shovel of dirt in a ceremony marking the beginning of one of the first features people will soon see driving through the main gate and down Harmon Drive. Construction began Dec. 8 preparing the ground for the park that will focus on the base's proud heritage.

A park naming contest is planned for early next year and a bronze marker will be set in formal ceremonies at the November 2007 Air Show.

The nine-acre park will include a pavilion, public restrooms, and a half-mile walking path complete with benches. Initially, there will be parking for 90 cars. Provision is also made for a future 400-person, open-air amphitheater, along with additional parking to accommodate the anticipated crowds.

Although not yet funded, one of the major plans for the park is to feature a collection of aircraft models representing various aircraft that have been stationed here since the opening of the base in 1930.

The site's aircraft and statuary will be made of composite materials or bronze minimizing maintenance costs. The concept is for various past, present and future Randolph AFB organizations to provide the models to honor specific parts of our heritage, Col. Clark said.

John Howry, the base landscape architect, laid out detailed plans for plants native to south Texas and decorative rockwork to blend with the many trees now gracing the area.

The $1.4 million currently budgeted pays for site preparation, roadways and parking, lighting, irrigation, landscaping and buildings. The first phase of the project is expected to be completed in April.

"The real source for the park's concept came from Col. Clark," said Richard Trevino, base civil engineer. "He emphasized the need to recognize the fantastic heritage represented by this base. It was originally known as the West Point of the Air and has become the showplace of the Air Force. This park will be a focal point for displays and events that connect the past with us and point us toward the future."