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New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung (Newspaper) - February 13, 2000, New Braunfels, Texas Pige 8A HBRALDZEITUNO Sunday Febmary COMMENTARY Dont let the chamber run our town BY SEARS Special to the HeraldZeitung I am writing this letter in response to a statement made by Councilmember Juliet Watson at the coun cil meeting some four weeks ago At that meeting she stated that because of the apathy of citizens in her district she would vote in favor of the Walgreens relocation She made a very good point and as a result citizens of her district called her to request she change her vote She has since done so Councilmember Watsons statement about apathy applies not only to the citizens of her district but also to the citizenry as a whole The citywide apa thy was evident at the Jan 24 meeting The issues discussed at that meeting involved not just one dis trict but the entire city City Council was asked to renegotiate the Chamber of Commerce contract in midterm a favorite ruse so as to tie the city into a contract for a longer period with no other agency to make a bid for city motel tax money Mr Meek of the Chamber of Commerce stood up and made a great show when he held his binder with what the Chamber had presented when the contract went out to bids which was three times larger than others but sometimes larger is not better just overwhelm ing This time it appeared that the results were a fore gone conclusion since the extra motel tax money that the city would get would be put aside for an as yet unapproved convention center I say this because Mr Michael Meek of the Chamber of Commerce stated not once but at least twice The convention center will be ready in the year 2002 and this vote has to be acted on tonight if plans are to go I assume that in the near future a separate ordi nance will be on the agenda to have the city council vote to approve this preordained Chamber of Commerce and business sector convention center On that night the City Council chamber should not be large enough to hold all the citizens and by this I mean taxpayers not just business taxpayers to voice their sentiments on this subject The Chamber of Commerce will make a very art fully and assumptionfilled presentation to tell you why a large convention center should be built They will tell you of the entire sale tax dollars that it will bring of the per person per day that will be spent ty cptiyentiotieets and they will tell you If we build it they will come I lived in San Antonio and I heard that same state ment from then Mayor Henry Cisneros the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce and the business sector of San Antonio who said If we build the Alamodome they the National Football League will The NFL never considered going to San Antonio The large conventions such as the Democratic and Republican National Conventions spurned San Antonio even as the city spent over in goodies for each member of these selec tion committees They told San Antonio that the venue wasnt good enough Lately the Spurs told San Antonio that they didnt want to play in the Alamodome that it wasnt a good basketball venue and as a result they will get a new arena In fact Sari Antonio knew long ago that the Alamodome was not a good venue for conventions and they rebuilt the old convention center to accommodate medium to small conventions Build it and they will come maybe they will but will each and every conventioneer spend a day in New Braunfels I doubt it Most will get to New Braunfels through San Antonio where they will rent a car at the airport They then will make the 30minute drive to New Braunfels After a day of sitting in a meeting at the convention center they will go back to their rooms relax shower and in groups drive to where else San Antonio and the River Walk for a good meal and a few drinks Maybe then they will find their way to St Marys Street for some evening entertainment or if they want a change they will wander up to Austin and head for Sixth Street Thats where the a day will go I find it far fetched to believe that the Chamber of Commerce really thinks these people will board a bus to be dri ven downtown to roam the large museums in New Braunfels It was alleged at the Jan 24 Council meeting that the members of the City Council were being paid off by the Chamber of Commerce While I dont believe that I and many others do believe the majority of the Council are at least in bed with the Chamber This has been apparent in many votes this past year On to the proposed convention center the Chamber claims it will be built at no cost to the city taxpayers or with funds from the general fund Maybe so but who will pay for the ongoing costs The operation maintenance electricity cleaning grounds maintenance liability and other insurance costs This building will require additional city workers who will gain all the perks provided by the city All of these costs will come from the general funds and guess where these funds come from These funds come from the taxes paid by the city property owners I believe the time has come in New Braunfels for a homeowner taxpayer COPStype organization to be formed to force the City Council members to break away from the Chamber of Commerce influ ence and heed the taxpaying citizens of this town The Council needs to remember who put them in office and listen to their demands It is uncon scionable for the Council to rezone a small piece of property from residential to commerce for the bene fit of one river ride operator who is a Chamber of Commerce member over the objections of the homeowners in the area as was done last year and in fact continues to this date The green of the Chamber of Commerce must be stopped It is time for the citizens of New Braunfels to take back control of the town and force the elected City Council to abide by the citizens wishes I urge all citizens to fill the council chambers to overflowing during the upcoming meetings and make your wishes known Please do not let only Chamber of Commerce and special interest groups run our town any longer Sears is a New Braunfels LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Dont remove options for council Dear Editor The current Convention Center petition does not represent the consensus of Conservation Society even though some mem bers may agree with the petition Conservation Society is dedicated to the preservation of our com munitys history and is a non profit organization whose budget relies in part upon the generation of the tax We oper ate Conservation Plaza Lindheimer Home and Wagenfuehr Property on a year round basis and we are always looking for ways to increase visi tors to our properties especially in the off season Our City Council should have the right to consider any and all tegal methods to dedicate room tax fimds paid by visitors to bene fit our community This includes the consideration of a future con vention facility When visitors come to a convention meeting they are captured and looking for things to do It is our hope that Conservation Society sites will be a part of itineraries developed for these visitors Thus we do not support the current petition drive to take away options for elected City Council members regarding the use of bed tax funds Our City Council members may decide that now is not the time to build a convention facility however our present Council or future one should have the right to allocate room tax funds paid by visitors to items like a convention center that is allowed by law Sincerely Martha Rehler Director Conservation Society Like it or not growth will happen Dear Editor On behalf of the New Braunfels Lodging Restaurant Association I wish to make the following statements regarding the petition currently being circulated in an attempt to change the usage of the occupancy tax monies If the HOT monies are not used in the intelligent promotion of tourism the economy of New Braunfels will be impacted nega tively Unfortunately for those res idents who have fond memories of quieter times New Braunfels will never be the sleepy charming vil lage it was a halfcentury ago Like it or not growth will occur If New Braunfels does not plan for that growth in a wise manner it will become only a reactionary victim of growth rather than a sue cessful controller and beneficiary thereof The tourism industry employs approximately 2000 people on a yearround basis and that number grows to about 5000 during the peak season Many of those peak season employees are our children many of whom are earning pre cious money to pay for schooling clothes etc Are we to deprive our children of these means of income and in many cases a foundation a training ground if you will for their future If the tourism industry should diminish it would result in higher unemployment rates fewer dollars available to employees to spend locally less sales tax collected locally an economic downturn for businesses with whom the employees spend their income and as always higher unemploy ment results in higher crime statis tics I cant think of anyone in New Braunfels who wants that scenario to materialize The residents of this community are good solid upright citizens and wish only the best for New Braunfels Now is the time for all factions to come together and work out their differ ences in order to move forward in successful harmony The petition should not be signed and certainly not ratified Those dollars must be spent judi ciously in order to protect and grow our industry and economy Sincerely Dan Henry CHA President TEXAS OKLAHOMA TOLL FREE FIRST INCOMING MINUTE FREE VOICE MAIL ALERT CALLER ID BUILT IN PAGING DETAILED BILLING CONFERENCE CALLING CALL WAITING CALL HOLD Bring in This Coupon FREE ACCESSORIES Hands Free Kit value Car Charger value v Leather Case value y Total savings Plus FREE Phone activation Expires S I 99800 Anytime Minutes Family Plan 1000 Minutes for Weekend Minutes include FREE Nationwide Long Distance EVERYTHING PLUS activate phone at time of pruchase approved credit Some restrictions apply See store 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