NEW BRAUNFELS – Over 100 New Braunfels residents voiced their concerns during a river recreation meeting at the Civic and Convention Center Thursday night. The meeting, held by city officials, served as a review of the past tubing season which unofficially ended on Labor Day.
"We're asking citizens to come and talk about how we move forward, how we end up creating the type of rivers that are safe and pristine for not only our residents but the guests we invite here," said Mayor Barron Casteel.
Nearly every designated speaker at the 12 tables touched on litter and the river access fees. Tubers who go through river outfitters pay a $1.50 fee that the city collects to help with river cleanup. Through July of this season, those fees totaled $306,000.
"The city of New Braunfels goes into debt every summer because of the cost of law enforcement and cleanup," said resident Kathleen Krueger. "It's our hope that we would at least make that revenue neutral."
The group brought up the idea of extending the river access fee to all visitors who use the river. Many unofficial studies claim as many as 40 percent of river users do not pay the fee.
"At the end of the day it's opening doors, opening communication, everybody talking about the issues," said Shane Wolf, general manager of Rockin' R River Rides. "Getting together at the round table and figuring out how to solve the issues."
The idea of a deposit for bringing cans or bottles onto the rivers was also suggested. If a floater entered the river with 12 cans, they would have to exit with 12 cans or lose that deposit. While the can ban battle continues in courts, alternate solutions have started to rise.
"We all have the same commonalities for the most part," said Wolf. "We want clean rivers, we want good behavior and we want a profitable town from that standpoint."
"I think it's safe to say that New Braunfels will not allow our rivers to be desecrated and destroyed and as a community I think we're going to work to find solutions," added Krueger.
An ad hoc committee of river stakeholders will meet in the next few weeks with these concerns to see what, if any changes can be made to improve on all issues during the next summer tubing season.