Texas Public Radio | By Brian Kirkpatrick
Published March 26, 2022 at 6:01 AM CDT
Bexar County Commissioners last week directed staff to enter negotiations with Proton International on a property tax abatement as an incentive to build a proton treatment center for cancer patients in the Medical Center area.
The $62 million facility would be the first of its kind in San Antonio and only the third in Texas. The others are in Irving and Houston. The president of UT Health San Antonio, Bill Heinrich — a cancer survivor himself — explained to commissioners the benefits of proton therapy versus gamma ray therapy.
“It’s less damaging to surrounding tissues, allows a more precise delivery of dose and thereby affords patients a great benefit,” he said.
Henrich estimated up to 1,000 local residents travel out of the area every day for proton treatment elsewhere, which can be a hardship on a cancer patient. The city has already approved incentives worth more than $800,000 to build the facility that would be staffed by UT Health.
In other action last week, commissioners also approved a proposal to apply $1.5 million from the county’s lawsuit settlement fund from opioid-makers towards the Women’s Wellness Campus to expand substance treatment services for women.
The director of the county’s office of criminal justice Mike Lozito told commissioners the goal of the CrossPoint-operated Women’s Wellness Campus is to treat addicted women while also caring for their children on site. Babies born addicted are also treated on site.
Many of the women are inmates from the county jail.
“The funding allows CrossPoint to double the capacity from 20 to 40 beds and expands a number of children allowed to reside at the facility,” he said.
The total expansion cost is $6 million, but CrossPoint and UT Health are also making financial contributions to the project. Commissioners have prioritized substance abuse treatment as the problem soared during the pandemic.
Commissioners last week also heard a presentation to turn the former Republic Golf Course on the Southeast Side into a county park.
Commissioner Tommy Calvert backed the effort to turn the golf course in his Precinct into the Salado Creek County Park and Trail at a cost of $9 million.
Calvert said the park would bring some badly needed amenities to the area, including facilities with those with special needs. It would include splash pads, a skate park, butterfly gardens, farmers markets and event space.
Calvert also said investment is needed in the area where blight has been growing.
Commissioners took no formal action on the park proposal, but County Judge Nelson Wolff directed staff and the San Antonio River Authority to return with more detailed cost estimates.