Something in common
Today I joined some members of the Downtown Residents Association in a monthly gathering they call the Lunch Bunch. Not to be confused with the DRA’s bi-monthly mixer/happy hour Zocolocos, the Lunch Bunch is a little more subdued but just as much fun. It’s when a smaller gathering of DRA members get together at a restaurant downtown and just catch up on all the things happening downtown, and there’s a lot going on. What’s interesting about the DRA gatherings is how much we have in common as residents of downtown San Antonio. It truly is a neighborhood association, albeit with some of the same and some different problems than your average neighborhood association.
I’ve been a member of the DRA off and on since I moved into The Vistana. I figured it would be a great way to keep up with all the happenings in the area. After all, downtown is much different than many other parts of San Antonio. It’s more pedestrian, has a lot of tourists and activities, has more street closures, and is generally much busier than any other part of San Antonio. Think about it, when you’ve got the two most visited attractions in Texas in your hood, the Alamo and Riverwalk, what else would you expect?
It was a fun luncheon in the Madrid Room in the St. Anthony Hotel. Being a hotel restaurant we pretty much had the entire space to ourselves. Gathering with a group of about 12 ladies and one other gentleman I got to find out a lot about how downtown living has evolved. One of the best sources was our birthday celebrant, Mary Schmid, who just turned 95. Even at that age, Mary was a wealth of conversation and information. Mary lives in Brady Towers and has enjoyed living downtown for over a decade. The St. Anthony honored Mary with a small piece of chocolate decadence. Really nice!
It turns out we not only have a lot in common; some of those common things are issues we face downtown such as parking, transit, and a grocery store. Things I thought were just my issues are the same as several of the other residents of downtown. Traveling to the luncheon I decided to take the Red Trolley from The Vistana about eight blocks down Houston. It’s about a 15 minute walk but, with it as hot as it is outside, I decided to ride the trolley. True to form, riding that eight blocks took 30 minutes because of how long the trolleys wait at Market Square.
Sometimes you can get a trolley right when you need them. However, most times the trolleys take a while to get to your stop and sometimes you end up with two or three trolleys right in a row. My worst experience was trying to ride the Blue Trolley to Madison Square Presbyterian Church. The trolley was late and when it arrived there were two. I got on the first trolley and watched the second one follow us to the library. What happened at the library was insane. My trolley waited at the library for 10 minutes because it was “early” and the trolley behind us went around us and kept going. Huh? VIA, are you reading?
Most likely not, because, as I found out from the Lunch Bunch, VIA rarely responds to anyone. Residents at the Granada Homes had to threaten VIA with graphic photos of the lurid activities of people waiting for the bus when they tried to get a bus stop moved from in front of their door. With a threat of “these photos will be shown to council” VIA took action and changed some of the service at that stop. Others at the table expressed similar problems with the downtown trolleys and intermittent service.
The bottom line was that we were neighbors discussing neighborhood things, some good and some bad. Those that are bad we take action on and the benefits affect all who live, work or visit downtown. That’s the beauty of having residents downtown. We work to help make downtown a better place to be. After all it’s where we live.