Monday, September 04, 2006

Some thoughts on CPAC issues

Fellow CPAC members,

Please accept my humble apologies for having to miss yet another meeting. I am leaving in the morning for the world championship in British Columbia. After this I have one more trip scheduled for the end of Sept. and then I will work hard to become a much more active and productive member of this committee.

I am writing this - and posting it on my blog - as a reaction to the comments the rest of you have been sending the group - which I greatly appreciate so please keep me on your mailing lists, thanks. I was happy when Nancy set up a blog for the committee and then disappointed that no one else chose to participate in it. I think it would be a great way to encourage free discussion and allow other interested members of the community to see what we are discussing and provide us with their input. For this reason I will continue to post and report on our activities on my blog, anyway.

Regarding the vision statement and Clayton's list (I wrote this part last week but was unable to e-mail from northern MI for some reason):

Basically, I consider myself a resident first and a business owner second. What that means to me is that I place great value upon the aspects of this community that make it a great place to live. Being able to make a decent living where I live is certainly high on the list of desirable attributes - but it is just one of many. For that reason, I am not comfortable with the word "resort" as Clayton is using it; i.e as the diametrical opposite of "retirement."

Yes, we are a community that sells itself as a resort to the rest of the world and yes, tourism has, is and will undoubtedly continue to be the driving force in our economy. However, I do not see "resort" and "retirement" as two mutually exclusive terms. We can attract plenty of visitors - new and returning - while still keeping SPI a place that people want to live and eventually retire to. We can preserve and enhance the charms of existing residential neighborhoods while continuing to add new resort-type amenities. We can assume that open and accessible beaches, low-impact development, and funky-beachy charm - the very same aspects that drew us here - will continue to draw new visitors and residents as well. As I see it, it our job to ensure that future growth will accommodate the needs/desires of the residents as well as those whose sole purpose in being here is to make money.

Much of what I have read in the minutes and in the e-mails sent out by committee members take the form of complaints -- that the goals are pie-in-the-sky and do not have any basis in reality. Allow me to add one such complaint of my own:

It seems to me that everything that comes from this committee expresses a strong emphasis on the goal of "year-round tourism" -- so that we can all make lots of money every single day of the year. But nobody yet has explained to my satisfaction who these tourists are or where they are expected to come from. We describe ourselves as a family destination, and as long as kids have to be in school, family vacations are going to be limited to quick weekend jaunts and the summer/winter holidays. Which leaves us with older adults who have no or grown kids. Are they likely to come to a place where the main draw is to lay on the beach or by the pool during a season when the weather can be iffy? Sure they will - at least a certain percentage will -- if the beach is quiet and clean and the rooms are a bargain. Like it is now.

I am pretty sure that "year round tourism" is synonymous with "gambling" in a lot of peoples minds, and when they ask for the first they are really asking for the latter. There is still no legal way to open a casino here and even if that should change I think you will find a majority of the people who live here would oppose opening such an establishment on this end of the island. We do not have a large, rich metropolitan area to draw these year-round tourists from and fuel is not likely to ever be cheap again. So let's please consider _that reality as well.

Other resort communities - some with much higher advertising budgets than ours - have "seasons" just like us. I am missing meetings this month because beach communities seeking to extend their summer season schedule big sand sculpting events right about now. Year-round tourism is a myth -- a carrot being dangled in front of hardworking locals to sell them on gambling. Many of us have survived and thrived on a predictable tourist season and we consider the slow, quiet times the pay-off.

Thank you for this opportunity to express my feelings. I wish you all a productive meeting tomorrow and look forward to reading the minutes.



Blogger Sam said...

Thanks, Sandy, I am sure sme folks will read what you said because it is well said and doesn't take any pot-shots.

Boy it sure got quiet fast today though - the high season is kaput. I have expressed a desire to have a bigger fall shoulder season, such as for the beautiful beaches, warm water, bird migrations, Sand Castle Days, better fishing, and things like that, but would never want or expect SPI to be a "year round destination."

I will butt out of the CPAC issues but if you want to keep tabs on the gambling issue, your man is Kino Flores of Mission, a democrat who wants to pave the Island with casinos. He is chair of the House Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee, which is the only group that could originate a gambling bill in Texas. He should probably change his name to "Keno" because he appears to be quite addicted to the game (last session three Kino-keno bills failed).

