Friends, neighbors, business owners, and government officials gathered for a La Vernia town hall meeting Oct. 11 in the primary school cafeteria. The meeting was well-attended and allowed community members to voice their opinions on topics such as economic development, housing, and parks and recreation.
The meeting began with an overview of La Vernia’s demographics from Chris Holtkamp of the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA). LCRA offers energy, water, and community services for areas throughout Central Texas. Holtkamp also reviewed a survey given to community members prior to the meeting. According to the survey, 95.5 percent of respondents agreed that they live in La Vernia because it’s just a “good place for families.” Holtkamp said they want to help protect the qualities that brought community members here in the first place.
Participants were placed in focus groups with topics that included the development of Chihuahua Street, economic development, housing, parks and recreation, and a “wild card,” where all issues could be discussed.
Some ideas for Chihuahua Street included organizing a clean-up day and restoring some of the buildings while still maintaining their historical significance. Other community members mentioned the importance of “shopping La Vernia” and supporting local businesses. Participants also viewed mock plans for a proposed nature park in La Vernia where people could hike and bird watch. The plans showed a 28-acre plot of land along the Cibolo Creek behind the La Vernia Independent School District administration building and Tutti Bella on U.S. 87 and through the Hillcrest subdivision.
Community member and owner of La Vernia Pump & Supply Keith Johanson said the idea for the nature park came about because that land is in a flood plain.
“If we have another 1998, the more dirt we have, the better off we’ll be,” he said.
La Vernia Code Enforcement Officer Janet Thelen said the city has received good feedback from the residents of the Hillcrest subdivision, who would be closest to the nature park.
The focus groups held discussions in 15-minute intervals until all participants had a chance to share their opinions on each topic. Holtkamp said the meeting should provide a framework for decision-making for city officials so La Vernia can continue to grow in the right direction.
By Nannette Kilbey-Smith
According to Mayor Harold Schott and Code Enforcement Officer Janet Thelen, more than 100 people attended, including members of the La Vernia Independent School District board of trustees, the city’s municipal development district, the business community, the La Vernia Chamber of Commerce, and the Greater La Vernia Chamber of Commerce.
In addition, more than 20 La Vernia High School students participated, Thelen said, earning extra credit for a government class and adding their input for the city’s future.
“It was a good cross-section of the city and surrounding community,” Schott said. “We had good comments from all. ... They’re our stakeholders. We try to be receptive to all their comments.”
“More than anything, people got a chance to think about their big dreams for the community -- arts, theater, music, and a community pool were mentioned,” Thelen said. “Not just stores or potholes, but enrichment for the community.”
She offered a special thanks to two teens, Ali Beck and Ryan Thelen, who prepared and cooked the food donated by H-E-B, set up the tables, and helped prepare the venue, and to the La Vernia ISD for use of the facility.
“It’s the first time I can ever remember this many people coming out for something like this,” Schott said.