The New Braunfels City Council is hoping to make some parking changes this year before the busy tourist season begins. The city wants to charge a fee to park in the last remaining free spots along the river.
Beginning on May 1 and lasting through Labor Day, council members are proposing to charge a $20 fee for parking spots on the north side of East San Antonio Street and a $30 fee for 33 spots on Hinman Island Drive.
“Our objective is to try and collect from the tourists who come in, because they are the primary users of our river,” said New Braunfels Mayor Pro Tem, Wayne Peters.
Peters said the additional fees will go toward the River Fund, which helps maintain the river for things like cleaning and maintenance, lifeguards and additional police patrols on the weekends.
“If we don't collect enough revenue, then the city has to fund the difference out of our general fund, which means all taxpayers are paying for that,” Peters said
Two years ago, Peters said the city implemented paid parking in the Prince Solms lot and funding from the general fund went significantly down from what it had in previous years.
But residents said the proposed fees also affect their pocketbooks.
“We keep going to these places, and we’re staying,” said resident Sheridan Kruitz.
Peters said people living inside the city limits will be able to purchase a two-year parking pass for those spots for $40.
However, neighbors who enjoy visiting the river still have mixed feelings about the proposed fees. David Ward just moved to New Braunfels seven months ago and goes fishing along the riverbank with his son.
“It’s affordable, but still it’s just the principle, having to pay for something that our taxpayer dollars already paid for to begin with,” Ward said.
Matthew Harrell lives outside of the city and wouldn’t be eligible for the reduced rate parking pass, but said once he understood the issue, he agreed the extra fees would help benefit the river and the city.
“I feel it’s actually worth it when you think about it that way, to help this place, to keep it going, to keep the river right and healthy, it’s worth it,” he said.
City Council will vote on the ordinance in their meeting on February 25. Peters said the ordinance will be up for discussion before the vote if any residents wish to voice their concerns.