SAN ANTONIO – They say the grass is always greener on the other side.
In one West Side neighborhood, it’s the sidewalk that’s making a neighbor envious.
Gloria Villanueva's son is picked up and dropped off by bus every day on his way to and from adult day care.
Maneuvering his wheelchair over the busted sidewalks on the 900 block of South San Joaquin Avenue in front of her house is a daily challenge.
"And now the wheelchair is breaking down,” she said. “The brakes -- because of all that pulling and pushing.”
It’s a struggle she says bus drivers deal with, too.
“They have to take more time with him because they’re trying to figure out where they can drop him off,” Gloria said. “They have to put the van in a certain place.”
Just across the street, it's smooth sailing on the sidewalks thanks to a $113,000 city-funded project that was completed in 2015.
“You had all of the construction equipment already here and I think it’s just a waste of resources when you send something out to be fixed partially,” said Jessie Cardenas, Gloria’s nephew.
The city's department of Transportation and Capital Improvements, or TCI, upgraded the even-numbered side of the street because no sidewalk existed there before.
“The dollar only stretches so far,” said April Luna, with TCI.
The city said Gloria's side of the street was not upgraded because it has sidewalks, even if they're just barely there.
“There's going to be additional costs in that area such a removing the sidewalk that's already there,” Luna said. “So it really does benefit us to stretch the dollar as much as we can by filling gaps where sidewalks do not exist.”
TCI said there are no plans to upgrade the sidewalks on the odd-numbered side of the street, so the only way Gloria will see any improvement is if she agrees to share some of the cost.
The city has a cost-sharing program that allows owners to have their sidewalks upgraded if they agree to pay a percentage of the cost while the city pays the rest.
DEFENDERS: Filling in crack, gaps of city sidewalks
The percentage residents pay, ranging from 30 percent to 50 percent, depends on the zip code in which they live.
“This is a very old neighborhood and we've been left out for the longest time,” Gloria said.
South San Joaquin Avenue is the boundary between City Council District 5 and District 6. Gloria lives on the District 6 side.
District 6 Councilman Ray Lopez said the sidewalks on the odd-numbered side of the street fell through the cracks -- no pun intended.
Lopez, who is not running for re-election, only has weeks left in office but said he is trying to find ways to come up with the funds upgrade to the sidewalks.
“There are funds we’re looking at, Community Development Block Grant funds we're looking at. I’m looking at other projects we've completed to see if any of them came in under budget and we can start teetering off dollars,” said Lopez. “I’m going to try to do my best to get it done this year.”
The councilman said even if only enough money can be scraped together to fund the design and engineering of the project, that would at least guarantee the project must be completed down the road.
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