Lakeside Property

‘Lake Life’ on the Brink of Financial Catastrophe in Guadalupe Valley

Seguin resident Travis Anderson is disillusioned he missed the assembly this week when Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority (GBRA) voted to observe by means of on its plan to empty the lakes fashioned practically a century in the past by damming sections of the Guadalupe River.

Whereas a throng of neighborhood members pleaded for a unique plan, Anderson, a realtor with Anders Pierce Realty in Seguin, was displaying waterfront homes to potential patrons on Lake Travis.

Anderson initially deliberate to indicate houses on Lake McQueeney, however a change in location was prompted by the GBRA’s current resolution to dewater the lakes held again by 90-year-old dams, whose deteriorating situations pose a security threat.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Anders Pierce Realty realtor Travis Anderson in downtown Seguin.

Already, the dams at Lake Wooden and Lake Dunlap have failed, the primary in 2016 and the second in Might. Beginning Sept. 16, Lake Gonzales, Meadow Lake, Lake Placid, and Lake McQueeney, all simply east of San Antonio, shall be drained and the dams decommissioned. Although the GBRA drained some water from the lakes in 2018 to start repairs, it has now deserted that plan.

However the financial influence of totally draining the lakes on the communities surrounding them is but to be decided. The Save Our Lakes Coalition, made up of a number of advocacy teams, has mobilized space residents and enterprise homeowners and commissioned a proper examine of how the communities shall be impacted.

A full report on the $30,000 financial influence examine being carried out by The Perryman Group is due in about three weeks, mentioned Tess Coody Anders, a Trinity College advertising vp who lives close to Lake McQueeney and whose husband owns actual property businesses in New Braunfels and Seguin.

The coalition additionally has requested the Metropolis of Seguin and Guadalupe County to assist help the examine to make sure it’s full and unbiased and will be factored into the chance evaluation associated to draining and the timeline and price to restore the dams.

Associated: 4 Lakes On Guadalupe River To Be Drained To Keep away from Dam Failure

For Anderson’s shoppers, the chance that property values will drop together with water ranges is just too nice, and patrons are asking him to indicate them houses close to different lakes within the area – Canyon Lake, Lake LBJ, and Lake Austin. He predicts a ripple impact within the native financial system.

“All of these are individuals which might be shopping for million-dollar properties that may be nice contributors to our native city or financial system,” Anderson mentioned.

Those that already personal lakefront houses are taking a wait-and-see method earlier than attempting to promote their houses, he mentioned, frightened their property values will lower and “bottom-feeders” will prey upon these anxious to promote.

“So you’re taking waterfront property and also you take away that worth of the waterfront,” Anderson mentioned. “That has a big effect economically. It definitely impacts our college techniques as a result of property taxes are the first technique of funding the college techniques.”

Brad and Miriam Jones, who moved to Seguin in 2012, bringing their business furnishings enterprise with them, try to determine when they need to promote the lakefront residence that’s simply steps from downtown Seguin and the GBRA workplaces.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Miriam Jones walks all the way down to Meadow Lake from her residence.

“Our objective was to create our dream with waterfront residing,” Miriam mentioned. “So we discovered a spot on Meadow Lake. We needed to stay on the water and our enterprise entails quite a lot of entertaining. So we created a retreat in our residence the place designers come, and our shoppers. They arrive, they keep, they eat, they store, and hang around on the water.”

The Joneses additionally bought a constructing in downtown Seguin and started a restoration venture to create a showroom of their high-end furnishings. They’ve labored with the Metropolis to have utilities arrange and invested $35,000 within the renovation. Information that the lakes could be drained put a halt to their plans and so they now intend to promote the constructing.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Miriam Jones walks by means of the unfinished showroom.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

(From left) Brad and Miriam Jones.

Although a call about when to promote their waterfront house is on maintain, Miriam mentioned, “We’re not going to stay in a ditch.” After the lakes are drained, the Joneses concern severe and expensive injury to the bulkheads alongside the lake. Like many within the space, the couple has already put their boat in storage.

On the 13 acres that Precision Boat Works proprietor Thomas Lengthy owns close to Lake McQueeney, there are about 150 boats of all sizes parked behind his newly expanded boat restore store and in a storage constructing he lately constructed. There are 50 boat homeowners on his ready record for storage, so he’s planning to construct 30 extra to accommodate them.

Lengthy’s largest buyer base personal trip houses on the lake. “That’s form of the bread and butter of our enterprise,” Lengthy mentioned. “We retailer their boats right here, put them within the water in the summertime … so it’s extra than simply boat restore, which is why we selected this space to begin our enterprise.”

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Precision Boat Works proprietor Thomas Lengthy.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Precision Boat Works space for storing.

Whereas Lengthy pivots to largely boat storage as a technique to preserve his enterprise afloat within the wake of the lakes being drained, enterprise homeowners like Chris Nelligan-Davis, captain of Pink Beard Boats, isn’t positive he’ll be capable to proceed working in any respect.

