New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - April 3, 2005, New Braunfels, Texas
Sunday, April 3, 2005 — Herald-Zeitung — Page 7A
Corps agrees to work for permanent water deviation
By Ron Maloney
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials said Wednesday they would seek to make permanent a handshake agreement with local officials creating a one-foot pool of water to support summer tubing.
The word came at an informational meeting at the New Braunfels Civic Center about summer recreation that included Chamber of Commerce, river outfitters, city, county, Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority and Corps of Engineers officials.
The water, called a “recreation” or “seasonal deviation” from the Corps’ operating plans for the dam and reservoir, means during years that weather and flood control conditions permitted, the water level in Canyon Lake would be increased from 909 feet above mean sea level to 910.
A deal was negotiated in the 1990s to try the idea on a year-by-year basis after local officials initially sought a two-foot deviation.
County, GB RA and Corps officials have decided each spring under the informal agreement whether to raise the lake level. County Judge Danny Scheel approached 17 downstream county judges, seeking their permission to try the deviation —as long as water levels downstream were not adversely affected.
Releasing water from Canyon Dam is a key to river flows in Gonzales and Victoria, which restrict lake releases to prevent possible downstream flooding.
The extra foot of water would be used during the hot dry part of the summer to ensure adequate river flows for tubing in the lower Guadalupe River.
Paul Rich, owner of Mountain Breeze, representing an association of outfitters, told GBRA and Corps of Engineers officials that a river flow in summer of about 400 cubic
feet-per-second could support tourism.
“If you could have it at 600 cfs that would be perfect,” Rich said. “But 400 cfs would be good.”
Paul Rodman, chief of the reservoir control division of the Fort Worth District, Corps of Engineers, said a study delayed by state and federal lawsuits could now proceed that would gauge the impacts of the added lake level.
“We’re getting a study ready on a pennanent seasonal pool with a real emphasis on environmental impacts," Rodman said.
Once the study is complete, a recommendation would go up the chain of command to Washington, D.C., that would allow the Corps to make a change in its operations, Rodman said.
Previously, Corps officials have told local government that the change could require an Act of Congress, but Rodman said he thought it could be handled within the Corps.
“That’s what we’re hoping,” Rodman said. “We’re not sure how headquarters will rule. If they call this a reallocation and they get involved, the process is longer and the costs go up. Hopefully, there could be a permanent pool in place by next year, but that’s probably pretty optimistic.”
Council to take closer look at civic center plan Monday
By Scott Mahon
The New Braunfels City Council agreed last week to revive plans for expanding the civic center. Monday, City Manager Chuck Pinto will show tile council a plan to do just that.
The idea of expanding the civic center has been debated since 1998, and over the years, suggestions of moving tile civic center to the Comal River, the Wurstfest facility and even to the old H-E-B building have come and gone.
A1999 study completed by a Houston consulting firm proposed a new civic center on Gruene Road.
“In 2000, voters rejected a plan to build a convention center in Gruene,” said Michael Meek, Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce president. “Then in 2002, voters approved using hotel occupancy tax money to either renovate or expand the existing civic center, and in 2003 voters approved using HOT tax money to build a new facility downtown.”
But in 2003, council^discussed a number of proposals, including expanding the existing civic center, building a new $14 million civic center on the Comal River or building a new facility on South Casten Avenue.
At the time, council agreed that the city should expand the existing facility.
AT A GLANCE
■ What: New Braunfels City Council workshop
■ When: 6 p.m. Monday
■ Where: Municipal Building, 424 S. Casten Ave.
In early 2004, council approved a $60,000 contract with Conventions, Sports & Leisure to study the feasibility of a new convention center.
The study completed by CSL suggested that an anchor hotel
would be critical for a downtown convention center.
Pinto said HOT tax funds could be used to fund either the expansion of the civic center or a new convention center.
Pinto said Friday that about $1.3 million had accumulated from HOT tax revenues for the civic center, but that other sources might be available, including 4B funds and chamber funds.
“Monday, I plan to show
council how this could work financially and go over the RVK designs we looked at in 2003,” he said. “The design I intend to show council estimated a cost of about $9 mi llion for expanding the civic center, but of course that number would have to be updated.”
District 4 Councilwoman Valerie Hull spearheaded the idea of reviving plans for expanding the civic center last week.
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