Thanks to the organizing of LUPE committees, including more than 40 colonia leaders and 300 of their fellow residents, County Commissioners have promised to install streetlights in 10 area colonias.
Colonias that have been promised light include Indian Hills East and Indian Hills West in Precinct 1; Bar 4 in Precinct 2; Colonias El Flaco, La Homa Meadows, Buena Vida, Eduardos 2 and Mi Sueño in Precinct 3; and San Cristobal in Precinct 4. Colonia organization ARISE has organized with LUPE members to secure lighting in colonia Muniz, also in Precinct 4.
“We’re very grateful for the money that has been acquired for the lights. Now for the most important part: the installation.”
Colonia residents organizing with LUPE, like Maria Martinez quoted above, secured the commitment as a result of their weekly delegations to the County Commissioners Court, and individual meetings with Commissioners and their representatives. Plans for the installation are on the books. However, they have been repeatedly pushed back, most notably in Precinct 3 where the commitment to install the lights was made and funds were secured in July of this year.
Most of the colonias have been waiting years for public lighting. One colonia in Precinct 3, Colonia el Flaco Chiquito, has been without light since its founding in the mid 80s.
While we are hopeful that installation will not be stalled again, Precinct 3’s response to other requests for streetlight projects necessarily gives us caution. Precinct officials have avoided committing to the use of CDBG funds annually for streetlight installation. Precinct representative Mingo Villarreal insisted that “sometimes it is not possible.”
“The rationale of Mingo,” says LUPE leader Sergio Narvaez, “is as follows: for a colonia that has been in the dark for 24 years, waiting 2 or 3 more years is not long.”
But for colonia residents, another night in the dark means another night worrying about the safety of their children, crime seeking refuge in their dark neighborhoods, car accidents for lack of adequate lighting, and other perils.
For those reasons, the only acceptable response to Precinct 3, according to Antonia Garcia, Linda Vista resident and leader of LUPE, is “Sí, se puede!”
“We have joined with LUPE, and they have taught us that yes, it can be done!”
Ensuring that the installation takes place in all four precincts will be part of our continued work in 2012.