CONVERSE — A federal grant leveraged through cooperation with Bexar County will bring a much-needed community center to fruition, city leaders said.
Converse recently was awarded a $181,171 Community Development Block Grant from Bexar County Commissioners Court to transform half of its old City Hall building into the center.
The other part of the structure will be demolished, with vacant space used as overflow parking serving the new edifice and city library.
Municipal officials moved quickly to become a candidate for financing after learning of the city’s eligibility, Mayor Al Suarez said.
“It’s not every day you can apply for funding and receive $180,000,” Suarez said.
A community center was one of several recreational initiatives Converse addressed in its 2019-2023 Strategic Plan. The renovation project will fall under the city’s 2020 budget plan.
One of the benchmarks for obtaining CDBG dollars requires towns and counties to commit to providing improved neighborhood services and facilities.
The center will primarily cater to seniors who desire resources unavailable at other institutions, including food pantries, seminars and medical briefings.
It also will be open to military veterans and children.
There are about 4,000 elderly Converse residents, according to Suarez.
Such numbers are expected to increase when the city completes the next stage of its annexation agreement with San Antonio in the coming year.
“I see the aging population here, and we need to take care of them,” Suarez said. “A lot of them stay at home with nothing to do. (At the community center), they can watch movies and do different activities. We are doing whatever we can to make sure that the seniors live comfortably in Converse.”
Helping these folks is a continued goal of city government, the mayor said.
“We are big on families, and being able to do a lot of things for families makes my day,” Suarez said.
The project will be split into phases; the first is razing the right side of the old City Hall, which is plagued by foundation problems, Suarez added.
Refurbishments to the remainder will begin when the town receives the allocation from Bexar County.
Suarez estimates the entire project will cost $750,000.