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The photographs of San Antonio and Dignowity Hill used within this blog are the property of Juan A Garcia East Light Images. All rights are reserved to the owner. Copy and use of these pictures is forbidden without written permission. Contact Juan at for permission.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

All Lit Up

The Hays Street Bridge is now lit up. The city finally figured out who is going to pay for the light bill....thank goodness!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hays Street Bridge In the Dark

Took a walk over to the Hays Street Bridge Saturday evening expecting to see it all lit up. Not sure what's going here but the bridge is in the dark. The lights were all out. I hope the city or who ever is responsible for turning on the lights will do so soon. Or did someone forget to pay the light bill? In spite of the lack of lighting on the bridge it was still worth the walk from our house. The view of the moon rising over Dignowity Hill was awesome!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Good Stuff on the Eastside

The Hays Street Bridge opened up again after 28 years of being closed. Kudos to the Hays Street Bridge Restoration Group for their vision and tireless efforts to save the old lady.

A couple of articles appeared in the newspaper this week regarding the impressive progress the police department has made in lowering and preventing crime in District 2. Problem oriented policing seems to be making a considerable dent with the bad guys in our neighborhoods and businesses. This is truly encouraging as public safety is a key piece in sustaining revitalization.

I recently attended a meeting of business owners of the New Braunfels Street corridor. The biggest topic of discussion was the gate closure at New Braunfels and Grayson streets. The gate has been closed since 9-11 and has adversely impacted many of the businesses along this stretch of New Braunfels street. Not sure if the gate will re-open anytime soon but I was encouraged by the willingness of the business owners to work together for a common cause.

In the meantime we need to explore creative ideas to bring traffic to that corridor. At the last Ft Sam Houston Avisory Board a proposal surfaced that VIA should look at developing a trolley loop route from Walters street through New Braunfels street to bring much needed customers down to New Braunfels street. I like that idea and it could be an effective and creative way to partly address a continuing frustrating situation.

We still have a lot of work in front of us but it feels like the momentum is starting to swing around for the Eastside.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Summer Nights and Basketball

One of the the nice things of living in Dignowity Hill is having two great parks- Dignowity and Lockwood- located right in the middle of the neighborhood. The parks are adjacent to each other and overlook downtown. The view of the city in the evening from the parks is spectacular. Lockwood Park has an outdoor basket ball court and if you happen to pass by on a warm summer night chances are good that you'll find a night basketball game going on.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Business Realities

The other morning we had breakfast at Tommy's Cafe with Norma Witherspoon. Norma owns and operates Nick's Beauty Supply on the corner of New Braunfels and Burnet Streets. She wanted to talk about the New Braunfels street business corridor. The area she is concerned about runs from the Ft. Sam Houston gate to Houston street. Her and other small business owners along this stretch of New Braunfels street feel they may be missing on the economic development promised by the BRAC and the Eastside re-investment initiatives being promoted by the city. The gate closure at the New Braunfels street entrance to Ft Sam and the opening of Walters Street as the main entrance to the post were two reasons for the concern.

There is no question that the gate closure has had the greatest impact on businesses just outside the gate since there is no direct traffic coming in or out of the post. It's unlikely that the military will open the gate any time soon. One compromise would be to open the gate as an exit only but so far the military is not listening to community and neighborhood concerns. Further south from the gate on New Braunfels and past the interstate there is a healthy infrastructure of small businesses already in place. At the intersection of Houston and New Braunfels streets there are several anchor businesses that appear to be thriving, although a major upgrade is sorely needed to the HEB grocery store at that corner. As for Walters Street, its still too early to determine if the corridor will eventually develop into a viable business gateway. Walters street past the interstate is mostly residential and it will take some deep pockets to develop the area with new businesses.

Norma is a long time Eastside business owner and over the years she's heard many promises for economic development and seen little change. On the other hand, the way I see it the New Braunfels street corridor stands a good chance of further development if the small business owners are willing to organize themselves into a common voice and are willing to work together to bring the right kind of attention and resources. Timing is every thing in life and I think that the time is ripe for business growth along this stretch of the Eastside.....but the reality is that these business owners and the community cannot stand around and wait for it to happen.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Catching Up: Exciting, Not so Good, Very Good

It's time to catch with things. I've been a little busy lately with some traveling out of town over the last few weeks. But its good to be back in town for a couple of weeks without having to pack up and get on a plane!

There's an exciting initiative that will involve the Dignowity Hill community and our public schools that is getting ready to launch in the next few weeks called the Trinity Project. The idea behind the this project is an innovative concept to deliver education by working closely with the community and using community assets to strengthen and improve the quality of the educational experience. Bowden Elementary School will be the setting for piloting this project which is being championed by our good mayor, supported by SAISD and driven by Trinity University, hence the the name Trinity Project. The first community meeting is scheduled for sometime in late August so stay tuned for more details as things develop.

Not So Good
Back in May I got wind of an something not so good happening at the Union Pacific rail yard. It seems that the UP has allowed the construction of an ethanol transfer station along the Pine street side of the rail yard. This was done without any input from the community. Apparently, rail road companies are exempt from most city and state codes are allowed to lease their properties to companies that produce and pipe ethanol for use in mixing with gasoline. I'm not against the use of extending our energy resources...that's good...but the not so good part of this is that the UP rail yard is in the midst of two neighborhoods, Dignowity and Government Hill and this has raised some serious concerns among our residents regarding the safety of the operations. I invited reps from the UP and the ethanol company to our July 19th association meeting to address those concerns and answer questions and they agreed to attend.....should be very interesting.

Very Good!
The Hays Street Bridge Opening is scheduled for July 20th at 10am....finally! I can't wait to ride my bike over this old and historic bridge!