March 16, 2007
Easing up on the tubers

A small amount of sanity has been restored in New Braunfels, where it was sorely needed.

The City Council settled on new river rules Wednesday night, easing some of the proposed restrictions on tubers that were contained in the ordinances.

While still restricting the size of coolers that tourists can bring on the Comal and Guadalupe rivers, the council agreed to increase the maximum to a 16-quart ice chest. The earlier version, which was adopted, but then reconsidered, called for 7-quart coolers that could hold only six 12-ounce cans.

"It's a reasonable compromise," Councilman Pat Wiggins said.

First, the council rejected a motion to allow 48-quart ice chests on a 5-2 vote, with Councilwomen Sonja Munoz-Gill and Gale Pospisil backing the larger coolers.

"If we were to endorse that size cooler, we would be doing zero to address litter, zero to address drunkenness and zero to address safety," Councilwoman Kathleen Krueger said. "The problem is not going away until someone steps up to the plate."

Pospisil and Munoz-Gill focused on practical matters about how the 16-quart cooler would work.

It doesn't fit snugly in a tube, so it would be more likely to fall out. The most popular type, made by Playmate, opens in a manner that would be awkward to work while stored in a floating tube. And they asked how police would handle people floating into the city limits from the county with larger coolers on the Guadalupe River.

Others said the 16-quart cooler is too large to make a difference in reducing litter and alcohol problems.

Mayor Bruce Boyer agreed the 16-quart ice chest might not be ideal.

"That may be cutting the baby in half, but it is a start," he said.

It is indeed a start. And hopefully by that, this will be reviewed again to see if restricting cooler sizes had a desirable effect or not, and if not what should be done about it. Whether this will cool the ardor of the recall movement, I couldn't say.

The council also eased the restrictions in a second river ordinance, removing the requirement that children under age 8 wear life jackets, allowing tubers on the Comal to bring a second tube for their cooler and increasing the allowable size of floatation devices so anything that will fit down the tube chute is OK.

"I do strongly believe it is a personal parental right and obligation," Pospisil said of the proposal to make children wear life jackets. "I am also concerned about putting extra burdens on our police officers."

You mean extra burdens beyond those of cooler size enforcement? I don't mean to pick on Council Member Pospisil here, since she pushed for allowing standard-size coolers, but it seems to me that burdening the police has not been a prime consideration here.

Boyer said he thinks the committee should take a break until after the summer to see how the new rules work before taking any more action.

"We need a rest," Boyer said. "This issue has been very divisive and let's get the community to calm down a bit, and after Labor Day see what's going on."

Amen to that. As long as a real review is on the table at that time. We'll see.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 16, 2007 to The great state of Texas

While they are out enforcing cooler sizes, i think New Braunfels is missing the opportunity to really improve the river tubing experience with a few other rules:

- No men's speedos
- Anyone with boobs needs to keep them covered - especially men
- No bikinis if you are over 25

It's too bad that New Braunfels can't focus on these really important rules to improve the view on the river - aren't these at least as mportant as what they have done?

Posted by: Peter Hughes on March 16, 2007 9:41 AM