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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - February 18, 2003, New Braunfels, Texas Page 8A— Herald-Zeitung — Tuesday, February' 18, 2003 BEST ava&ale copy *TRENDY/From 1A "all this in a project he calls The Landmark — the former Lower Colorado River Authority power plant on Lan-da Street. • He and his partners, who include McQueeney resident Jim Hardy, are prepared to drop $20 million or more into the project — which comes on top of the $12 million the LORA spent dismantling the plant and cleaning up the property. Peel is a developer renowned for his respect for the environment — and for working with environmentalists on his projects. “My last deal was done with the Nature Conservancy,’’ Peel said this past Friday. “We’re used to having people looking over our shoulder. New Braunfels isn’t going to have any trouble with us.” - He is excited about the LCRA project. . “I’ll be coming down here [New Braunfels] at least once a week until this project is finished,” he said. That will be sometime in 2005, he believes. . “How can you not be excited by this? How can you not be impressed with it?” Peel asked. From the outside, the LCRA building will remain the landmark it has always been since it was built in the 1920s. Inside, it will retain much of the ironwork that hearkens back to its heritage, when it was the largest power plant west of the Mississippi River. Now, Peel is working to get the LCRA building listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which will qualify the project for a 20 percent tax credit — not insignificant on a $20 million project. “Right now, we’re right at IOO units in here. We’re pretty much governed by the windows,” Peel said. The LCRA building’s leaky old paned windows will be replaced by high tech, coated, low energy transfer glass that, from the outside, will look just as the windows do now, Peel said. He cannot cut new window openings and retain a historic designation. He will take full advantage of the windows in the design of his lofts. “I like to have a living room with a view,” Peel said. Even the smokestacks on top of the building will stay, although they will not be used. At the same time as Peel pursues the historic designation, he will be wending his way through the local permitting process. Already, he has appeared with drawings before service clubs and organizations, mak ing sure local folks know his vision and intention for the LCRA project. THE LOCAL PARTNER The LCRA building is not Hardy’s first project with Peel. “Larry’s done every kind of housing development you can do,” Hardy said. “His first words when he saw this one were, ‘I know I told you I wanted a challenge, but Peel has taken on other challenges, Hardy said, and triumphed. Peel has developed other housing in environmentally sensitive areas, including the Barton Creek greenbelt in West Austin. The LCRA plant is one of three projects his company has in its business plan for the next three years. The other two are a residential development in West Austin and one along the South Fork of the San Gabriel River in Georgetown. “The LCRA building is an important structure in the history of New Braunfels,” Hardy said. “This is going to be a neat deal. Larry’s the only man I know who could do it. It’ll take a lot of sensitivity, creativity and patience.” It is too early to say what the units would lease for, Hardy said. “Once he has set the floor plates, you can calculate square footage. Larry’s still moving them up and down to match them with the windows. The units will be relatively large. They will be for people who had big homes, and are retiring with big furniture,” Hardy said. “We’re not at the costing stage yet, but it’ll certainly be the upper end of the market,” Hardy said. A short distance away, Peel was looking at spaces, examining one detail and another. “We’re certainly going to include a museum of the history of this building in this project,” Peel said in one spot atop the old control room, looking out over the Comal River. “All of my projects include public space. Just look at this!” Peel exclaimed. “If you count over to the third set of windows, there’s 6,000 square feet here alone. This is a clubhouse. It can be used for weddings, gatherings, performances...” The list goes on and on, a rush of ideas. How many cubic feet was the space? “It’s bigger than the national debt,” Peel said. Hardy chuckled and shook his head. He’d heard it all before — and then some. “Larry gets new ideas every time he comes here,” he said. Council workshop takes look at river management DRUG TRIAL/From 1A By Ron Maloney Staff Writer City Council will look at technology and review its river management plan at a workshop session set for this evening. Council meets at 6 p.m. today in the council chambers at City Hall, 424 S. CasteU Ave. Mayor Adam Cork said council members would look at the city’s river management plan, which deals with law enforcement, refuse removal and other river recreation-related issues. “The river management plan is a three-year plan. We expect to have a review of items every year,” said Cork. New Braunfels appointed a group called the River Activities Committee to study river-related issues after the summer of 2000 when a draught drasticaUy reduced Guadalupe River flows and brought more tubers into the city to float the Comal River. District 6 Councilmember Ken Valentine is a former RAC member and chairman. He has recently recommended raising fees tubers pay to use the rivers within the city limits to pay for increased cleanup and law enforcement. Cork said council would carefully examine the plan in context of the city’s other needs. “We can expect to have some changes, but we have to be cognizant of the budget. We have already been told this is going to be a tight budgetary year. While we have to protect the river, we have to maintain the budget’s integrity for the entire city, not just the river,” Cork said. The New Braunfels Police Department is understaffed by several positions, Cork said, and money might not prove available to add any new slots at the police department. “One guy can only be on the river once. We can’t make him two people, no matter how much we pay him. Unless we have more officers available on the force, we’re going to have a tough time getting a lot more officers out there,” Cork said. “We’ve got to work our way through what their roles will be realizing this year well have two