That's what all those T-shirt shops are for, right?

10:30 PM  
Blogger ~Melissa said...

I have visted the island in September, October, November, December, January, Febuary and March. I love coming down in the fall. That is my favorite time. The time I was there in September was absolutely fabulous. I was told it was DINK (Dual Income No Kids) time on the Island. It was a great time to be on the island. The weather was perfect. You could still swim in the Gulf. The fall is the best! Advertise it as such. Advertise it in Houston, Austin, and Dallas. Advertise it as a place to get away to without the hassles of kids.

Of course the winters belong to the snow birds. Throw in Spring break and Bikefest and top it off with a few religious mexican holidays....Thats the Island in a Nutshell.

Speaking of Nutshells, My parents can't wait to get back down there. For my parents, it is becoming more than retirement or resort. They are semi retired. They love the resort atmosphere. They love the small town feel. The ma and pa restaurants. They stay longer and longer each year.

Here are some thoughts on the word resort. People think of resort like in mexico....the all inclusive resorts. I guess I really don't like either word. But both words hold true

Retirement, Thats going to attract an aging group of people. Younger people don't want to visit a retirement comunity. But, think of it this way, If you sell the retirement package, Sell it to the baby boomers. Sell it as a hip place to invest into. Sell it at a hip place to go. They have kids and grandkids who will visit and fall in love with the island and come back. My parents are responsible for bringing 15-20 people onto the island each year. All of us can't wait to come back.

There are my rambling thoughts about your post.


4:55 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

I'll let Sandy comment directly, Melissa, but there's a whole bunch of us semi-retired working people down here, and we still act like we're 22 years old! With the boomer generation fixing to get older, it can only get better. Send more!

As to neighbor_s, I arrived down here last June a year ago but I still hear rumblings about he Muni Center. Apparently it did pass a hotly contested vote, since I remember that's about when they arrested the Snake Man. The details as to how the funding was approved is I think what you meant ... it is all vague to me because I was selling / closing / moving / busy.

My wife should have some info about today's CPAC, as she just got there and called me. Later!

5:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a tourist, and I and my family have been coming to SPI on our annual vacation for at least a decade. The children have now all graduated from their universities and are living independently.

My husband and I still vacation on the Island - deliberately 'off-season' to take advantage of reduced condo rental costs. This allows for an extended vacation and uncrowded beaches. We come for the peaceful relaxing beauty of SPI, and rarely venture beyond our condo and what we came for: sea, sand and surf - with the exception of restaurants and the Blue Marlin for supplies.

I HATE the idea of casinos on my SPI, loathe the notion! In my opinion, gambling casinos would forever change the face of the island for the worse.

I can see gambling casinos driving away your summer clientele: families. Even those like us with grown children. I think my own grown children would like to come back to Padre with their future children someday, and so on and so on and so on. In fact I'm counting on Padre Thanksgivings for a long time to come.

As much as a non-resident can have a say, I vote NO to casinos!


5:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe there are several categories of tourists and several categories of retirees. Obviously, the retired people who choose to live here do not want the typical "retirement community". These are mostly people who are more active and involved and want to live in an active, thriving community. Most baby boomers retirees will also fall into that category. Tourist resorts are attractive to those people because they normally offer more amenities and entertainment. Look at the retirement population in Orlando, but one would not call it a "retirement community".
Tourists with kids are the summer business. But, there are lots of people out there of all ages with no kids (or with a nanny to care for them) and plenty of money to travel in the off season. But, do they know about SPI? I think year-round tourism can be improved, but the way (and to whom) SPI is advertised is the key.
Gambling would be disasterous to everything SPI represents.

5:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My Husband and I have been coming to the Island since the late 70's and now own a Condo as well as a vacant lot. We are intending to move to the Island next year. For us the draw is the off-season when locals and visitors alike can enjoy the natural things that the Island has to offer. To put casinos in the midst of all of that would be near to criminal in our opinion. We don't wish to become like all the other resort communities by inviting in those businesses that don't embrace the essence of the Island. We need to raise our voices in unison so that our Leaders will hear and head us! Thanks to all the residents for voicing the opinions and concerns of us visitors and future residents. Keep up the good work.

2:24 PM  

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