Current Buda downtown a good thing

Despite what Buda resident Tommy Poer said several weeks ago in a letter to the editor, Buda is not a “bar” town. Buda has been fortunate enough to have “local owned and local grown” restaurants in downtown in the past few years, developed with the “Old Town Buda Charm” ideas. They have caused downtown to become a vibrant nightlife and to serve as “anchors” in the area, keeping the streets from being “rolled up” at 5 p.m. while adding to Buda’s coffers. But the problem is the noise ordinance passed by the council a few months ago. Buda citizens showed up in abundance and overwhelmingly opposed the proposed noise ordinance. We were ignored in favor of a few senior citizens who do not want any progress to come to Buda. With the current decimal levels set out by the council, one could get a citation for mowing their yard or having a few friends over for a BBQ. The city council had no professional survey made of the decimal levels. Instead, it was based on internet research and Councilmember Eileen Altmiller asking the police chief if he had performed any noise level surveys. Bo Kidd responded that he had walked around one night and took a few samples, but did not state whether or not there was any music playing downtown, what time of the afternoon it was, what type of traffic there was on Main Street, FM 2770 or FM 967, whether or not it was windy, cold or hot – all of which are strong variables in determining noise decimal levels. The council succumbed to the voices of a few, rather than listening to the majority.

 I am a 55-year-old man who has lived in Buda for the past 14 years and I have been involved in the real estate industry for 30 years. My grandmother was born here in 1897 – when the Buda downtown had more to offer than a few years ago. Buda is no longer a sleepy little railroad town; its citizens do not sit on the front porch listening to the locusts and waiting for “Andy and Aunt Bee” to stop by. The median age here is 33 and the median household income is more than $70,000. Until a few years ago, we had to go the Austin or San Marcos for a nice meal, live music or an enjoyable night out with loved ones or friends. I find it curious that I live across the street from Ms. Poer and it seems odd that an 80-something-year-old with a hearing aid can hear music so loud that she has to turn down her hearing aid, while I cannot hear the music at all.

 The council showed its brilliant development strategies a few weeks ago when it denied a local business woman a permit to open a new business in the downtown area. This business was to be a high-end liquor, wine and specialty food store where the alcohol was only 30% of the projected monthly sales. The council approved it once, but denied it on second vote. The second time around opposition called it a “package” store, saying Buda was becoming 6th street and becoming known as “Alcoholic Alley.” Mayor Todd Ruge pointed out to council members that, due to liquor laws, the store would have to close by 9 p.m., so late night gatherings and drinking on the site would not be a problem. His suggestion was shot down, and the new business’ permit was not approved.

 That is absurd. I truly believe council members who opposed this venture have never been to a high-end wine and food store, or do they have enough experience to know that Buda is not large enough to support a “6th Street” environment.

 Those who have come into Buda and opened antique stores, I applaud you. But understand that Buda is no longer an “antique town.” Past councils thought if they brought in a bunch of box stores along the interstate and put up a sign saying, “Visit Old Town Buda,” that visitors would flock. Wrong – at least until the recent developments of locally owned establishments. I find it curious, that Chili’s Restaurant has higher grossing liquor sales than any of the establishments downtown, but do you hear anyone speaking against them? 

Buda needs progressive businesses and progressive council members who will not be swayed by their personal opinions and the voices of a few older residents. They need to listen to the majority of Buda residents who want change and places to go. They want to spend their money in Buda and it won’t be only in antique stores.

 Those talking about the “Old Charm” of Buda must have forgotten the vacant buildings of the former Buda “ghost town.”  The current businesses in our downtown are bringing “our” town back to life and we should embrace and support them.

 I suggest that members of the Buda City Council who oppose change and progress should give up their seats to someone not afraid of change, or be ready to catch one of the many trains out of the down and find their “Mayberry.”

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