New Council of Neighborhood Associations President Amy Kirwin. Photo by Andy Sevilla.
By ANDY SEVILLA
The San Marcos Council of Neighborhood Associations (CONA) is under new leadership that is touting “change” for an organization that once was a major player in city politics.
Amy Kirwin was elected unopposed to a one-year term, after previously serving for a combined four years as president of CONA during a five-year span earlier in this decade.
“I really enjoyed it when I was president before,” Kirwin said. “I really have a strong faith in what the neighborhoods and the community can be, and enhancing our quality of life.”
Kirwin said she has been active in San Marcos for more than 10 years, volunteering on several of the city’s boards and commissions, serving on the Hays County parks bond advisory board and Envision Central Texas (ECT). Kirwin also is active in her children’s school and sporting events.
Kirwin is pursuing a degree in urban and regional planning from Texas State, which, she said, will enable her to “utilize expertise and resources” in CONA developments.
“I really want to hear what every neighborhood has to say and address each individual neighborhood’s concerns,” Kirwin said. “Every neighborhood is unique and different in what they want and what they need.”
Kirwin said she is planning a meeting with all of the neighborhood representatives in efforts to gauge a direction in which to lead CONA and “bridge some gaps.” She said CONA has lately been “very quiet” in the affairs of the city.
“We need to become a more positive, vocal aspect within the community in San Marcos, including Texas State,” Kirwin said. “And be a positive conduit to enhancing our neighborhoods, and improving the community as a whole.”
Kirwin said a main focus during her administration will be beautification and upkeep of neighborhoods, thus improving quality of life, attracting businesses, and maintaining property values on the upswing.
“I want a diverse community where we attract employers and people to live, work and play,” Kirwin said.
CONA has its monthly meetings on the first Thursday of every month, though it is uncertain where the meetings will take place. The San Marcos Activity Center used to hold the meetings, but recently asked for financial consideration, prompting CONA to hold September’s meeting at the Central Texas Medical Center classroom. Kirwin said CONA is not prepared or financially able to pay for a meeting place, but said the organization will continue.
Kirwin said residents are encouraged to attend the monthly meetings and voice concerns or questions, adding that neighborhood representatives also are available.
Kirwin said she has an “open-door policy” for anyone concerned with the neighborhoods.
“We welcome all that have questions and concerns and ideas,” Kirwin said. “We’re a volunteer organization and we’re not all going to always agree because there are so many people that are passionate. But that’s a good thing, because we all work together to foster a prosperous community.”
Camille Phillips, the outgoing CONA president, was elected to assume the position of secretary/treasurer, and community activist Christine North was inducted as a new board member.
CONA will hold a debate for the San Marcos city council candidates for Place 5 and Place 6 at the Activity Center on Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. Each seat has three candidates vying for the position after Texas State student John Carl Nesselhauf dropped out of the Place 5 race last week. Texas State academic advisor Lisa Marie Coppoletta, small business owner Shaune Maycock and homebuilder Ryan Thomason are in the race for Place 5. Incumbent John Thomaides is being challenged by retired civil servant Anita Fuller and Mary Kay beauty consultant Monica Garcia for the Place 6 seat.
CONA will not make any official endorsements. Kirwin said the debate is a “citizen based” forum, where anyone can ask the candidates any question. A reception will follow the debate, enabling residents to further speak with the candidates.