Victoria should expand facilities for tourists

Aug. 6, 2013 at 3:06 a.m.

Editor, the Advocate:

Historic Victoria has a golden opportunity within its grasp to demonstrate that it is serious about protecting our historic architectural treasures while tapping into a Texas heritage tourism industry valued at $6.3 billion in 2011.

This industry is based upon a walkable historic district, a downtown full of home-grown shops, restaurants and bars as well as opportunities for visitors to enjoy theater, museums and cultural events. Does this not sound like our newly revitalized downtown?

So what is Victoria lacking? Two critical elements are needed: an inviting visitors center and a public restroom. A center at the half-block behind the Street of Ten Friends sign would serve as a beacon to travelers motoring along the Business 59 and Highway 87 corridor. It would stand ready to receive visitors and give them a reason to pull over. The center would provide a resting point filled with friendly smiles and information that would send visitors into our downtown eager to see more and spend their dollars, enjoying some of the best food, entertainment and history that our state has to offer. Secondly, Cuero and Goliad already provide hospitable public restrooms in their downtowns. Our city leaders must make this happen adjacent to DeLeon Plaza, home to our signature Bootfest event as well as numerous outdoor concerts and market days.

It is time to utilize the funds set aside from our hotel occupancy tax to bring the pre-Civil War era Zahn house to Main Street as part of a visitors center complex and to build a public restroom that says: Victoria has a walkable downtown that welcomes people to come enjoy the old co-existing with the new. Victoria would then stand ready to facilitate their visitation while reaping the benefits of a clean industry that grows our present while preserving our past.

Let us act now to capture this golden opportunity. It would make our founder, Martin DeLeon, and his friends very proud.

James Wearden, downtowner, Victoria



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