Faith & Courage
Built the Southside and Texas Together!
by
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
April 28, 2005

Anyone remember being told by your parents that some rough experience you had would build character? Well, that's the story of the Southside. Since the Battles of Rosillo Creek and Medina in 1813 to secure Texas' independence from Spain to the Battle of Concepcion, the Grass Fight and the Battle of San Antonio in 1835 and the Battle of the Alamo in 1836, we have been fighting for one form of freedom or another: freedom from Spain or Mexico and now, freedom from economic limitation.

Most persuasive proof of the Southside's strength in the early part of the 20th Century was the locating of the four Air Force Bases: Medina, Lackland, Kelly and Brooks. Neighborhoods such as Highland Park were touted as the "places to be". The Interstate Highway Act passed during the Eisenhower Administration in the 1950's however, meant that the vitality of urban corridors of Clark Avenue, Goliad, Gevers, South New Braunfels, Hackberry, Presa, Roosevelt, Flores, Pleasanton Road, Nogalitos, Zarzamora, Somerset Road, New Laredo Highway, Quintana Road, Acme Road and Old Pearsall Road would be challenged as never before as people often chose the expressway over these historic north-south urban corridors.

In the latter half of the 20th Century, the fights on the Southside became ones for dignity and respect for an aging community that never forgot its proud role in building Bexar County and dare I say Texas! More recent fights on the Southside were over its endurance of outdated or malfunctioning sewage treatment plants, unbridled junk yards, Mitchell Lake and a number of large landfills and more recently the ongoing challenge of the City's code compliance efforts, among others.

Add to this the election of both City Council members and all members of the ten-member delegation from Bexar County to the Texas House of Representatives on an "at-large" basis. This meant that all members of these two very powerful groups had to run county-wide, making the expense of obtaining a seat on either, very costly. As a result, our community was severely under represented for a long time. The ill-effects of this at-large method of elections created developmental problems that are seen even to this day!

Rarely did we see the "good" projects in the latter half of the 20th Century. But, having tamed the harsher effects of at least some of these economic development barriers, the Southside is now ready to consider growth. Our challenge today is to grow with grace, not haste. Southside growth should be with thoughtfulness and vision!

Today we have Palo Alto College, a junior college bursting at the seams that was at first thought to be a dead ringer for a failure. Toyota Manufacturing will undoubtedly change much with its 2,000 plus workforce and its 18 suppliers that will likely more than double Toyota's employment. Texas A & M holds great hope for the burgeoning demand for higher education at its best. And yes, neighborhood associations weigh in on issues of development so citizens' voices can be heard as never before!

Critical to the finesse with which our Southside can experience the blessings of its newfound growth is the present "Decade of Transportation" we are now seeing unfold. The monies flowing from the Advanced Transportation District hold great potential for the investment in our exchanges connecting the Coastal Corridor (I-37), the Valley Corridor (281 South) and the Border Corridor (I-35 South) with the major thoroughfares crossing these significant highways. We should never allow the "Muleshoe, Texas" effect of everyone coming to a stoplight at a major intersection like the one at 410 North and 281 North as though we were all living in a small town!

Of further importance is the proper development by VIA of express service taking riders on nonstop trips to major destinations such as downtown or the Medical Center from the point of departure on the Southside. Transit Centers will allow air conditioned indoor waits, with security and personnel to assist riders as never before. Ever-rising gas prices will accelerate use of mass transit!

All the signs of growth are in place. A proud people await great things that have finally come our way. All of us need to take part in the progress by staying informed and engaged through organizations such as neighborhood associations, the South San Antonio Chamber and other chambers, churches and other organizations that can impact our area and its development and the larger community for the good for many years to come.

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