“I’m not here to address all of your concerns today, but instead as more of a fact gathering situation,” said City Manager Rick Menchaca. City Council was scheduled to provide direction to staff regarding the extension of hours for on-premise consumption of alcohol. All council members had specific questions and concerns about the implementation of the passed referendum, but chief among them was security and protection.”Public safety is number one to successful implementation of extended bar hours,” said Councilman John Thomaides. He added that improving infrastructure would also be necessary. “We want everyone to have fun, but we want everyone to be safe,” he said. Among infrastructure improvements, Thomaides suggested new lighting at intersections in the downtown, as well the amelioration of uneven pavement.
Mayor Susan Narvaiz suggested moving forward with the development of a task-force assigned to identify any concerns towards a successful and drawn-out implementation process. “I like that Idea,” said Councilman Chris Jones. “We’re not just going to say ‘Aye’ to this ordinance – we need a plan.”
Initially Narvaiz suggested Jones and Councilman Gaylord Bose to serve on the task-force but not everybody agreed. “I would rather not sit on the task-force,” said Bose. “That would say I give my blessing to this ordinance, and that is not the case.” Bose said he would not support anything that went against his moral responsibility. “I’m a substance abuse counselor for 25 years, and I’ve seen the other side of this,” he said. Thomaides replaced Bose to serve on the task-force and said “there’s a lot of work to be done.”
“There’s an expectation that we move forward in a timely point to address these issues,” said Thomaides.
Narvaiz asked that the task-force furnish a status report in approximately 30 days, providing City Council with an update on new developments and concerns.
Menchaca said he envisioned a task-force comprised of restaurant and bar owners in and out of the downtown, San Marcos Police, Texas State Police, Medical personnel, representatives of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the Council’s student liaison Chris Covo, and Council members Jones and Thomaides, among others. He added that both the Austin and San Antonio Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) have offered support with this initiative.
Narvaiz said there currently is not an exact date as to when the extension will go into effect, but forecasted an implementation in the summer of 2009. Narvaiz said she is in support of this proposal after the voters passed the non-binding referendum on the November 4 ballot, with 71.22 percent of the vote.
“Our city is growing, and growing up,” said Narvaiz.
Currently, hours for on-premise alcohol consumption are over at midnight every night in San Marcos, with the exception of Saturday, remaining open until 1 a.m.
by Andy Sevilla
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