Advocate edtiorial board opinion: Additional parking at Riverside will enhance park

By the Advocate Editorial Board
Nov. 12, 2010 at 5:12 a.m.
Updated Nov. 13, 2010 at 5:13 a.m.

Some think the city's plan to construct additional parking at Riverside Park was part of a back-door deal made with the owners of the future Pumphouse Riverside Restaurant and Bar, which was purchased from the city for $68,500.

The city estimates it will spend $182,000 for the materials and equipment to build nearby parking and the restaurant's owners have offered to pay for lighting at the parking area to the tune of $31,200. This was done in open session.

No back-door deal was made to sell the old pump house and water storage tank to Dennis Patillo and his wife, Louise Hull Patillo. The city and the surrounding region are the big winners in this deal. Rather than a back-door deal, this is an exciting investment in Victoria's future.

An eyesore that was going to cost the city money now stands to be an attraction for decades to come. The city had discussed demolishing the pump house and storage tank and returning the land to the park in open sessions. Discussions on that proposition began about three years ago.

That demolition would have cost the city about $250,000 to $300,000, including tearing out an underground tank.

Rather than demolishing the structure, the city decided to sell the property and received one bid.

The Patillos bought the pumphouse and are converting it into a restaurant - the Pumphouse Riverside Restaurant and Bar. The owners plan on investing more than $1 million to transform it into a restaurant.

Here's by-the-numbers data that demonstrate good fiscal management in selling the property and installing parking:

The city avoided paying a quarter of a million dollars for demolition by selling the pump house.

The city was spending $20,000 a year to maintain the pump house structure and land.

The city will spend $182,000 to construct a parking area.

The Pumphouse Riverside Restaurant will spend $31,200 on lighting for the parking area.

Building the 117-space parking at Memorial and John F. Lee drives will benefit the Texas Zoo, Paddle Trail members, disk golf players, hikers, bikers, families having picnics, golfers, as well as the new restaurant when it opens.

The Pumphouse Riverside Restaurant plans on hiring 32 employees.

Over a 10-year period, an estimated sales tax income from the restaurant is $1.39 million.

Over the same 10-year period, an estimated $254,700 in property taxes will be paid.

You can see how the city saved a lot of money on this property sale. And we think the additional parking - and restaurant - will greatly improve the park while spurring a business climate there. More businesses and features for the park will surely fall in place in this beautiful space by the Guadalupe River. And engineers have said that if builders take floods into consideration when constructing, the structures easily could be cleaned up following heavy rains.

If all goes well, Riverside could become a destination park like Brackenridge Park is in San Antonio. The city of Victoria acted wisely to sell the old pump house, and the purchasers and the city are helping to bring the park to a new level of attractiveness.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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