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More on the Comal River follies

The Sunday Chron has a cover story on the recent and ongoing battles over who can do what while tubing down the Comal River in New Braunfels (see here, here, and here for previous installments).

For decades, New Braunfels tiptoed around the issue, giving more weight to economic and commercial interests than the social impact of alcohol-centered tourism.

“In the past, we’ve loved the sinners’ money more than we hated the sins,” as [former Houston oil executive-turned-city councilman Ken] Valentine has become fond of saying.

But now, with more college crowds and more “riffraff” from the Guadalupe, homeowners say the Comal has reached a boiling point.

“We’ve seen people out here feeding Jell-O shots to pit bulls,” said Valentine. He documents many of the indiscretions with his digital camera and periodic “surveys” of tubers.


So far this year, [New Braunfels Police have] issued more than 1,700 citations and made more than 475 arrests, he said.

“New Braunfels for many years has been a family environment, and we want to keep that,” [officer Kristen] Malish said. “What we don’t want is for this to be a Bourbon Street or a Key West, just a party town where people come and get rowdy.”

But Kody Smith, a Granbury middle school football coach who grew up in New Braunfels, said he barely recognized the river where he used to be a lifeguard.

“It’s just too constricting. There’s way too many more rules,” Smith said as he relaxed with fellow coaches by the river. “New Braunfels is going to hurt themselves doing this because there are other rivers in Texas.”

“How can you regulate public water?” he said. “That’s dumb.”

I figure someone like Tory could get at least a half dozen paragraphs out of a comparison between NB’s crackdown on its tourist industry and the attempt in the 90s to impose zoning on Houston, but I’m not quite up to it. I’ll just say that I’m not sure if the likes of Ken Valentine are killing the golden goose or saving it. We go to New Braunfels for the Schlitterbahn, so this doesn’t directly affect me. I’ve got a fair amount of sympathy for the homeowners, but I’ve also got a nagging feeling that they’re biting the hand that feeds their town. What do you think?

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One Comment

  1. Sharon Greiff says:

    When reading about this on Sunday; I could understand both sides. I’ve done my fair share of partying down the Guadalupe in my younger party days but as a homeowner now the big question is “Do I want the party in my own backyard?”. Where is the compromise? We have the same dilemma in our own neighborhood; new trendy bars. Oh sure they’ll bring in revenue but our neighborhood won’t see a dime of that in any kind of increased service levels that will result from the taxes. Will those river homeowners see new and improved services now that people are tubing down their river. All they can see are the expenses, the noise and the garbage.