New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - September 9, 1999, New Braunfels, Texas
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Businesses enjoying record sales, but some are calling for revival
By Peri Stone-Palmquist Staff Writer
Despite record sales for some downtown businesses, most storeowners agree more needs to be done to revive historic downtown New Braunfels.
“We haven’t even tapped our potential,” said Mike Calahan, owner of Calahan’s Pub & Deli on San Antonio Street.
Calahan and Henne Hardware owner Paul Martinka raised concerns about New Braunfels’ commitment to downtown businesses during a recent city council meeting. They argued the city needed to improve the appearance of downtown to enhance its marketability-
Other downtown business owners agree the city needs a plan to make downtown more appealing to shoppers and tourists.
Like plenty of other downtown entrepreneurs, Calahan has a long list of suggestions.
But he also points out the positives: ample parking space, a safe environment, several unique shops and occasional special events.
“We’re heading in the right direction,” Calahan said.
But there’s more to do.
Downtown needs some kind of entertainment venue, perhaps in the now-vacant Braun-tex Theatre on San Antonio Street, Calahan said.
“We need more to do downtown,” he said.
“To get the people here, we’ve got to give them something to do. Have live music on the Main Plaza. Have a motorcycle rally, a magic show, a 5K run. It has to be done frequently, so it becomes habit.”
And bringing a mix of retail businesses to the heart of the city would help, business owners said.
Martinka said, “We need more retail businesses down here. There’s only 30 out of 107. But retail business is what brings shoppers here.”
Specialty shops such as Tobacco Haus or Eclectic Gourmet, both on San Antonio Street, also attract business, he said.
Lynn Forres, owner of Huisache Grill, suggested the city look into attracting a national chain, such as L.L. Bean, to draw crowds.
But the city’s Main Street director Lynn
................................................Vol. 148, No. 210 16 pages in I section September 9, 1999 HTV TT a 7 Serving Comal County since 1852 50 cents
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Developers say proposed drainage fees are too highup downtown
Top left: Lisa Repka, owner of Tobacco Haus, 180 W. San Antonio St., checks her cigar stock for clientele, which comes from as far away as Houston and Dallas. Top right: New Braunfels Coffee, 489 Main Plaza, offers a homey atmosphere with local artists’ work and specialty merchandise to attract both locals and tourists. Above: Summer Hendon of New Braunfels Coffee prepares the house blend for a customer.
Fountain said that was an unlikely option.
“They’re not going to come,” Fountain said. “We don’t have the foot traffic. And (national chains) travel in herds. They won’t jump out there by themselves.”
Recruiting new businesses isn’t necessarily a focus for the Main Street board anyway, Fountain said.
“Time and money is better spent cultivating businesses we already have,” she said. “They might expand.”
Martinka said he wanted more attention paid to the physical appearance of downtown.
Antique lighting needed to be installed; weeds sprouting through cracks in the sidewalk should be removed, he said.
“The Main Street Department or the city needs to do more about capital improvements,” he said. “Do a block a year.”
The problem is money, according to city officials.
‘There’s no money in the city budget for downtown improvements,” Fountain said.
City manager Mike Shantis said no requests for downtown capital improvements were
made during budget talks.
“It’s been done by donations in the past,” he said.
City council did agree several years ago to put up $120,000 from the general fund to help repair downtown sidewalks, Shands said.
And $60,000 from Community Development Block Grants also helped finance the sidewalks.
Storeowners normally are responsible for maintaining the sidewalks in front of their property, Shands said, but downtown officials “made a good argument” for the new sidewalks.
But the city should be careful not to designate a disproportionately large amount of money to any small area of town, Shands said.
Downtown business owners and Fountain argue that downtown is not just any small area of town.
“A downtown’s history is the only thing that distinguishes it from any other city,” Fountain said. “It is the defining attribute of a towm.”
Money is needed to make any downtown
Council prepares for bond issue input
From staff reports
New Braunfels residents interested in learning what city council might consider for future bond issues should attend Saturday’s 9 a.m. workshop.
The workshop will take place in council’s chambers at the city’s municipal building, 424 S. Casten Ave.
Council will discuss possible items
to be submitted to voters at a bond election and consider a date for such an election.
“It’s a starting point,” Mayor Stoney Williams said, “so council knows what all is out there.” Williams said council would listen to proposals from citizens and discuss proposals submitted from various city departments.
Council does not plan on prioritizing items during the workshop.
By Peri Stone-Palmquist
New’ Braunfels will run off developers if drainage fees are set too high, several citizens warned the Drainage Advisory Committee on Wednesday.
“It can’t all be dumped on the developer,” Perry Wingfield of Wingfield Construction said. “Let’s not run everyone off.”
Wingfield was one of 15 residents present at the meeting.
Committee chairman Hal Herbelin said they wanted fees to be fair.
“Our desire is to spread this evenly over all property owners,” he said.
The six-member committee has not accepted any proposed fees, but is continuing to review' an ordinance suggesting a possible fee structure to raise money for maintenance and construction of drainage facilities.
City council will have the final say on any fee structure; the committee makes its recommendations to council.
If the committee and council adopt the ordinance as is, developers would be responsible for funding any drainage system improvements on-site and off-site adjacent to the development that the city deems necessary.
Developers aiso would have to pay a one-tune fee per lot — $200 for residential lots and parcels of land and $1,000 for all other lots and parcels of land including commercial, industrial and retail uses.
The proposed ordinance also includes $10 monthly drainage fees for commercial, industrial and retail uses ofSee DRAINAGE FEES/5
Houston fights own battle for Texas education
By Erin Magruoer
Sam Houston IV is blazing new trails for Texas Independence — only instead of fighting Santa Anna like his great-grandfather, he is waging a war for the state s control over education.
As a guest speaker at the New Braunfels Rotary' Club meeting on Wednesday, Houston said he hoped to see less national involvement in the Texas education system.
Houston’s famous relative is former Republic of Texas president Sam Houston, w ho led troops to defeat the Mexican Army at the battle of San Jacinto rn the Texas Revolution.
Houston said he thought one of the biggest problems with education in Texas was attracting good quality teachers.
“We pay a basketball player $2 million to run down a court and put a little ball in a hole,” he said. “And we don’t pay our teachers in Texas enough to educate our children.
“All of the former Texas leaders have emphasized education, and the people of Texas need to take a stand and make a difference. Right now, Washington is running it.”
Central kitchen, warehouse among NBISD bond proposals
By Heather Tooo
New Braunfels Independent School District patrons are being asked to fund a $2 million construction project for a new central kitchen and maintenance warehouse.
The new facility is just one of many proposed projects in a $75 million bond package designed to prepare the district for steady
enrollment growth and upgrade outdated buildings.
NBISD voters will decide Oct. 2 whether to go forw ard w ith the plan to renovate and upgrade all 15 of the district's campuses and auxiliary facilities, some of which date back to the early 1900s.
Early voting begins Wednesday at the Education Center, 430 West Mill St. Early voting runs
Part of a Series
On Friday, read how the bond issue will affect your I taxes.
until Sept. 28. Voting hours are 8 a m. to 5 p.m.See BOND/5