Nelligan-Davis began the watercraft rental enterprise three years in the past and depends on the earnings to help himself, his spouse, and toddler son. He lately bought a ski boat so as to add to his fleet of kayaks, paddleboards, jet skis, and a pontoon, and invested $50,000 final spring in a ship dock that quickly could sit to dry land.

Taking his enterprise on the highway to different close by lakes would add overhead prices which may not make it possible, he mentioned. He hopes sufficient water will stay within the river to function the pontoon or he could concentrate on kayak leases. “So far as promoting the enterprise, I don’t know who would purchase it if the lake is drained.”

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Chris Nelligan-Davis, proprietor of Redbeard Boats.

Alongside FM 725 in Seguin, a two-lane stretch of roadway that hugs Lake McQueeney, “lake life” is supported by one enterprise after one other – from the Lake Breeze Ski Lodge and Dam Camp to bait retailers, bars, and eating places. At Blake’s Café, proprietor Ginger Sanders mentioned she is for certain dropping the lake will imply lack of enterprise, particularly through the peak recreation season of summer time.

Even in downtown Seguin, the consequences could also be felt. Heather Felty, who left her job at Rackspace to personal and handle the Court docket Avenue Espresso Store a yr in the past, mentioned she’s seeing a rising variety of out-of-town and lake-bound guests at her store. However, for locals, she mentioned the lakes and rivers are an essential a part of the tradition of the neighborhood that may change if the lakes are gone.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Court docket Avenue Espresso Store proprietor Heather Felty.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Court docket Avenue Espresso Store in downtown Seguin.

“I simply suppose we have to see a plan about it, of the way it’s going to influence all of us,” Felty mentioned. “I don’t suppose now we have to do the whole lot drastically. It will simply be nice if we had a company that may assist and include a plan of motion.”

With simply weeks to go earlier than the lakes are drained, on Thursday, kids and households have been splashing and taking part in within the water’s edge on Lake Placid at Son’s Island, a trip property owned by Finest Texas Journey. At the least 16 of its 40 cabanas have been rented for the day whereas a dozen or so of the operation’s whole 60 staff supervised visitor parking and gear leases. At peak instances, the resort brings 15,000-18,000 individuals a month to Seguin.

Operations Supervisor Harrison Wooden estimates that Son’s Island, open since 2014, has an annual financial influence on the neighborhood of a minimum of $1.1 million. Roughly $535,000 is spent on native items, labor, taxes, and utilities, and $539,000 is returned to the neighborhood by means of oblique spending of its friends who purchase gasoline, groceries, and leisure gadgets from retailers within the space. Added to which might be related estimates for the corporate’s different properties within the Guadalupe Valley.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Two boys get pleasure from leisure water actions provided by Son’s Island on Lake Placid.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Lake Placid touches Son’s Island.

“None of it had our 90-plus staff and contractors who additionally stay on this space, no projections included them,” Wooden mentioned. “If we start to speak about the true numbers and the true influence, that quantity rises to $2.6 million by means of individuals who stay right here, go to high school right here, and obtain their paycheck from us.”

Whereas the one-lane bridge to Son’s Island often closes for the winter someday in October, if the lake is drained, leaving cabanas within the mud yards from a shallow riverbed, Wooden mentioned the resort will shut in September and relocate standing reservations to sister properties within the space. They may add a splash pad or pool and supply river tubing sooner or later.

Michael Kuehne has lived within reach of the dam on Lake McQueeney for 3 years. His house is considered one of 15 on the tiny Isle of View, created when the dam was constructed 90 years in the past and flooded the valley the place a pecan orchard as soon as stood. Lake Placid is seen from the higher deck of his boathouse.

Kuehne watched the water degree on his bulkhead drop about 24 inches a yr in the past when the GBRA started releasing water for dam restore work. Buoys labeled “preserve out” are scattered all alongside the waterway behind his residence and dock, and no swimming or boating is allowed attributable to security considerations with the dam.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Michael Kuehne, house owner on the Isle of View on Lake McQueeney, explains how his property shall be affected.

He’s resigned to the truth that his residence will quickly supply solely a water “view” as an alternative of waterfront, however worries concerning the influence on his property values in addition to the 100-year-old cypress bushes. If the lakes are drained, Kuehne believes the majestic bushes will die with out the help of the water.

However he additionally empathizes with the individuals who make their residing based mostly on the lakes and who haven’t had time to regulate their enterprise plans.

“What could be supreme is, if [GBRA was] draining the lakes based mostly on a plan – let’s say it’s two years to restore – I feel most of us would agree and really feel higher about that. Proper now, it’s in an indefinite mode. It might flip the lake right into a discipline of hay. That’s the place the anxiousness and concern is coming from largely.

“Persons are involved that in the event that they drain it, it could possibly be for endlessly.”

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