Newsletter July-August 2016

Newsletter July-August 2016

President’s Message

When I was a kid, I loved playing in my family sandbox.  I was an early riser and was well on my way to a wonderful city or farm when my brother would join me, and I had to share the space.  I didn’t always want to do that – even though I knew from the day before and the day before that I would have to.  Living in San Antonio today, perhaps you get that feeling too.  Your life is kind of nice the way it is, but you know you can’t keep it that way – more and more ‘brothers’ are sharing your space.  Over 1.1 million by 2040, as it turns out.  And, that means 500,000 new jobs and 500,000 new dwelling units!

As a neighborhood we count on our City to plan for this new growth, even though there are times when the growing pains are stressful.  The trick is going to be to have all of us work with the three Plans being developed now – Comprehensive, Sustainability, and Transportation –“to utilize concrete goals and action plans to ensure strategic growth and the preservation of San Antonio’s character, while improving quality of life for all,” as the Plan says.

What does this mean for VJNI?  Being close to the Medical Center and other economic generators, we will be one of those areas where changes are going to occur.  Some neighborhoods have planning documents with maps and detailed suggestions for land use and zoning that are referred to when change is introduced.  VJNI does not have a formal planning document.  But, in 1998 VJNI did set goals, recognized by the Planning Department.  They are:

  1. Traffic
    • To live in a community where cars and people can circulate freely and safely.
    • To minimize traffic in the neighborhood.
    • To build more sidewalks and curbs.
    • To participate in the planning of local roadway improvements.
  2. Safety
    • To live in a safe community for children and adults
  3. Land Use Development
    • To live in a community that is not noisy and has more open space and recreational facilities for children and adults.

How will these goals be treated by the City as the population doubles?  The City has to treat all neighborhoods as fairly as possible, yet in many areas there are no neighborhood associations at all, let alone ones with detailed plans.  To get a handle on this, the major building blocks of the San Antonio of the future will include:

  • Neighborhoods – treasured assets and the foundation of our city. Neighborhood planning will provide the foundation for new Community and Regional Center Plans.  Addressing these neighborhoods as part of these larger Plans creates the ability to deal with major community assets and constraints.  In some instances this will mean neighborhood plan revision.
  • Corridors – will link our neighborhoods to each other and to the urban and regional centers, while providing safe and comfortable multimodal transportation options
  • Urban centers – vary in size and serve as community destinations and employment nodes for multiple nearby neighborhoods
  • Regional centers – are the employment and activity nodes of our City and provide the best opportunity for absorbing our projected population and employment growth in a way that preserves and maintains the character of our neighborhoods. VJNI is likely to fall into this category.  The bad news is that we can expect changes, whether we want them or not.  The good news is that there will be three sets of planning goals and implementation strategies to help us make those changes.

To learn more about the City’s planning efforts, go to:,, and  These documents are on their way to City Council on August 4.  During the first five-year implementation phase, I’ve heard that the City will host neighborhood summits, where the conversations will go from the bottom up, not the top down.  I hope so, and I hope you will be involved.

VJNI Board President

June Kachtik

The Real Story: The Summit Sign @ Wurzbach & Tioga

By Matt McCrossen


Did you ever wonder who is responsible for entrance signs in neighborhoods with HOAs?

If you’re like many neighbors then you probably do, but there hasn’t been a pressing need to find out the full answer.

By chance on afternoon I was stopping by my house to pick up items for a meeting.  On the way out of the neighborhood, I saw a white truck parked in the street and a man working on the two, red brick walls where “The Summit” signs are mounted.

I parked behind the truck and figured this was an opportunity to find out who maintains the two signs. Luckily my client and owner of TASCO Air Conditioning lives in The Summit and a quick text to him let him know I’d be 15 minutes late.

The man carrying sheet metal into his pickup in front of me politely waited to approach med until I finished my text messaging.  He put the sign in his truck and I put my phone in my pocket. What followed was an amazing story of self-motivation, civic duty and pride for where we live.

Ryan Chism is second generation at The Chism Company – a local family-owned small business that fabricates metal and has a full-service canvas shop.

Ryan and his family moved to The Summit in 2007. He grew up in nearby Hunter’s Creek and had many friends from school and Little League who lived in The Summit. He explained he was very happy to find a home there also.

About five years ago, the entrance to our neighborhood started getting tagged. There was repeated graffiti on the traffic light box and on the entrance signs. Separately, a few people in the neighborhood would clean off the markings or paint over them.  Ryan said: “I started keeping spray paint in my truck so I could cover up the tagging whenever I noticed it. In early February, the entrance signs got tagged again with very large letters, bad enough that the signs needed to be fully replaced. Knowing we will continue to fight the tagging, I wanted to find a way to build the new signs so they could be taken down, repainted and put back up quickly.”

