Crownover Calls for Public Input and Collaboration Over Boat Ramps at Commissioners Court Thursday
The biggest news at Thursday’s Commissioners Court wasn’t the new tax rate approved to fund the county’s $121.6 million budget.
Nobody even commented before commissioners set a 2021 combined tax rate of $35.3515 cents per $100 property evaluation.
Instead, the public had a lot to say once again about whether the county should be allowed to charge a fee at the nine-county boat ramps it operates around Canyon Lake.
On the agenda was an action item that would remove the words “free public access” and “free public use” from the county’s existing agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which owns Canyon Lake.
The issue divided the two commissioners who represent Canyon Lake, Pct. 1 Commissioner Donna Eccleston, who kicked off the controversy in June by announcing she was simply updating language used in a 1964 agreement, and Pct. 4 Commissioner Jen Crownover, who said: “This is being done with no plan.”
Commissioners ended up in executive session after listening to impassioned remarks from mostly Canyon Lake residents.
They returned and tabled the amendment without further comment.
Undeterred, an informal group of citizens still plans to meet from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at Canyon Lake Village Clubhouse, 1191 Skyline Dr., to talk about possible solutions to deal with 2021 problems like overcrowding, trash, safety, access, signage and parking.
One of those who plans to attend, Tess McClintock, spoke against Eccleston’s proposed changes at the meeting, suggesting commissioners instead take a pay cut to generate more revenue.
“She’s been a sneak,” McClintock said today. “At first, it wasn’t about fees, it was about changing the wording. Free to just public access. Everybody’s going, ‘wait a minute, why?’ Judge (Sherman) Krause said, ‘I have questions.’ She didn’t have answers for him because they didn’t discuss it.”
The Village West resident wasn’t happy about the executive session either.
“We the people should be knowing what you’re saying, too.”
McClintock hopes the public will turn out to back the group on Sunday.
“There’s just a handful of people like always that wants to get involved in things, and we need everybody here,” she said. “When the government comes knocking on the door and says we’re here to help, don’t believe it. Donna Eccleston thinks this is going to help. It won’t.”
Southside Canyon Lake resident Mike McCool, also at Thursday’s meeting, said too many ideas are floating around.
“Too many people are saying too many things about the language they’re trying to use,” he said today. “My reaction is that we need to form a committee of citizens to present a unified voice about what should be done. That’s what Sunday is going to be about.”
McCool said Eccleston’s suggestion that the 1964 language needs to be updated is wrong.
“The English language hasn’t changed that much from 1964 to now,” he said. “What she wants taken out is free use and access to the lake.”
Charging a fee opens up a whole can of worms like how to actually collect fees, whether locals should also pay for lake access, and even hours of operation, McCool said.
“Where’s that dollar going to be used, and who’s going to collect it,” he said. “There are too many things to be arbitrary about.”
“Right now, this is being done with no plan,” she said Thursday. “Public input and collaboration is obviously needed and painfully clear.”
Less controversial but equally critical, according to other Comal County residents, was commissioners’ approval Thursday of a $4,500 consulting fee for Moriarty & Associates. The firm will help draft a Project Information Form (PIF) the county can use to apply for a grant from the Texas Water Development Board’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund.
“Choosing to move forward with an application to the Texas Water Development Board to finance a program to protect water and mitigate floods in Comal County may seem small, but it is actually huge,” said Comal County Conservation Alliance’s Helen Ballew, a conservation consultant.
“I could not be more grateful to Judge Krause and all four commissioners for their foresight and support in taking this next step towards doing great things for the land and people of Comal County,” she said. “The Comal Conservation Alliance is thrilled, grateful, and ready to continue our work with the county to accomplish our shared land-conservation goals.”
Commissioners also approved Mammen Family Public Library in Bulverde, Comal County Office in Bulverde, Comal County’s Goodwin Annex in New Braunfels, St. Francis by the Lake Episcopal Church in Canyon Lake, Comal ISD Support Service Building, and Rebecca Creek Elementary School in Spring Branch as early voting locations for the Nov. 2 Constitutional Amendment Election.
Also decided was the maximum number of clerks for each polling location. Twenty-two election day polling locations also were approved.
Karen Hobson was named judge of the Early Voting Ballot Board. Caitlin Koehler will serve as manager. Also approved were Donna Dandridge as presiding judge of the Comal County Elections Office’s central counting station and Cynthia Jaqua as tabulating supervisor.
To watch the meeting, which is archived on MyComalCounty.com, click here.