Earlier this year, Steve Relyea was named president of the Spring Valley Citizens Association, after having been a member for two previous years. Originally from New York State, the former Navy man, who operated and maintained nuclear reactor and associated systems on submarine, found his way to San Diego during his service time, and settled with his wife in Spring Valley.
He has ambitious plans for the SVCA for the upcoming year, and he recently sat down with Mount Helix Patch.
Mount Helix Patch: What new plans do you have for the SVCA this year?
Steve Relyea: We are in the middle of building a new website, because our site is inadequate to say it best. We just got new business cards cards. The way I see these playing out, is the card has our information. It says member of the Spring Valley Citizens Association, it has our mission statement on the back.. The idea is to give each member 10 cards.
The general statement for next year is to spread the word about Spring Valley. We want to continue doing what we’ve done in the past as far as trash cleanups and graffiti paint out, working with sheriff’s department and public safety committee with organizing neighborhood watches and things like that.
Mount Helix Patch: What are the goals you have for the next year?
Relyea: The biggest goal is to increase membership. There’s 90,000 people in Spring Valley. It’s unacceptable that we have a membership of like 200.
Mount Helix Patch: What are some of the tactics you’re using to try and increase that membership?
Relyea: First tactic was getting business cards. If you go to the Chamber mixer or some other event and say, “Hey, I’m in the Citizens Association, no one remembers. But if everyone has a business card, and is able to talk about it and give out cards it’s gonna drive people to the website. And the website will hopefully be catchy enough so that people will be interested. I’m also going to go door-to-door, and have gone door-to-door to just introduce myself and shake a hand, and tell people about us.
Mount Helix Patch: Are you planning any community outreach events?
Relyea: Yes, April 21 we are doing a “community conversation.” That is going to be our big event of the year, where we have the sheriff’s department, fire department, code enforcement, planning group, Chamber of Commerce, and we’re actually planning a joint mixer with the Chamber, so that the Chamber’s mixer is 5-7 p.m. and the community conversation with the figureheads will start at 7 and go till 8:30 or something like that. The finer details are still being worked out.
Mount Helix Patch: What are some of the big issues you guys want to take on this next year?
Relyea: Along with membership, I feel like we do need a big project to tackle to get all of Spring Valley behind. One of the ideas that I have is we want to try and put the nicest dog park in San Diego County in Lamar Park. But with funding and different things there’s an issue, so I’ve been trying to figure out what the dollar amount is to get a dog park. I can’t imagine it’s going to be some extraordinary number. I think that it needs fencing, and some other things. Another problem is that there’s transients living in Lamar Park and no one wants to go there. I can see people from Spring Valley, El Cajon, Rancho [San Diego] coming to that dog park because it’s easily accessible from highways. The more people we can drive in from those areas will drive economic prosperity.
Mount Helix Patch: What are the steps that need to happen to make that a reality?
Relyea: We need to figure out what the biggest hurdle is. I don’t even know what that would be. We need to figure out what has stopped progress before. I could definitely use assistance on that. If it’s just a money thing, money is not an issue. I don’t have the funding to do it, but doing fundraisers – if it takes a year, someone can say, “yeah, I gave $5 to the dog park, and it can be a way to really unify the community.
Mount Helix Patch: What are you doing to mobilize people to get involved?
Relyea: We do plan on doing more outreach events. We do the trash cleanups. The way they’ve been done in the past is we’ve had EDCO or Allied Waste donate a few of massive dumpsters, and we go in the alleyways with flat bed trucks and clear out some of the trash. Three months later when we’re doing it again, guess what, we’re doing it again. There’s more dumping in the area and it’s not always people in the community. More often than not it’s someone who lives in another area who goes out there and thinks it’s a dump. We found some unopened mail from Coronado and downtown San Diego, so we know some of it is coming from other areas.
The old plan was every three months, we’ll do it again. The new plan is two weeks we’ll do it again – not every two weeks, but maybe one, two three in a row, so we can keep that momentum up if people have things they want to clean out and help.
I also plan to continue knocking on doors, a week or two weeks in advance, telling them that we’d like their participation, but just to let them know that we’ll be out there. Here’s the information for the citizens’ association. I feel that will be more effective than just coming in like a ghost and cleaning up their alleyway. I think it will have more of a positive impact if we let them know in advance.
Mount Helix Patch: What is an overarching accomplishment that you want to happen in 2011?
Relyea: My goal is to at least double the membership over the next year. Start making progress on the dog park – ideally, I’d like to have a park there by the end of 2011. In conjunction with sheriff’s department and the planning board, cracking down on littering. I think just one or two examples of cracking down on someone can really create a little sense of community pride. I think the biggest accomplishment will be known when people that live in Mission Valley, Hillcrest, North Park, South Park, wherever, hear “Spring Valley” and don’t think Swap Meet. When they think something else, that’s when we’ve accomplished our goal.