Growth Summit shares

by Crystal Gottfried, Staff Writer

From now until the year 2050 growth in Comal County could see about 3,500 people each year moving in.

Local officials gathered together for a "Growth Summit" last week, with leaders from the City of New Braunfels, New Braunfels Utilities, Comal Independent School District, as well as Comal County comparing notes on the overwhelming, phenomenal, and explosive growth in the area.

County Engineer Tom Hornseth's presentation reiterated that the county's projected growth to nearly 325,000 people by 2050 will continue to have an impact on every agency.

For example, Hornseth's data from recent years shows that Comal County has grown by 12,500 new lots in the last eight years. His office authorizes permits for an average of 129 new septic systems every month; another reliable measure of imminent growth.

Other concerns facing county and city leaders is the ability to provide water to the increasing number of residents, although Hornseth thinks that water could be a growth-controlling mechanism sooner than expected because the estimated statewide consumption crisis could flatten the growth curve.

In addition to water resources, the consistent growth generates similar requests for other services from increased calls for police services to doubling the calls that are received by the local fire/EMS departments.

Comal ISD also has serious concerns about the tremendous growth trends that continue in the county.

With subdivisions opening vast residential areas all over the district, CISD is working as quickly as possible to build enough new schools to educate the new students, even though rising construction costs diminish the district's recently approved bond-funding by making new schools ever more expensive to build.

CISD Superintendent Marc Walker told the summit members that information from a firm that makes projections for school district indicates that "if this area builds out to capacity, like other growing areas have, CISD will eventually have 25 high schools."

New Braunfels ISD, which does not have the same expansion capability as CISD, still feels the proportional strain on its facilities from the 250 new students it expects each year.

All who attended the summit, instigated by New Braunfels Mayor pro tem and District 1 Councilwoman Sonia Munoz-Gill, were able to share their worst-case scenarios, and unique perspectives, although no one anticipated that solutions would come easy or could even keep up with the growth.

A descriptive presentation illustrating the discussion points of the Growth Summit is available from the Comal County website.

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