SAN JOSE -- Cruising through the streets of Alviso where his family has lived for nearly a century, Richard Santos surveyed the modest cottages fronted by strips of dirt and gravel, condemning what he called failures on the city's "boulevard of broken dreams."

"Look at these people," he said, pointing at a back street bungalow. "Do they have a sidewalk? Do they deserve a sidewalk? It's been 46 years, and what do we have?"

In the city's northernmost pocket, a historic part of town whose residents historically feel neglected, the latest and possibly largest reason for umbrage looms: a 57-acre development on former Cisco property that will include office buildings and three large-scale facilities that together will total nearly 550,000 square feet of space for "high-tech manufacturing."

Though city officials and economic analysts argue it will add much-needed modern facilities to Silicon Valley and a bounty of jobs, residents like Santos dread diesel fumes, noise and traffic that they say will sound a death knell for Alviso's quaint and quiet atmosphere.

"They're bringing in the trucks," Santos said. "And that's going to ruin this community. There's no question about it."

Santos has a laundry list of beefs with the way Alviso has been treated since the once-independent town became part of San Jose in 1968. He cites promised infrastructure that never materialized, leaving roadside ditches that serve as mosquito breeding grounds. There's also the three-story townhouses that landed along the main drag a decade ago, high density housing that doesn't jibe with the Alviso style. And for the kids, there's an unlit, gopher-hole-pocked ball field good for nothing but twisting ankles.

Hardy residents who have weathered such drawbacks for decades worry the latest development could be the wave that finally sinks Alviso.

Some say they've finally had enough.

At a recent heated neighborhood meeting, about 100 Alviso residents told city staff and developers in no uncertain terms what they think of the project, which includes 76 truck bays that evoke visions of a bustling distribution hub.

"We don't want it!" was the communal cry. "No trucks in Alviso!"

The proposed project includes three office buildings and the three large manufacturing plants off North First Street and Disk Drive, adjacent to George Mayne Elementary School and a residential tract. While Cisco had envisioned additional office space on the land and had such uses stamped for approval by the city back in 2000, the current developer said that's no longer the best-suited use for the tract.

And while residents believe the truck bays lend themselves to an Amazon type of operation, the developer maintains that's not ideal, either.

"Honestly, we looked at a warehousing project for the site," said John Greer, head of Texas-based developer Trammell Crowe's Northern California division. "We met with groups and came away realizing that the community would not be happy with a distribution center."

What Silicon Valley lacks, Greer said, are large-scale manufacturing centers: plants that put together a finished product, with the dirty part of the job done offshore but assembly completed close to consumers.

"You take the cost of shipping vs. the cost of labor, and it's becoming more advantageous to build the product here," Greer said. "It's a big issue in Silicon Valley."

The developer recently released a revised plan after hearing out the concerned community. Now, dressed-up, office-style entryways ring the manufacturing center and a third fewer truck docks are confined to an area hidden from the surrounding streets and elementary school.

"Plans evolve, you got to get the right mix," said Greer. "You need to get investors, it's got to make sense to them, and you need to balance that with the needs of the community. That's the job of a developer, and we believe this is the right combination."

Opponents were unimpressed.

"It's not a very creative revision," said Jonah Probell, who has urged city planners to reject it. "It doesn't address the problem that warehouses don't create many jobs and brings trucking to town."

And Santos, who serves on the Santa Clara County Water District board and owns considerable property in Alviso, said those big rigs would bring noise from 6 a.m. until midnight plus additional traffic and worst of all, health concerns from pollution and added dangers for pedestrians.

"They're going to jeopardize our children," said Santos, whose late father was a fiery Alviso mayor. "Who are we going to hold responsible when one of our children is killed by a truck? They got to be reasonable."

Greer said those trucks will not roam Alviso's streets and travel less than a mile between the facility and the freeway. He said a new environmental study found the pollution increases will not be substantial. An estimated "couple hundred" truck trips a day are essentially a trade-off for the 500 additional cars that had been envisioned in the original plan for offices. Greer estimated that the facility would bring in about 1,100 jobs. And Councilman Kansen Chu, who represents Alviso and North San Jose, agreed that manufacturing plants and resulting jobs, are needed in the area.

"All manufacturing facilities in San Jose are obsolete," he said. "We want more manufacturing jobs, and the trend now is to bring more manufacturing jobs back to Silicon Valley. That's the good news.

"They assured me that it would mean manufacturing jobs coming back to the area," said Chu, adding that such jobs stick around because "if a manufacturer moves in, they usually stay longer because of the heavy upfront investment."

According to the 2010 census, Alviso has a predominantly Hispanic population of 2,077, and lifelong residents such as Santos, 70, and Joe Samaro, 55, describe a "Huckleberry Finn" childhood.

"The creeks used to have fish, toads and polliwogs," Samaro said. "All that's gone. As a kid I didn't like all those frogs making all those chirping noises. Now it's sad not to hear it no more."

It's still an idyllic outpost, with climate control courtesy of the San Francisco Bay and breezes that waft away pollution and unpleasant smells from nearby trash and sewage facilities. Take a trip to the boat ramp at the swampland at the northern tip of town and there will still be hunters slipping camouflaged crafts into the Alviso Slough and, in the distance, the occasional report of a shotgun.

"It's a very small town," said 30-year-resident Craig Parada. "Everyone knows everyone, is related to someone, went to school with someone or used to go to their store. Everyone has some kind of history with everyone."

Even so, there is division between residents over whether they should take a tough "no trucks at all" stance or be open to some kind of compromise that would limit the big-rigs or relocate the docks. Many believe the project doesn't comply with the neighborhood's master plan. Those issues are likely to resurface when city planners bring it before the City Council, probably in June. And vocal residents are far from resigned to accepting the latest plan.

Jim Whitecar, a self-professed "newbie" who arrived a decade ago, is in lock step with some of the old-timers and has taken up a familiar maxim.

"We are Alviso," he said. "We will always be Alviso. We are not North San Jose, we're the bastard stepchild of San Jose. They promise us this or promise us that and we never get it."

Contact Eric Kurhi at 408-920-5852. Follow him at Twitter.com/erickurhi.