A three-hour Saturday morning city council meeting about downtown Kyle drew a mix of business owners and residents, all looking at the various needs of the area.
As is always the case, potholes and broken sidewalks, parking and taxes all were part of the discussion.
As the council carefully listened, it became clear that a consensus was not going to be reached soon.
Residents don’t want more noise – especially in the form of loud bars. A handful of business owners agreed, but it seemed that some residents resented businesses even opening in the area.
The plan for downtown Kyle (even a map showing the proposed “downtown” of Kyle was a point of contention) is to slowly move toward a more pedestrian friendly business district. But the problem with Kyle, as opposed to towns such as Georgetown or even Buda, is that Kyle’s “downtown” area is predominately filled with residences. There are few older commercial buildings available for lease or remodel. And until those residences are purchased as citizens begin to move out and those homes are remodeled and turned into businesses, the possibility of a vibrant downtown district is not going to happen quickly.
Residents have every right to not want loud bars next door; they have every right to demand that sidewalks are fixed.
But those same residents have to understand that businesses moving into the area are not the enemies. Those businesses pay high amounts of taxes compared to the benefits they draw from the city. Businesses in a downtown area are a boon, not a bust.
On the other side of the coin, future businesses cannot push out residents who want to remain in their homes.
An equilibrium has to be struck which helps residents and businesses alike. The city, while it cannot advocate for one business over another, has the ability to encourage certain kinds of businesses to come into town.
But new businesses will not be able to survive without foot traffic. Parking is always a discussion point, but when there are numerous shops and well-maintained and nice-looking sidewalks, shoppers don’t mind walking.
That’s the idea that the council is pushing … a well-contained and nice-looking retail and office zone throughout downtown.
Center Street will slowly move to a commercial zone; it’s the continual change of a city that is growing.
But residents will have to make businesses feel welcome in the downtown area. They need to come downtown, bring their friends and support the local businesses already trying to fix up the area.
Otherwise, Kyle’s downtown could easily become just like some other towns – with buildings and homes that have boarded up windows, weeds growing on vacant lots while the town’s growth heads out to the state roads and highways.
That’s not a downtown that anyone in Kyle wants.