In the spirit of an “old-fashioned community discussion,” I hope you don’t mind that I am sharing some personal thoughts with you on the May 10 Alamo Heights election (early voting is underway and runs through May 6). I welcome differing opinions and only ask that we keep the discussion thoughtful and respectful; we all have the same goal, protecting a community about which we care deeply.
I participated in the recent community discussion regarding the proposed luxury apartment project on Broadway. Regardless of which side of the debate any one was on, the outcome is what it is; I accept that.
But, for me, the great, unexpected surprise in that debate was to learn of the remarkably different opinions concerning the current state of the Broadway corridor, that section of Broadway from Lincoln Heights to the University of the Incarnate Word.
One group seemed to see the corridor as pleasing, comfortable and appropriately representative of our unique city. The other group described a streetscape in dire need of improvement and a deteriorating tenant base that has left our community with a dearth of useful and entertaining services.
I fall in the second category.
In the course of that public debate on the apartment project, my wife Annie and I twice walked Broadway from the College Boulevard to Central Market. What we saw at a leisurely walking pace was much different than what we sense in daily driving the same path at 30 miles per hour. In general, what we saw was a “D-” commercial district in the heart of an “A+” residential community: underwhelming public improvements (sidewalks, medians, lighting…) and neglected or underutilized private properties. It left us with a sad sense that we are squandering a valuable resource in the very heart of our city.
I think that our city leadership has done a reasonable job of providing a responsible budget and seeing that our basic services are in order. With that important foundation, I would like to see city leaders now set a loftier goal: the revitalization of the Broadway corridor.
Not only would citizens benefit from a broader offering of services and entertainment, but our City would enjoy a burgeoning tax base that could relieve some of the tax burden from residential property owners.
I am only one voice, so the question is whether the majority of citizens feel similarly. The May 10 election gives us a great opportunity to test that question. We have two candidates who feel as I do about our Broadway corridor. They are willing to carry the message to Council that it is time to get serious about the Broadway corridor. They are:
John Savage, an incumbent councilman who I have known for 15 years. John is a U.S. Army veteran who holds an MBA with a concentration in Finance and has been in the insurance business since 1979. He has been instrumental in helping create the fiscally responsible environment our city currently enjoys.
Lynda Billa Burke, a neighbor of mine who I have known for perhaps 25 years. Lynda has held important positions on a long list of public organizations including the San Antonio City Council, the Edwards Underground Water District and the San Antonio Planning Commission. She brings a wealth of experience and relationships that would serve our community well.
Fred Prassel, a life-long resident of Alamo Heights and incumbent councilman, is an Army Veteran who received a Masters in English from the University of Texas. He has been a general contractor for 33 years and has taught German for 16 years. He has held offices in many local civic organizations, including serving as past President of the Alamo Heights Rotary Club.
There is no question but that every vote is vitally important in an Alamo Heights election; our leadership is sometime decided by as little as a few hundred citizens who take time to vote. So, regardless of how you vote, please take time to do so. And, if you feel as Annie and I do about the Broadway corridor, please cast a vote for John Savage, Lynda Billa Burke and Fred Prassel.
Thanks for your time,
Tim and Annie Swan
*Featured/top image: Lion’s Field Adult and Senior Center is an early voting location for Alamo Heights residents. Lion’s Field Park is dotted with campaign signs for local candidates. Photo by Iris Dimmick.