For years, Montana Vista felt like a forgotten community due to poverty, isolation and a lack of relationships with elected officials. Residents appealed to their then-priest at San Juan Diego Catholic for support in getting much needed basic streets, parks and wastewater services. A longtime leader and co-chair of EPISO, Father Ed Roden-Lucero and EPISO organizers worked with resident leaders, guiding them in their efforts to seek essential infrastructure.
Part of those efforts included community education about the Economically Distressed Areas Program, a program created in 1989 by EPISO/Border Interfaith and sister Texas IAF organizations to address lack of infrastructure in the colonias. That same year, EPISO/BI and Texas IAF organizations got out the vote to amend the Texas Constitution to provide the Texas Water Development Board $200 million dollars to issue grants and loans to install water and wastewater infrastructure in colonias and economically distressed areas. Since 1989, over $1 Billion dollars have been invested in colonias and economically distressed areas across Texas.
Change is coming to Montana Vista. In January, a long-fought for (and separately funded) road extension was newly opened, with four lanes, bike routes, sidewalks, lighting, and landscaping. Now, to community acclaim, El Paso Water is breaking ground for Phase 1 of its water and wastewater project -- scheduled for completion within 18 months.
Over the past 20 years residents of Montana Vista, a Colonia located on the outskirts of El Paso, Texas, felt like a forgotten community because of the poverty, the isolation of the area, and the difficulty to get access to county and state representatives.
They appealed to the then pastor of San Juan Diego Catholic Church, Father Ed Roden-Lucero, who was a longtime leader and co-chair of EPISO, for support in getting much needed basic services and infrastructure for their community.
They began by discussing efforts to get water, wastewater, parks, single-member voting districts for the Clint Independent School District, and for the extension of Greg Rd. to Edgemere Blvd.
The initial request for the extension of the road was for convenience, not safety. However, when a serious accident occurred that closed the only entrance to this community for more than 8 hours during the day, they saw the urgency in pushing elected officials for the extension of Greg Rd to Edgemere. They held accountability sessions with candidates and obtained commitments from the then newly elected county commissioner, Vince Perez. Leaders attended meetings and hosted hundreds of house meetings with the constituency to push for the safety improvements and extension of the roads.
On the day of the accident there was no access in or out of the Montana Vista area for a whole day. The only way out or in was to take a one-hour detour to Horizon Blvd and then through back roads. It was chaos for parents taking their children to school, buses picking up and dropping off children, and people going to and from work. The extension of Greg Rd. became the only solution for the safety of the community.
Today we gathered with Fr. Ed Roden-Lucero, leaders of San Juan Diego, residents of Montana Vista, and county commissioner Vince Perez at the opening of the new four lane road with bike routes, sidewalks, lighting, and landscaping. Together we all celebrated the accomplishment of the extension and the countless hours of work that the leaders and residents invested to make their community safer.