San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

September 29th, 2008
Bill Peterson’s Blog: Movin’ on

It had to happen sometime, I guess. I made the move.

It happened last week, when I changed residence from Leisurewoods, which is slightly northwest of the Buda city limits, to the middle of San Marcos. It didn’t take long to feel at home in San Marcos, which is a compact city with an easy mix of nature and urbanity. It’s good to live around college people again, it’s nice to not be chained to an automobile and, most closely to the point, it makes a big difference in the news business to be closer to the majority of the action.

I moved to Leisurewoods ten years ago because I was really moving to Austin and the best house for the money was in Leisurewoods. I was never really a Leisurewoods kind of guy, but I probably needed the experience. I’m a city rat, through and through, and ten years in Leisurewoods didn’t change that. If I can’t have the city, I’ll take the country. Leisurewoods ten years ago gave me the city within a short drive and the country at my house.

Through covering high school sports in the small Hays High School community as it existed for most of this time, I got to know contemporaries who found opportunities and made choices that have passed me by – marriage, kids, etc. By the time I showed up here, I was old enough that the parents of high school athletes were my age.

I have to say that I’ve been highly impressed by almost all of these people, mostly because they’re such dedicated parents, and I could go on forever naming families in Buda and Kyle who have the right idea and do the truly important work of making sure the people they bring into this world are good people.

Here’s a good example of what Hays kids are like. I was emptying my house into the moving van one day a couple weeks ago when a friend who was going to help with the heavy lifting called and said his car wouldn’t start. I’d have been upset with the guy, except I saw his car not start enough times to know he was telling the truth. So, there I was, sitting in my house full of heavy furniture with no one to help me move and, by the way, a pretty tight deadline for getting it done.

About 30 minutes later, out of nowhere, up to my door comes Brandon Maldonado. I owed Brandon a couple bucks for some yard work, he was on his way to the Hays football team meal at the Golden Corral, and, knowing I’d sold my house, he asked if I had any of the money I owed him. As it happened, the money hadn’t cleared, so, I told him, I didn’t have the money, but I did have a bunch of heavy furniture and needed help moving it.

Brandon was due at the dinner in about an hour. But he didn’t hesitate to help. Not only that, but it happened his friend, Zach Green, was in the car. Those two kids loaded up a couch, a love seat, a recliner, an antique Victrola, a secretary desk, four chests of drawers and two heavy end table pieces in about ten minutes.

Problem solved. The kids saved the day.

The fun part for me was bragging up Zach Green, to his dad, Terry Green, at the Hays football game that Friday night. If I’d seen Brandon’s dad, Rudy Maldonado, I’d have done the same with him, too.

As much as I enjoyed living in Leisurewoods, times change. The dusty old Austin we all used to love is being Californicated, and that shadow looms over Buda, where the old country town of Dorsett’s 221 Truck Stop, Texas Hatters, unlit nights and hand-painted signs that said “We Breed Arabian Horses” is giving way to sprawl. I’ve inveighed against sprawl, here and elsewhere in the Hays County media, arguing that we need to push development to human proportions that will reduce our reliance on the automobile. But I didn’t feel those arguments gaining traction and I’m not getting younger any time soon.

Furthermore, I launched the Mercury with Brad Rollins in April and, as it happens, San Marcos already is built the way I’d like to see a town built. So, I made the move for better business and a less motorized life. And, there’s no doubt about it, this town has problems, but it’s terrific.

On my first full day in San Marcos, I woke up, went to City Hall to start a utility account, drove to a cell phone store to replace my broken unit, went to the post office, then to the coffee shop for a little writing, then to Bobcat Stadium for interviews with football people, dropped down to the H-E-B for a couple items, went home for a second, took my sister to dinner, dropped her back off, went back to the coffee house for more writing, then went home. I drove to every one of those locations and, at the end of the day, I hadn’t put ten miles on the car.

San Marcos could use a bunch more sidewalks, but it’s otherwise completely walkable. So long as I can put one foot in front of the other, I’m within a 15-minute walk of parks, banks, restaurants, nightclubs, a university, a public library, a city activity center and numerous other amenities.

This is more like the life that I’m used to living. And I’m really glad to have it back.

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2 thoughts on “Bill Peterson’s Blog: Movin’ on

  1. I don’t like living near a “downtown”, but it sure makes more financial and environmental sense than the way most of us (including myself) live today – in the suburban sprawls.

  2. Welcome.

    Downtown San Marcos is very walkable. Unfortunately, if you don’t live within walking distance, it is very difficult to spend a day walking around downtown and touring the campus and that’s a shame.

    1-hour parking in front of the movie theater? 2-hour parking and tow away threats just about everywhere else? Not quite the same experience as the one I have when I take a day trip to Wimberley, Gruene, Fredericksburg, etc.

    Not always great for people who want to open a business downtown, either; particularly the kinds of businesses that keep college students here after graduation and add to the population walking around (spending money) on their lunch breaks, or before and after work.

    Of course, I’ve been here for almost 20 years and I commute 36,000 miles a year, so I’d have to agree that the town has a strong appeal, or I would have moved closer to the jobs long ago.

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