Commissioner Calvert Delivers Revitalization Again to Southeast Side
Written by KROV News Department on November 15, 2021
Republic Golf Course, Southeast Baptist Hospital, Hotwells Park, UIW Medical School Part of Commissioner’s Turn Around Legacy
In a video, posted Monday, November 15, 2021, Commissioner Tommy Calvert laid out the latest plan to ensure that blight is not the fate of the former Republic Golf Course, located on the southeast side. On September 14, 2021, the Bexar County Commissioners Court approved $12.3 million for building a new linear parkway further southeast along Salado Creek.
The Republic Golf Course, located on Southeast Military Drive, closed its doors for good on May 3, 2020. Like many businesses in the early pandemic, the ownership cited declining revenues as the reason for the site’s closure. Once touted as the resurrection of the Pecan Valley Course and known for its affordability, residents were shocked to hear news about its closing.
Commissioner Calvert recognized the significant role green spaces and parks play in keeping families safe and healthy. As a result, he championed the funding of a plan created by developer Laddie Denton of Bitterblue Inc. to create amenities not currently found in the area such as a full special needs accessible park, splash pads, fitness areas, autism spectrum disorder friendly play, basketball courts, soccer fields, baseball fields, skate park, butterfly gardens, farmers markets, event spaces, and water re-use irrigation systems.
“Because the East Central School district has been so exemplary and because of my recruitment efforts that started with me convening 72 developers at Holt Caterpillar in 2017 to chart out the growth in the East Central area, the housing growth on the southeast is its greatest in history. That’s why I jumped at the opportunity to fund additional parks and athletic fields for the people of the southeast side,” explained Precinct 4 Commissioner Tommy Calvert.
Turning around shuttered businesses across Precinct 4 is a well-known hallmark of Calvert’s leadership. During his 2014 election, he promised to do something about the closure of Southeast Baptist Hospital and ensure it would not make the area along East Southcross blighted or economically depressed.
Commissioner Calvert brought people to the location and urged the Baptist System to do what was prohibited in deed restrictions, like selling the property to a competing health care system.
On January 10, 2017, then Methodist Healthcare Ministries CEO, Kevin Moriarty, called Commissioner Calvert to tell him that they struck an unlikely agreement with the owners to develop a $17 million medical clinic, dental clinic, athletic facility, multi-purpose community center, and church chapel they call the Bishop Dixon Center, named after Bishop Ernest T. Dixon who was an African-American Bishop from San Antonio who served as the national President of the Council of United Methodist Bishops.
On January 12, 2017, Commissioner Calvert made a Facebook post stating, “This is one of the most significant infusions of investment in the Pecan Valley area in years and I am so grateful that Methodist Healthcare Ministries answered our prayers. Equally as important is the spirit of goodwill that the Baptist Healthcare System showed in selling the facility to another healthcare institution. This is a miracle because the original contract restrictions of the Baptist system indicated that Southeast Baptist Hospital could not be sold to another competitor’s healthcare system. However, they clearly made an exception because of the public outcry and their spirit of civic duty and now all of us will be blessed with a new beginning at the old Southeast Baptist Hospital that will make all of us proud for more many generations. Thank you both!”
The Bishop Ernest T. Dixon Health & Wellness Center offers a complete menu of programs and services under one roof including medical, dental, counseling, diabetes education, food pantry, health education, immunizations, lab, Medicaid and CHIP application assistance, nutrition information, pediatrics, physical exams, prescription, referral & transportation assistance, women’s health, pharmacy physical therapy, and oral surgery. All services are offered on a sliding-fee scale based on ability to pay, household income, and family size.
The relocation and expansion of services include dental care equipped with 24 patient chairs, oral surgery, physical therapy offered in partnership with the University of the Incarnate Word School of Physical Therapy, a chapel for prayer and meditation, and a walking trail and benches providing a safe and peaceful place for community members and clinic employees to exercise and relax.
Commissioner Calvert also answered the call of the Sisters of Charity and Dr. Lou Agnese from the University of the Incarnate Word when they asked him to support a clinical skills center at the medical school. The clinical skills center is a place where medical students can intern with the medical service with their professors and the broader southeast side community. This level of skilled medicine is free and open to constituents of Precinct 4 thanks to Calvert leading the court’s sponsorship of the center.
On July 20, 2017, Commissioner Calvert issued a historic statement noting,
“It was my honor to congratulate the University of the Incarnate Word School of Osteopathic Medicine for being recognized under Texas law authored by State Representative Justin Rodriguez, State Senator Carlos Uresti, and signed by Gov. Greg Abbott as an officially recognized medical school in the State of Texas. On behalf of Bexar County Commissioners Court, it is one of the great honors of my life to congratulate the Sisters of the Incarnate Word, the Board of Trustees, the inaugural medical school faculty, and every single member of the inaugural medical school class for making this historic day happen. I look forward to the good use of the new Bexar County Commissioners Court Clinical Skills Center, which I lead Commissioners Court in unanimous support of $1.5 million during last year’s budget cycle to help underwrite its construction. As mentioned the money the court-approved will have a $10 billion impact over the next 10 years. Also a big thank you to Leo Gomez of Brooks City Base for his leadership in making this endeavor possible.”
In August 2017, Commissioner Calvert was the negotiator for the Commissioners Court with developer James Lifshutz, owner of the Hotwells ruins. Calvert brokered a deal allocating 3.92 acres of Hot Wells land for the development of Bexar County’s first historical and cultural-themed park. The agreement sought to stabilize the crumbling ruins of the former spa and hotel for Hollywood and political celebrities with the approval of $5.8 million by the Commissioners Court.
The court had given up on the project but because of Calvert’s strong relationship with Cindy Taylor and Dr. Yvonne Katz, Hotwells Conservancy’s Executive Director and Board Chair, Calvert made the rare decision to jump into Precinct 1 territory to resurrect a deal that was dead as Frankenstein.
During weekends and around the clock, Calvert engaged in shuttle diplomacy between Lifshutz, the Parks Department, members of the Commissioners Court, engineers, and Hotwells Conservancy leadership to smooth out the tensions that caused previous negotiations to fail.
Much of Calvert’s role has been working with community leaders who have been on the ground working for the betterment of the Southeast side. Many of whom, have expressed that without Commissioner Calvert’s contributions, many opportunities would have been unfulfilled.
Cindy Taylor, who also was the founding director of the Southside Chamber of Commerce explained his role stating, “It’s wonderful to see literally decades of planning and visioning happening. Finally, all the planning and dreaming for linking and leveraging of our natural resources are finally coming together. Because when you work at the 10,000 feet level and look down, you know that the people and politics change but that landscape never does. We always soared at 10,000 feet and now to see all of those visions of planning over decades finally coming together, it is a beautiful sight and it is fabulous not only for tourism but it’s a legacy of economies as well. We are linking and leveraging—the dream is finally here.”
Calvert and his team will soon announce plans to increase the number of trees growing in our parks and public spaces to improve climate change and involve community members with sustainability efforts in County parks in the coming weeks.