rivers to take care of. We haven’t added a bunch of police officers. “Fully staffed, I think we’re still lean for that kind of coverage. So you end up paying overtime, and really, I think you bum your officers out,” Cork said. “We have to make sure they’re doing real police work.” In terms of technology, Cork said he believes the city is generations behind the state of the art in the technology it uses to get its work done. “New Braunfels is really behind in technology. We have a long way to go,” Cork said. The city needs to look at ways it can provide its services more efficiently, the mayor said. “You can throw a lot of bodies at a job or you can do it with the proper technology,” Cork said. “I think smart technology is probably a good investment for the city. We’re in such a quick growth pattern for the population that the services we offer need to be up to date. Otherwise, we’re wasting money,”" Cork said. The city has computer equipment that is so old it is amazing, Cork said. “In our Planning Department, they have software they can’t run because the hardware is not up to date. When you look at that, we have a lot of requirements for service, we’re putting a lot of man hours into the job, but the tools aren’t up to date. Sometimes you spend a lot of money by not having the right tool and we need to take a look at that,” Cork said. “This is all thinking in terms of what is best for the city in the long term. Sometimes you have to spend short term money to realize long-term gain,” Cork said. ■ Unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon. Gomez has prior felony convictions, which means that if he is convicted as a repeat offender he faces a minimum of 25 years in prison. Rodolfo and Sandra Gomez have not yet been scheduled for trial. Of the six people taken into custody at the residence in the raid, Sanchez said under questioning by Assistant District Attorney Ed Springer that Rodolfo Gomez was the only one who had no needle marks. During four alleged drug buys at the Gomez home that stretched from Sept. ll, 2(X)1, to Dec. 12, 2001, Sanchez testified that he either searched the task force informant or his vehicle before and after the buys. He would also participate in the debriefing of the informant afterward to try to gather intelligence information about the residence and its occupants. He and another undercover officer would follow the mfor-mant to the residence, he said, to provide cover for a third detective, who rode with the informant, Sanchez testified under questioning by Springer. , He admitted under cross-examination by Garcia, though, that he had no direct knowledge of who had sold the drugs. He couldn’t see the Gomez home from where he was parked, Sanchez said. “We saw the informant walk toward the house. Our main concern was officer safety; was to watch the detective,” Sanchez said. Garcia questioned whether the officer could be considered an expert on signs of drug abuse or even on needle marks. Sanchez said he had taken courses on drug abuse as part of his training and continuing education and that people he had arrested in the past had educated him on the issues. “But as for as all these punctures or tracks you can’t tell that any of them, if they are tracks, occurred at (the CARETAKER/From 1A to San Antonio. It included four coal-powered boilers (later oil and gas), each 110 feet tall, that produced steam to run two Westinghouse turbines. Welty said the plant, originally the largest west of the Mississippi River, was designed to be doubled in size by building onto the back. That would have meant eight boilers, four smokestacks and four turbines, but it never happened. Inside, with the exposed ironwork, the building still seems massive. “There was a boiler in this space here, and it went all the way to the roof. There were three others just like it,” Welty said on a recent tour. “Be careful not to look up and don’t step on the little pieces of metal on the floor because they cover holes,” Welty said. . The plant, which has been gutted and stripped of all lead and asbestos, has not produced power since 1973. There are plenty of holes in the floors covered with boilerplate. If it is difficult now for someone to imagine the 12-story tall brick power plant as thing of beauty, it might not be, once developer Larry Peel gets done rehabbing it into loft apartments. Welty’s back, now, working at the plant while Peel prepares to convert it into upscale housing. “I came back to work for them just to help them take care of it,” Welty said.FLOOD CONTROL/From 1A Gomez home),” Garcia charged. ‘You can’t tell us whether they had anything to do with the allegations — that it had something to do with the allegations of this lawsuit, can you?” Garcia persisted. One of the other undercover officers testified that he had seen the informant go up to the Gomez house and purchase balloons containing small quantities of heroin from people he later learned were Arnaldo and Rodolfo Gomez. On Dec. 7, 2001, the officer said, he got a look at the man who sold the drugs, but he didn’t know him then. “At a later time did you learn the name of the person you saw?” Springer asked. “Yes sir,” the detective answered. “Who was that person?’ the attorney asked. “Arnaldo Gomez,” the detective answered. study requirements for the first new facility it hopes to build on property near Kruger Canyon in Solms. A $4.5 million federal grant has been earmarked for the project, and county officials have approached federal officials about additional funding for other projects. Officials have tried for more than a year to negotiate a purchase of the Solms property and will soon enter into condemnation proceedings against the international mining conglomerate that owns it. County Judge Danny Scheel said he wants the county to own that property for several reasons. First, if the county does nothing, it will become another limestone quarry. Second, it offers a unique opportunity to buffer growth and northward sprawl from San Antonio. “We’d like to preserve it as parkland or green space,” Scheel said Monday. Attention Diabetic Patients Medicare Pays For Ambulator* Biomechanical Footwear provides unsurpassed comfort and protection thanks to unique features such as removable Anti-Shox* “Gel” Orthotics and Bio-Rocker soles The imtngPiwidefot Home Health Equpmt« Tem    ‘Medicare    pays 80% of tile charges Professional Medical 608-9577    Methow)    pay    th*    rn'balance 386 A lands • New Braunfels, Texas ;