He was impressed at the level of concern and personal time already invested in handling the issue first hand. Ryan further explained how he came up with a creative idea to abate the graffiti. “Having two colors on the sign was a challenge, so I sat down with a few of the guys in our family business to see if we could find a solution. We have a plasma cutter for sheet metal in our workshop so we decided to make the replacement sign with ‘knock-out’ letter. Then I painted the back surface of the sign area dark brown so that color would show through the cut-out letters.”

“My kids helped me put the new signs up one Saturday afternoon. The signs have removable hardware so if they are tagged, we can take them down and repaint the whole sign and backing it either color without it having smudges or smears from just doing a touch up. It’s not ideal, and this is probably just the first iteration, but I think it will solve our problem and help us move toward further beautifying the front of our neighborhood.”

Ryan and I continued to discuss the graffiti issue and joked about setting up camera with nigh vision to identify the taggers and that maybe the City will help us out with that expense.

Thanks Ryan and The Chism Company!


20 Things you didn’t know you could do at the San Antonio Public Library

By. Marcie Hernandez

You’ve been to the library. You’ve studied here. You’ve checked out a book or two. You know where the closest branch is to you and you love the library! But did you know you could do the following 20 things at the San Antonio Public Library (SAPL) ……

  1. Check out books and DVDs
    1. Okay, so maybe you already knew that. But did you know you can check out up to 50 items at once? You can have up to 50 hardback and paperback books or magazines checked out on one library card at one time. This includes 5 DVDs per card, 10 music CDs, 10 audiobooks and 15 eAudiobooks and eBooks.
  2. Check out a book at 3 a.m.
    1. Can’t make it into one of the library branches during regular business hours? You can access SAPL’s entire collection 24/7 at org. Place a book on hold to pick up later, or download an eBook straight to your computer or mobile device. You can also access databases, log-on for free online homework help and check out the schedule of upcoming events.
  3. Experience other cultures
    1. SAPL celebrates the diversity of the San Antonio Community and offers many programs and resources in both English and Spanish, including book clubs, children’s story times, technology, homework, job help and more. The library also celebrates diversity with cultural programming during Native American Heritage Month, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Hispanic Heritage month and other national yearly celebrations.
  4. Improve your computer skills and learn how to use mobile devices
    1. Like the Apple Store Geniuses or the Geek Squad, SAPL staff is available to assist you with learning how to use your own mobile devices including smartphones, iPads or eReaders, and how to use the library’s own digital services and equipment. You can also find help learning software and programs related to job searching or career advancement.
  5. Play Video Games
    1. Teens 13 -18 can visit the library to play the latest video games with their friends. You can event take part in a tournament, or create games and activities surrounding your favorite games. Children can play fun and educational computer games on specially-designed computer terminals. Adults don’t feel left out! Take advantage of the Library’s public computers and free WiFi to play your favorite online games.
  6. Learn how to knit/embroider and do other fun crafts
    1. At SAPL you can learn to knit a scarf, make a blanket, crochet, embroider, you name it. Join an existing club or start your own. Library branches offer numerous opportunities to use your hands in creative and artistic ways. Whether you’re learning woodworking, scrapbooking or painting, visit the library for help!
  7. Read to a dog
    1. Who let the dogs in? SAPL did! Trained therapy dogs lend their ears to eager readers at Brook Hollow, Guerra, Igo, Pan American and Parman branch libraries weekly. The program allows readers to practice the skill of reading in a fun and relaxing environment. Help build your child’s reading skills and self-esteem with Read to a Dog. Bring your favorite animal story to read, or choose from one of ours.
  8. Find a long-lost ancestor
    1. Located at the Central Library, the Texana/Genealogy Department acquires, preserves and offers access to research materials relating to San Antonio, Bexar County and Texas history, and North American and Hispanic genealogy. Home to historical books, periodicals, maps, newspaper clippings, city directories, census records and military records, these collections are some of the Library’s most valuable resources. Texana also offers free classes each month covering genealogical research and a variety of other topics. Writing a paper for school? Researching your family tree? Let the staff at Texana/Genealogy guide you! You can also access for free on any of the library’s public computers.
  9. Get copies of your important vital records
    1. A program partnership between the SAPL, the Office of the City Clerk and San Antonio Metropolitan Health District means that birth certificates and immunization records (for those born in 2005 or later) are available at four branches of the San Antonio Public Library- Great Northwest, Las Palmas, Mission and Thousand Oaks.
  10. Register to vote
