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Will new development swallow South Side VFW post?

Post 9186 in need of $50,000 worth of repairs

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SAN ANTONIO – VFW Post 9186 was built in the mid 1960s and time has not been gentle on the South Side mainstay.

"Three main air conditioning units have heaters that don't work. The roof is old and needs to be repaired in spots," said Post Commander Robert Otto. "We figure its around about $50,000 for the major repairs

The post generates revenue by hosting events such as weddings and dances. Alcohol sales also help pay for the nearly $40,000 per month in operating costs.

Since eliminating weekly Bingo nights in the mid 1990s, Post Quartermaster Carlos Mugica, the organization's treasurer, said the money has dried up.

"We have way too many bills and (only) so much rentals, and they don't balance so we're hurting in that respect," Mugica said.

The post's attorney, State Senator Carlos Uresti, has reached out to local developers in an effort to find an economically viable solution to refurbish or renovate the building.

That has led to concern that the post will become part of the new development proposed to the area and potentially torn down.

District 3 Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran hopes to be a part of those conversations.

She's attended several weddings and dances at the post and said it is the city's responsibility to strike a balance between economic progress and respecting the area's history.

"Nothing is going to be built over night, but we are definitely taking in all the comments, all the concerns, but knowing that we also have a lot of economic opportunities here that we have not seen before in a very long time in the south side," Viagran said.

The recent designation of Mission San Jose as a UNESCO World Heritage has also stoked fears that the post could be swept up in the new development proposed for the surrounding area.

Those plans have generated a backlash from some south side residents, but Viagran hopes the post can remain a pillar of the community in her district.

"It's important to have that kind of community facility there, and I hope that they can work out something and do what they need to do," Viagran said.