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

May 7th, 2009
City could seek redesign in rebuilding

Mike Rhoades, president of the San Marcos chapter of the Lions Club, addresses the San Marcos City Council Tuesday night. Photo by Bill Peterson.


While San Marcos officials investigate a fire that destroyed the Lions Club’s inner tube supply as arson, they’re also starting to think of ways they can redesign the City Park facility as they rebuild it.

On a temporary basis, San Marcos Lions chapter president Mike Rhoades said the inner tube rental operation will work out of two 40-foot storage containers when it resumes business as early as May 16. One of the trailers would be insulated for office use.

San Marcos parks director Rodney Cobb said the Lions and the city face “a few obstacles” to re-opening. Cobb said the fire wiped out electric service to the park. However, Cobb added, new power should be up by the end of this week or the start of next.

San Mayor Mayor Susan Narvaiz asked Rhoades if there was anything at all the Lions Club needs from the city to get back to tube renting. Rhoades said the Lions need little more than the city’s blessing.

“The support and outpouring we’ve received from the city and the citizens of San Marcos have been unbelievable,” Rhoades said. ” … All we’re looking for is the ‘OK’ to go ahead. We’re not asking for any money or anything else.”

Councilmember Kim Porterfield brought up the possibility that a permanent reconstruction could lead to a reshaping of City Park area from where the Lions club rents out tubes. The city has $400,000 in capital improvement money set aside for City Park.

Furthermore, said City Manager Rick Menchaca, the city will receive an insurance settlement for the building. Menchaca said outside Tuesday night’s city council meeting that the those two sources combined could give the city some flexibility in redesigning.

In addition to all that, the state legislature is working on legislation that could give cities access to hotel tax money for river tourism.

The Lions began renting inner tubes for riding the San Marcos River currents during the 1970s. At first, the Lions rented 20-40 tubes per day from a cattle truck with a portable air compressor located behind Joe’s Crab Shack. At the end of each day, the tubes were stored in a club member’s garage.

The concession has now grown to 800-850 tubes per day, making the program the local Lions’ largest fundraising enterprise. Proceeds enable the Lions to donate to more than 100 charities in the area. The Lions rent out the tubes under a franchise agreement with the city.

An early morning blaze on April 27 destroyed the Lions Club tube rental building located in San Marcos City Park.

The fire started between 5:00-5:30 a.m., causing significant damage to the roof of the cinder block building and destroying the contents of the Lions Club tube rental, which operates out of the west side of the building.

Rhoades said the club had recently received a $15,000 shipment of special order tubes from China that were “completely destroyed.”

“We self-insure ourselves,” Rhoades said. “So it’s a complete loss.”

Fire fighting efforts were hampered by the lack of water supply and fire hydrants at the park, according to San Marcos Fire Marshall Ken Bell. He said South Hays County Fire Department was called for mutual aid to provide water tender trucks to the four San Marcos fire station trucks already present.

The Lion’s Club tube rental concession area, restrooms and kitchen sector were destroyed.

One firefighter was injured when he was struck by a metal fragment while cutting through a metal door during the salvage and overhaul operation after the fire.

In a special meeting the night of the fire, the Lions Club decided to order $15,000 worth of inner tubes in an attempt to revive the concession quickly.

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0 thoughts on “City could seek redesign in rebuilding

  1. The City’s Parks Department needs to take over the Tube Rental and use all proceeds to maintain and police the river. Funds raised off of public parkland and our river should go to parks.
    Now is a perfect opportunity to start over and do this right.

  2. That would unfortunately cripple the Lion’s Club finances; they are already having to rebuy and rebuild, having the city try to take over “the local Lions’ largest fundraising enterprise” is probobly not the best idea.

  3. I would guess that having the City take over the tube rentals would cost in labor and benefits for city workers more than would be made from the concession. The Lion’s Club volunteers are to be commended for their fine record of community service and commitment to showcasing the San Marcos River.

  4. Thanks Scott for pointing out the obvious, which seems to have escaped the muddled thinking of North! Just another reason why she finished dead last in the school district race. Can you imagine how messed up our schools might have been as we see this example of her decision making?
    Yes, the Lion’s Club does an outstanding job on this and the charities they support!!

  5. I agree with Scott. If the City ran the concession, they just might wind up in the red. Chris – if you are thinking of running for City Council – this is not the best way to garner votes. The Lions Club runs a great facility and completely with volunteers. All of the money earned goes to charities in the San Marcos area. How would you suggest these charities be funded if you take away this source of funds from them? Or perhaps you just don’t care what happens to them.