    1. All Library locations are designated as voter registration Every person of voting age, who applies in person for an original or renewal of a library card, will be given an opportunity to complete a voter registration application form. Already have a library card? You can still register to vote at any location. Many SAPL locations are also official voting sites.
  11. Download and KEEP 5 songs a week
    1. Thanks to SAPL’s Freegal Service, library card holders can download and keep up to 5 songs per week. These include songs from Sony Music Entertainment artists in MP3 format. You can search the catalog by artist, song title or genre. In addition, cardholders can stream three free hours of music a day!
  12. Make money and find career fulfillment
    1. Whether you’re interested in switching careers, starting your own business or just sprucing up your resume, SAPL can help! Visit the Jobs and Small Business Center at Central Library for help searching for a job or to perform business research. Use our online career center for help with resume writing and interviews, or visit Learn at SAPL at Westfall, Bazan, Carver or Cortez branch libraries for help with GED preparation, basic computer skills training and more.
  13. Explore works of art
    1. Many of our library buildings themselves are works of art, and are home to extraordinary pieces like the “”Windmill Signifier” by James Hetherington at Igo Library and the “Fiesta Tower” by Dale Chihuly at Central Library. Branch Libraries also host exhibits and lectures by local artists as well as programs like family-friendly art instruction classes with ArtPace. Central Library is even home to the Marie Swartz Art Resource Center, the Southwest School of Art’s library of record, where patrons and visitors can access art books, journals, databases and programming.
  14. Get live homework help from an online tutor, or take GED and other practice tests
    1. Is your child’s algebra going right over your head? Take advantage of SAPL’s Live Homework Help, an online program that links students to qualified, background-checked tutors for live real-time coaching sessions. The service offers access to tutors in math, science, social studies, and English, for grade levels from fourth grade to introductory college courses, and in both English and Spanish. Mobile formats even allow users to access Live Homework Help from a smartphone or iPad. SAPL also offers Learning Express Library, a database that offers study and test prep guides to help students prepare for important tests like the ACT and SAT, get extra help with assignments, and boost their skills in important subjects.
  15. Dial-a-story
    1. Imagine: it’s bed time, your child is ready for their bedtime story, and alas, you’ve read everything on the shelf and haven’t had a chance to pick up some new books from the library! Never fear, Dial-a-story is here! Call 207-4466 for a pre-recorded story in English and Spanish, read by our children’s librarians.
  16. Build a robot, fly a drone and learn how to code!
    1. Teens 13-18 are invited to experiment with technology at the library. SAPL offers the tools, devices, instruments, and equipment for teens to create and collaborate. You can learn how to use a 3D printer or 3D pen, code using an Arduino, build a robot using Lego Mindstorms, fly a drone, make your own movie using a green screen and iPads with iMovie and other cool tech stuff.
  17. Get fit
    1. Build your mind and muscles with health and fitness resources from the San Antonio Public Library. A number of library locations are home to outdoor fitness centers, walking trails and playgrounds. SAPL also offers classes in partnership with the San Antonio Department of Parks & Recreation including yoga and cycling. And don’t forget about the other fitness resources at the library, including workout videos, books on healthy cooking and more!
  18. Attend concerts, movie screenings and author lectures
    1. Take advantage of all of the free and fun programming at the Library. Dozens of exciting events take place at local library branches daily, including movie screenings, author talks, book clubs, story hours, arts & crafts, exhibits, plays, performances and so much more. Family members of all ages can take part in fun events. Check our online calendar of events often at
  19. Impress your friends
    1. Be in-the-know on the latest titles and be the first to discover the next great read with help from the Central Library Fiction Team and Reader’s Advisors at library branches. They can recommend titles based on your interests, and always know what’s new in the literary world! You can also find their suggestions online.
  20. Keep us in your pocket
    1. That’s right, keep SAPL with you at all times with the mySAPL app. The app lets library card holders browse recent arrivals, check out the New York Times bestseller list, search the catalog, check the status of your holds and so much more. Don’t remember when your current checked out book is due, or want to renew a title? Use the app to check the status of your items or to renew your books! Need to pay a fine? Use the app to connect to our online payment system. Found a book at the store and want to know if it’s available at the library? Use the app and your phone’s camera to scan the book’s ISBN and search the catalog. The mySAPL app is just another innovative way that SAPL delivers services to the San Antonio Community.

We hope this list has inspired you to take a trip to your local library, to discover something new and fun for yourself and your family!