San Marcos Mayor Susan Narvaiz addresses the Downtown Association. Photo by Sean Wardwell.
By SEAN WARDWELL
The San Marcos Downtown Association heard from San Marcos Mayor Susan Narvaiz Wednesday night as the mayor highlighted the various incentives already given to downtown. Her comments came in the wake of several complaints by association members over the city’s handling of various Springtown Center redevelopment proposals.
Narvaiz gave an update on downtown, which was originally presented at Tuesday’s San Marcos City Council meeting. In it, she pointed out a total investment of more than $11 million during the last 15 years, including Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) expenditures, re-modeling of the LBJ Museum, sidewalks around the courthouse square, downtown water systems improvements, the establishment of a police sub station and the continued presence of emergency services.
Among the figures given were $7.1 million for the Main Street Program since 1986, and nearly $1.5 million in incentives to downtown businesses for redevelopment in the past three to five years. Of the the latter figure, $175,000 were cash incentives, while $1.3 million were in tax abatements and fee waivers.
Narvaiz then turned her remarks to the controversial Springtown incentives, explaining her goals with the project.
“The ultimate goal, at least for me, was increased revenue,” Narvaiz said. “Anything that increases sales tax money goes into the general fund, and what happens is then everyone in the city says ‘oh, we have more money.’ So, it automatically gets appropriated into departments. It’s just a natural thing.”
Continued Narvaiz, “What we were trying to do, was at the increased level of revenue that could have been received at that particular, potential project, to commit the increased revenues to fund the downtown master plan.”
After giving her presentation, Narvaiz did not take questions, choosing instead to converse individually with association members during a break.
After the mayor left, members discussed the problem of downtown parking. The city is proposing a shuttle service from the various parking sites downtown, including 75 available spaces at Sanctuary Lofts, the parking lot of Jack Brown Cleaners on Edward Gary Street and the parking lot across from the San Marcos Post Office. The spaces at Sanctuary Lofts are part of a six-month trial program.
There was a lack of enthusiasm about using the spaces at Sanctuary Lofts. Association members cited poor ingress and egress, bad lighting, employee safety and distance from the square. Many preferred using the Hays County Justice Center parking lot, instead.
The association plans to send a survey to each of its members asking specifically about employee parking. Several business owners expressed frustration at the parking limits on the courthouse square, after seeing their employees either get tickets for violating the two-hour time limit or having to continually move their vehicles. Allen Shy, who owns three downtown businesses, said he has 45 employees at his various establishments who struggle to find convenient parking.
The association also heard from a representative of the San Marcos Police Department (SMPD) who presented an update on the effects of 2 a.m. bar closings. SMPD has seen an increase in public intoxication arrests since bar hours extended, and is planning on working with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) to increase enforcement when Texas State begins its fall semester. Specifically, SMPD and TABC plan to conduct more checks for identification checks and in-bar intoxication.