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San Antonio changes course on road work

Leaders of this small city once planned to use federal funds set aside for poor neighborhoods to rebuild Third Avenue, a one-lane road that runs through orange groves and has no houses on it.

But now, city leaders have changed course, indicating that San Antonio instead would prefer to use the federal grant money to repave another road, McMullen Drive, which leads to the shore of Lake Jovita.

City Clerk Barbara Sessa wrote a letter last week to a county official in charge of helping to distribute the grant money. In the letter to community development specialist Charlene Daprile, Sessa noted that all four candidates in the city's recent election indicated they would like to use the more than $22,000 to repave McMullen Drive if possible.

"What would happen to the funds if our new commission votes not to use them on Third Avenue," Sessa asked in the letter.

Sessa asked Daprile to confirm that McMullen Drive would also be eligible for financing under the grant's guidelines. The road is in the neighboring town of Saint Leo but is owned by the city of San Antonio and offers the only public access to Lake Jovita, also known as Clear Lake.

San Antonio Mayor Roy Pierce said he thinks McMullen Drive is a better choice than Third Avenue because, he said, more people use McMullen.

Daprile said it seems that McMullen would be eligible for the funds. To qualify for the grant, at least 51 percent of those who live in the surrounding census block must be considered low- or moderate-income, she said. She has determined from a 1994 census update that 16 of the 25 residents in that area are low- and moderate-income people.

Daprile said she still has questions about grant guidelines she needs to clear up, and she expects to give San Antonio a formal answer by the end of the week.