    I understand your concern for parks, but sometimes you need to have more than one agenda on your plate. Maybe you ought to consider joining the Lions Club and learn more about what they do.

  6. As much as I respect Chris’s dedication to our community I do not agree with her on this . It was the Lions Club that founded this business and put the efforts into making it what it is today. Taking the business away would be the sort of thing they do in Cuba or Venezuela. If the parks department does not have sufficient resources to do their job then it is the city councils responsibility to fix that. I dont want to wait in line all day long just to have some bearded old geezer with a cigar tell me there are no tubes available today because of the cruel genocidal blockade

  7. Just trying to get your attention.
    Anyone know how much the Lion’s Club makes off our river every year? (it’s about $85,000 net)
    Or how much they pay to “lease” the facility? ($1 a year)
    How much of their gross income they give back to the River and Parks? (average $5,000)
    Also, the people working the concession are not volunteers, they are paid employees. It’s a business that could be bid out by the City to generate income.

    Of course the Lion’s Club should be commended for community service. And they do ‘showcase’ our most precious natural resource and tourist attraction.
    And to the Lions’ credit, they have done more in the way of parks funding in the last few years- when I was on the Parks Board they gave nothing to PARD.

    But the other side of that is this: the river parks are trashed and trampled by the 800 tubers that rent from the Lions’ each day. This concession, by it’s very nature, should help mitigate the damage done. We have one full-time park ranger for over 2000 acres of parkland in San Marcos.

    Anyway, my suggesstion is extreme and not at all viable. Just wanted to get the conversation going.
    There is a compromise out there, like maybe charging a real rent to use the facility that could pay for a new park ranger or some erosion control for the river banks. The issue will be coming back to the voters in a year or two, so we’ll have a chance to negotiate the deal.

  8. Thanks for the advice as always, Lila. I have more than one agenda, and tried to do something about one of them just recently- our schools and the closed system that runs them.

    I tried the whole political candidate thing. Seems you can’t tell the truth or say anything meaningful while running for office because you don’t want to “make anyone mad”.
    (EX: Chris- under no circumstances are you to talk about the 80 girls (yes, 80.) a year in this district having babies or the fact the District encourages it and subsidizes it…)

    I learned so much, more on that later…

  9. I can not agree with you on this one Chris. And I don’t like your tone of blaming the Lions Club for the trash in the river, albeit an implicit blame merely because they are renting tubes. Do you really believe that if the Lions were not renting tubes, the people would go away and so would the trash?

    I don’t think I like your approach to problem solving – i.e. the problem is the nail, and you’re the hammer. It might work well enough in your own household, but please don’t force it on the rest of us.

  10. Chris, I have notice on this thread and others that when you are taken to task on anyone one issue and are exposed as a non critical thinker, you almost always come back and state that you did not really support that particular issue but were just trying to get others attention. As a retired school teacher and Psychology major, I know why you came in dead last this last election.

  11. Actually, I find it downright hilarious that Ethel considers herself a “critical thinker”. And downright scary if she was really a teacher.

  12. Karla, you remind me of some of the remedial students I knew that were finally “socially” passed on to the next grades.

  13. Ethel, your posts quite aptly reflect your “critical thinking” skills. Maybe if you open your mouth a little bit wider you could fit the other foot in there too.

  14. Karla, I fear that if I opened my mouth wider, I might find a baker’s dozen of you, no thanks!

  15. Karla, would it not be easier to ignore my posts? You obviously have an addiction, I’m just not sure to what.

  16. Chris, I did a little research on the Lyon’s Club donations to approximately 100 charities and all but 10 are lame, no number breakdown. The Lyon’s Club is getting a free ride at taxpayer expense. Does any person associated with the club receive monetary or in-kind compensation? Perhaps the city should reclaim that minutia of an edifice, they pay for almost all expenses for the charitable Lyon’s Club at present anyway.

  17. Councilwoman Porterfield, is it not enough that we only charge a dollar a year and pay for the insurance on the property for the Lyon’s Club and now you want to GIVE them $400,000, for what? Better the city donate $400,000 to those ten viable charities than have the Lyon’s Club donate to all the “needy” groups, like, the Texas State baseball team?! P-L-E-A-S-E!

  18. Fire fighting efforts were hampered by the lack of water supply and fire hydrants at the park, according to San Marcos Fire Marshall Ken Bell. He said South Hays County Fire Department was called for mutual aid to provide water tender trucks to the four San Marcos fire station trucks already present.

    Perhaps Ms. Porterfield, we should invest in WATER SUPPLY & FIRE HYDRANTS!

