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The long list of initiatives and projects in City Council District 2 that Councilman Alan Warrick (D2) presented Saturday at his State of District 2 address showed that the growth and transformation of the city’s Eastside will not let up any time soon.
Over the past few years, investment in the area in the form of development, educational programs, and rehabilitation efforts, among many other initiatives, has brought change and more opportunity to the city’s largest district.
“There are a number of projects that we’ve done here in this past year and a half since December 2014 … but there were also a lot of projects that started before I took office,” Warrick told the group of about 100 people gathered at The DoSeum, applauding the efforts of Mayor Ivy Taylor who previously represented District 2.
The Eastside has become a hotspot for development, including new housing, mixed-use structures, and businesses that have drawn more people from all over the city to the burgeoning neighborhood. The area is home to 25 new businesses that were established within the past eight months, Warrick said, such as Smoke, Tony G’s Soul Food, and Burleson Yard Beer Garden.
“(New businesses can) turn the community around, bring investment in, and bring people into the Eastside,” he said.
More housing – both affordable and mixed-income – also has been implemented. Officials recently broke ground on the Crockett Lofts at Sunset Station, a multi-family housing development in the St. Paul Square area. Half of the units will be set at affordable rates for those who earn less than $40,000 a year.
Other housing efforts include projects in the Wheatley Courts Choice Neighborhood, which is part of a federal grant program that is meant to reinvigorate neighborhoods. East Meadows, a 215-unit housing community constructed to replace the Wheatley Courts, will open this month. The entire effort was a $42 million endeavor.
Several Eastside parks also will be getting reinvigorated, Warrick said. Lincoln Park will undergo $1 million worth of rehabilitation and Warrick announced that another $1 million has been committed to the park. At a press conference on Wednesday he will reveal the identity of the donor, he said. In addition, another $3.1 million is going into Lockwood and Dignowity parks to develop plazas and facilities to accommodate the farmer’s market, and $3.1 million will go toward MLK Park, which will help add amenities to draw more visitors.
With the City’s 2017 municipal bond, the Eastside will see even more investment. Bond funds totaling $89 million will go toward basic infrastructure needs as well as other projects.
Community engagement and efforts to combat crime on the Eastside have been bolstered, too, Warrick said. Midnight Basketball and the Summer 3 on 3 Throwdown tournament, hosted by The Dignowity Hill Neighborhood Association (DHNA), are two efforts that have been instrumental in keeping youth off the streets, reducing crime, and building community.
The tournaments will now take place at three more sites, Warrick said: at the MLK Boys & Girl’s Club, Copernicus Park, and the Walzem YMCA. The basketball initiatives, which have touched the lives of more than 600 people, have helped build stronger relationships between the community and police officers, who served as referees or coaches during the tournaments.
Increasing the number of San Antonio Police Department foot patrols on Eastside streets has had a similar effect, Warrick said, since officers can get to know neighborhood residents on a more personal level. District 2 also was the first district to have every officer equipped with body cameras, he added.
The Eastside community will soon have more educational resources as well, with the addition of the Alamo College’s Eastside Education & Training Center. The facility, which models the Westside center and will be located in the former Pfeiffer Elementary School, will bring workforce training and opportunities to earn your GED, college credits, or learn technical skills, among other things.
Warrick said it will help address the 15% unemployment rate in the area.
“We’re going to make it a one-stop shop,” he said, since the facility will provide childcare along with resources to find a job and receive training. “It’s one of those resources that we need in our community to move things forward.”
Warrick couldn’t touch on all of the new initiatives occurring in his district since there are so many, he said. But he did share one thing he was especially proud of – the high level of neighborhood resident involvement in each one.
“District 2 is the most active that it’s been as far as neighborhood associations” and civic engagement, he said.