Somebody Did Something
Good Neighbor Gathers Team to Remove Unsightly Brush, Trees and Trash Along Evans Road
By Amy Morgan
Now that vegetation has greened up, trees that didn’t survive last year’s deep freeze are even more apparent. Dead, broken branches blight our scenic neighborhoods. Somebody should do something! But who, exactly?
One local resident, Eric Mapes, had seen enough of the ugly trees on Evans Road. He was dismayed to realize that the City of San Antonio will not cut down dead trees unless they endanger a home or power line. The hulking shells were there to stay… unless Somebody would do something. Eric decided to invest in the project.
“I’m just that somebody who finds a way if something needs to be fixed,” he said.
Eric tapped into social media and organized a group of 40+ neighbors to cut down and clean up dead trees, brush and trash along Evans Road the last Saturday of April. Volunteers from Tejeda Middle School, Encino Park Elementary, Johnson High School and adults from neighborhoods along Evans Roads began cleaning at the Sprouts at Caliza and Evans Roads, working their way through the Pinon Creek area up to Tejeda Middle School. A handful of men wielded their own personal chainsaws to cut down approximately 14 dead trees. Others hauled unsightly undergrowth or gathered trash to fill 20 bags.
Although the city didn’t send a work crew, Eric connected with District 9 Councilman John Courage’s office, which did furnish dumpsters, a brush-lifting crane and paid for the off-duty deputy to patrol a perimeter as volunteers worked at the street’s edge.
Eric chased a paper trail to make the clean-up idea a reality. He secured a permit from the city to cut down the trees, purchased safety vests and gloves for volunteers, reached out to local schools and posted the event on Facebook and Nextdoor to recruit workers.
Just 24 hours after the last of three dumpsters drove away, Eric’s posts had already generated close to 100 positive responses. Kyle Miller posted, “I’m very happy with how much we got done!” Sarah Gilbert also was inspired, “It’s great when a community joins together for a common goal.” Anthony Gallegos agreed, “Good ole community activism at work with real and tangible results… the area looks great!”
Eric and his wife, Cindy, are no stranger to community activities. They’ve actively promoted National Neighborhood Night Out in the Fox Grove Community from which the family’s two daughters attended Johnson High School. An avid gardener, the Mapes’ efforts won them the coveted Yard of the Month title last spring. Eric also serves as a deacon at San Pedro Presbyterian Church, which the family has attended for more than two decades.
Eric published the Streets of San Antonio, chronicling the lives of early San Antonio founders like the Maltsburger, Coker and Isom famlies, information he recently presented to the Encino Park Women’s Club. He’s also written two Journal Books filled with touching stories from his daughter’s lives. His current title chronicles the histories of the cities that line US Highway 281 from Mexico to Canada. Eric hopes to expand his neighborhood efforts to service projects several times a year – providing much needed activity and connecting new friends to strengthen the community. What a good neighbor!