    I know what the happy go lucky Lions Club is contributing…In a special meeting the night of the fire, the Lions Club decided to order $15,000 worth of inner tubes in an attempt to revive the concession quickly.

  19. By the way Ed, I resent being slandered as an Italian or Sicilian, or whatever! Both my parents were Jewish and I thank you to respect their memory. FYI, no animosity against any other races, we all live according to a higher power.

  20. Noun
    attention whore (plural attention whores)

    (Internet, slang) Someone who craves attention and is not above soliciting it via deliberately meaningless or provocative tactics.

    drama queen

    See also

    Retrieved from “”

  21. Fellow Threaders, see how easy it is to alter the milieu? If no one responds to my discourse (assuming you are on target, “so to speak,” with your spins) I will simply vanish into thin cyber air.

  22. Karla, I’m just thankful to the powers that be, that no one was living (homeless or not) in the Lions Clubhouse at the time of the misfortune due to the apparent lack of water supply and fire hydrants and city government’s lack of civil service responsibility.

  23. Yeah ethel I will “respect their memory” as much as I respect you. Well there went that one! Nice try .

  24. Not my metaphor, just a common internet term used to describe the behavior that you have been exhibiting. And gender has absolutely nothing to do with it.

  25. Chris, I feel a sense of remorse for doubting your initial post. I ask others, what’s wrong with a hammer, the nail will not drive itself and do not confuse the “HAMMER” with the “CARPENTER,” sound vaguely familiar?

  26. Ms. Burman, you obviously do not know what you are talking about when you state that the organizations that benefit from the San Marcos Lions Club are “lame.” The Lonestar Eye Bank gives people the gift of sight. And the Lions Leader Dogs trains and makes available to people, who otherwise would not be able to afford them, seeing eye dogs (as well as dogs for other medical purposes). The Texas Lions Camp gives kids a summer camp experience who, because of medical conditions such as blindness, diabetes, or other medical conditions, can not attend regular summer camps. And they get to attend the Lions Camp for free. The Texas Lions Clubs fund it 100%. The Mobile Health Screening Unit – once again, at no charge – allows people the opportunity to know if they have a possible serious illness such as diabetes. They also give to the Green Belt Alliance, the Salvation Army, and the to the Food Bank.

    I just don’t see anything “lame” in any of these organizations.

    And as for the Lions being compensated for their work? I can assure you – they are not. That is NOT why they do it.

    I get really tired of people who complain about those who work hard to contribute something to their communities. It does a body good to volunteer for groups like the Lions Club or Meals on Wheels. You really ought to try it.

    But I understand if you don’t have the time. Sometimes we barely get through the day with work and attention to our families. But you really shouldn’t take out your anger and frustrations on the people who DO find the time to give back to their communities. It just ain’t right.

    Go bully some politician instead. Or better yet, just don’t say anything at all.

  27. Ms. Knight, I agree with you in that there are 10 SOLID charities that we should not only applaud but support the Lions Club with. Let’s see their “books” and go from there.

  28. Please, someone take Ethel’s thesaurus away. She’s abusing it & the pretentiousness is making my eyes bleed.

  29. Ms. Knight, I just re-read your post and slowed down enough to appreciate your passion for God’s work and I thank you for your commitment.

  30. Many pardons for my verbosity, I taught myself to read at the age of 18 months just so I could say to the grownups, stop that goo gaga stuff and lets entertain Shakespeare (unbeknownst to me at that particular epiphany that his works would fashion such a poetic notion in my own life).

  31. The city rec hall was not used exclusively for the Lion’s Club tube rental business. They used about 25% of the building’s footprint. The rest of the building had restrooms and a meeting room that was used several times a year by the Friends of the San Marcos Public Library for their used book sales and by members of the community for family reunions, birthday parties, etc. Since it will have to be rebuilt, how can the city make it better and more usable?

    Here are a few ideas to start the discussion:
    – Improve the restroom facilities. The new facility should have showers and changing areas in addition to toilets. Then out of town visitors could shower and change into dry clothes and stay a little longer and spend more of their money by dining out in a nice restaurant or stopping at the outlet mall.

    – Design the rec hall for use by different sized groups with both small and large rooms.

    – Add a park ranger/EMS station.

    – Add some coin operated lockers for tubers and other park users to use.

    – Add a paddleboat rental.

    – Add recycling facilities to collect aluminum cans and plastic bottles.

  32. ethel… you are so badly mistaken… I am not former councilman ED MIHALKANIN. Trust me, im am much more ruthless than he could ever be . BRING IT !!

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