The master plan detailing the future of the Kelly/South San area is finished and now residents and community leaders hope the plan will be implemented and followed.
The City Council accepted at the Feb. 15 meeting the Kelly/South San P.U.E.B.L.O. Community Plan — a master plan for areas in District 4 and 5 including Port San Antonio, formerly KellyUSA.
The P.U.E.B.L.O. (People United and Empowered to Build Local Opportunities) Action Team, or the planning team, consisted of representatives from the Quintana Community Neighborhood Association, Southwest Workers' Union, Port San Antonio, the Committee for Environmental Justice, and various leaders and stakeholders in the community.
The planning team worked with the city for nearly two years.
"It's an affirmation," said District 5 Councilwoman Patti Radle. "You have some people there, especially from the Quintana area and the Southwest Workers' Union who are adamant about their community issues. The issue of green space is a big one in that area."
The master plan outlines 13 goals from the area which include the environment; economic development; upgrades in streets, drainage and railroad infrastructure; literacy; cultural growth; the need for additional green space; and enhancements in housing.
Dolores Mendez, the founder of the Quintana Community Neighborhood Association and now the association secretary, owns a café in the area. She spoke at the Feb. 15 meeting about the work and the impact of the plan.
"(Councilwoman) Radle and (District 4 Councilman Richard) Perez have been able to improve conditions neglected for over 30 years," Mendez said.
"We want to improve conditions such as crime, drugs, gangs (and) graffiti. Help with street improvements, especially around the schools. There are issues of contamination and railroad derailments."
Perez acknowledged the hard work that went into the planning and said he appreciated the vision that went into the plan.
Green space on the Port San Antonio property was mentioned several times. The authority said it would convert some extra land into a park-like atmosphere with benches and a walking trail that would be open to the public.
Leticia Rodriguez, director of community affairs for Port San Antonio, said the authority felt it was important to participate in the plan from the beginning.
"We shared information about our development and then we spoke about some of the ways we can help," Rodriguez said.
"For example, Ms. Mendez mentioned the green space and we talked to them about offering them green space.
"They have concerns and all neighborhoods around us have concerns about what was left from the Air Force days," said Rodriguez, referring to closed Kelly AFB. "Like I said, they talked about the traffic and noise and that's part of the plan."
Robert Alvarado has lived in the area for 37 years and said the environment is one of his biggest concerns.
Alvarado works with the Committee for Environmental Justice Action and the Southwest Workers' Union. He said in the two-year planning process, it was often hard for residents to stay dedicated.
"It's a hard struggle trying to get people to meetings, and we started very strong and it got weak and then strong again," Alvarado said.
He added the dedication does not end now that the plan has been accepted by the city. He and Radle both said the need is great for the community members to utilize the plan and fight for its implementation to meet community goals.
"It makes me feel great that we all put our inputs in," Alvarado said.
"But now I hope it's not forgotten and put back on the shelf and never to be brought out for next five years.
"I feel we have to take it off the shelf and open the book and do things. Not just the planning; the planning is done, and now we have to move in and finish what we started."