Thursday, July 07, 2022

City's Award Winning Neighborhood Blitz Reduced to "Siding Program"


San Angelo's City Council learned the annual Neighborhood Blitz ended two years ago.  Neighborhood and Family Services Director Bob Salas called it "a siding program" that ended when siding got too expensive.

It was once an award winning program that caused Mr. Salas much pride.  A 2013 city press release stated:

“It’s fabulous to be recognized by our peers – from towns as small as Dalhart to cities as
big as Dallas,” said Bob Salas, Neighborhood and Family Services director and the point
person for the blitzes.  “But the true reward comes in seeing how beautifully my colleagues have transformed neighborhoods that desperately needed some attention.  Only one word can do their work – and this award – justice: Wow!” 

Salas did not do justice to the program by limiting it to siding.  That press release also stated:

In recognizing San Angelo’s annual Neighborhood Paint and Clean-Up Blitz, the TML noted the effort “began with a simple challenge: to paint as many houses and pick up as much trash as it could in one day. The impact of that challenge has resulted in the complete transformation of neighborhoods from blight and stagnancy to progress and vibrancy.”

The TML applauded the City’s partnership with volunteers from West Texas Organizing Strategies, a grassroots organization; Angelo State University; Goodfellow Air Force Base and various nonprofit agencies such as Habitat for Humanity to grow the event to two days and to tackle a range of projects. Those have spanned from the renovation of Little League fields and improvements to historic Fort Concho to the repainting of two recreation centers and the freshening of the Concho River trail. The annual clean-up has eliminated potential code violations, which has saved an estimated $75,000 in staff time, the TML noted. More importantly, it has “rekindled neighborhood pride and spirit among residents.” The neighborhoods touched include Blackshear, Fort Concho, Lincoln, Reagan and Rio Vista.

City Manager Daniel Valenzuela seemed committed to the program in 2013:

“This is a proud day for the City of San Angelo,” City Manager Daniel Valenzuela said.  “And it’s a direct result of the pride our City employees have in the public service they deliver every day and in the pride they have in being San Angeloans. The exciting thing is, this is only the beginning. Our staff and the City Council, which has provided both great leadership and steadfast support for these award-winning efforts, are brimming with ideas and with the motivation to continually improve our community.”
City Council asked about assistance for elderly persons with issues complying with city codes.  Council approved CDBG and HOME grant funds paying for one full time code compliance officer to work problem areas of town.

The annual Neighborhood Blitz clean-up has eliminated potential code violations, which has saved an estimated $75,000 in staff time.

The Blitz was clearly much more than a siding program.  It's strange to hear city staff with direct responsibility for an effort describe it in a factually inaccurate manner.  It's becoming a pattern.

Update 7-8-22:  KLST ran a piece yesterday evening with Salas again referring to the Blitz again as "a siding program."  Their website does not include that video.  Oddly the documents include money for the Neighborhood Blitz which was cancelled two years ago.

Update 8-2-22:  Mayor Brenda Gunter shared her wish for the Neighborhood Blitz program to be rejuvenated in today's City Council meeting.  She said it should be reinstated as it was more than a siding program.  . 

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