Neighborhood with troubled past to be annexed

Converse looking at the Glen, two other neighborhoods

CONVERSE, Texas – For years, the Glen in northeast Bexar County was known for its troubled past.

Longtime residents who chose to stay in the area said gangs, drug activity and vacant house fires were the norm.

“It would calm down for a while. Then it got bad with drugs for a while. Then it would calm down for a while. Then things started getting trashy,” said Willard Powell, an Army veteran who has lived in the Glen since 1974.

Yet now the city of Converse is looking at annexing the Glen and two other neighborhoods in that area, a process that Mayor Al Suarez said could take six to eight years.

“It’s pretty good we’re going to have them,” said Mayela Torres, a single mother who’s owned her home for the past four years. “But our taxes are going up.”

Ricky Tucker, who has had his house since 1993, said he wonders, “If you want to increase your tax revenue, how are you going to increase our quality of life and services you’re going to provide us?”

The Converse mayor said in advance of the annexation, the city is building a new fire station and expanding its police department, while still providing EMS and fire protection in those areas, as it has for the past 10 years. Suarez said eventually the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office won’t have to patrol those neighborhoods.

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He also said Converse will be able to handle garbage and bulk collection for a monthly fee.

Tucker said as it is now, he’s having to pay a private company and even then, drop-off sites for bulk items are not conveniently located.

“We may have a better neighborhood. It’ll be more clean and be more suitable for the children,” Torres said.

The mayor said it’s yet to be determined how much of a tax increase will result, but he pointed out the current tax rate in Converse of 50 cents per $100 valuation is nearly 6 cents lower than San Antonio’s rate.

He also said what may help is that the city of San Antonio will be changing its boundaries so that Converse can benefit from commercial corridors along Gibbs-Sprawl Rd. as well as Loop 1604 near I-10 East.

Suarez said a lucrative tax base could mean lower property tax increases.

The mayor said right now commercial development in Converse is limited because of the flight paths used by Randolph Air Force Base.

As for those higher property taxes, Powell said “a few dollars more a year” wouldn’t be a hardship for him.

“You’ve got to pay them anyway,” he said.

Powell said it would be worthwhile if it means improving a neighborhood that has seen its share of problems.