From the I-35 corridor shaping into a metroplex to bond elections and public transportation options in New Braunfels, check out all of Community Impacts cover stories in 2023.

Central Texas’ growth boosts developments, inches closer to metroplex

The Central Texas region from Austin to San Antonio experienced immense growth in the past decade due to economic development along the I-35 corridor.

By 2045, 53% of the population between San Antonio and Austin is expected to live within 5 miles of I-35, according to a 2019 study by the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Read the full story here.

Developers in New Braunfels to pay more for new road, water and electric infrastructure

With population growth and development reaching an unprecedented amount in recent years, the city of New Braunfels and New Braunfels Utilities have looked toward ways to keep up with capital improvement projects made necessary by the increased use of local roads and utilities.

In 2020, 66.8% of the developable land in New Braunfels city limits had been built out; by 2025, the number is anticipated to reach 73.5%, according to the city. The increased development of the Hill Country region can be attributed to the rise in population as New Braunfels saw a 56.8% increase in population from 2010-20, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Read the full story here.

Aquifer conservation making strides on Comal, San Marcos waterways

Heading into a decade of conservation management, the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan has made significant progress in preservation of its spring ecosystems and those efforts are set to continue in the coming years as drought conditions and invasive species persist.

The Comal and San Marcos springs are major focal points of those efforts, according to local conservationists, and key indicators of the overall health of the aquifer system.

Learn more about conservation efforts here.

New Braunfels calls for $140M bond for May ballot

New Braunfels residents will have the opportunity to vote on just over $140 million worth of projects in the upcoming May election. Improving transportation and mobility, building a new library facility, and completing a new park in New Braunfels will all be on the ballot.

The bond will have no impact on the tax rate, and voters will determine if they would like to approve the three separate propositions on the May ballot. New Braunfels Mayor Rusty Brockman said it was important to the City Council to not raise taxes to pay for the bond due to the economic state of the county.

Learn more about the New Braunfels May bond, which ended up being passed by voters.

For a record $634M, Comal ISD calls fifth bond in 10 years

Calling the fifth bond since 2013, the Comal ISD board of trustees is seeking a record $634 million for the May 6 election—the largest in the district’s history.

If successful, the bond would be the fourth implemented by the district in eight years, and it follows a pattern of the district trying to keep up with continued, rapid growth. According to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data, Comal County grew by more than 45,000 residents between the 2015 and 2021 bonds.

Read more about the projects that were passed on the Comal ISD bond here.

New Braunfels restaurants persist, innovate after pandemic challenges

The dining industry across the country has faced multiple challenges in the past couple of years due to COVID-19, staffing struggles and inflation leading to higher operating costs.

Around 100 restaurants in New Braunfels have not been spared in the obstacles faced by the dining industry; many local restaurants have had to get creative to persevere through the region’s economic challenges.

Read more about how restaurants overcame the pandemic here.

Capital projects and utility rates increase with population in New Braunfels

Customers of New Braunfels Utilities will see an increase in their utility bills after the new two-year rate plan goes into effect Aug. 1.

The proposed rate adjustments will allow NBU to maintain prudent financial operations, appropriate debt coverage ratios and adequate reserve fund levels for electric operations while investing in capital improvement projects, according to NBU officials.

Learn more about future infrastructure plans of NBU and how they affect your utility bills here.

Women’s health care expands to meet demand in New Braunfels

The women’s services departments at local hospitals in New Braunfels have begun to adapt and evolve with the growing community.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population in New Braunfels increased by 66% from 2012 to 2022.

“We have to expand our women’s program; we’ve really made a business case to do that,” Resolute Baptist Hospital CEO Mark Bernard said. “Right now, the way we’re set up, we’re just going to run out of space looking at the projected growth.”

Read more about the growth of women's healthcare in New Braunfels here.

Foundation issues on the rise in New Braunfels

Following continued growth on the east side of the city and ongoing drought conditions, New Braunfels has seen what officials called a “significant increase” in the number of residential foundation repair permits filed over the past several years.

Permits filed in New Braunfels for foundation repairs increased by nearly 118% from 2018-22, according to data from the city. With nearly 200 filed so far in 2023, officials said they anticipate the trend to continue.

Learn more about the upward trend in foundation repair in New Braunfels here.

New Braunfels educators adapt to new state testing

As districts across the state await the release of the most recent test scores, local educators in Comal and New Braunfels ISDs said they administered the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness—or STAAR exams—in April after working throughout the 2022-23 school year to adapt to the new question varieties and move to an online testing format.

The districts also worked toward improving technology resources, increasing their focus on typing skills and responding to open-ended questions. The now entirely online format for the exam was due to a decision from legislators in 2019 to redesign the STAAR test.

Read the full story here.

New Braunfels prioritizes water conservation as extreme heat persists

South Central Texas was hit with a double threat this summer: record-breaking high heat and little rainfall. The region has seen temperatures over 100 degrees nearly every day since July 8, causing the evaporation of local water reservoirs and increased wildfire risk.

Although water levels at reservoirs have reached staggering lows, Ryan Kelso, interim CEO of New Braunfels Utilities, said New Braunfels is not in danger of running out of water.

“We’ve diversified our water supply portfolio; we now have seven different supply sources that total nearly 50,000 acre-feet of total supply,” Kelso said. “For context, last year, we used just under 20,000 acre feet of water. And so there’s plenty of water to last us out into the 2060 decade if we continue to implement these conservation measures and meet our [water usage] goals.”

Learn more about last summer’s drought conditions here.

NBISD officials: Tax rate change would prevent budget shortfall

To balance the district’s budget, the New Braunfels ISD board of trustees voted Aug. 21 to call a Nov. 7 election for voters to authorize the addition of 3 cents to the district’s tax rate.

If approved, the voter-approval tax rate election, or VATRE, would provide additional funding that will go toward maintenance and operations in the district, 80% of which is dedicated to teacher and staff compensation.

Learn more about the VATRE, which was passed by voters, here.

New Braunfels recycling efforts expand to meet growth of community

As the city grows in population, the New Braunfels Solid Waste & Recycling Department has had to expand to meet the increasing needs of the community.

In September, the city entered an agreement to partner with WM, formerly known as Waste Management, a waste disposal company.

WM plans to build a $48 million materials recovery facility which will handle, sort and ship recyclable materials in New Braunfels.

Read more about future plans for recycling in New Braunfels here.

New Braunfels begins effort to bring public transit options

The city of New Braunfels formally took the first steps of implementing a public transportation plan with a vote endorsing its goals and vision by the City Council on Nov. 13.

The plan’s recommendations include a hybrid public transit system consisting of both ride-hailing—or microtransit—on-demand shuttle service and fixed bus routes along major road arteries.

“As we get into the first couple years of ridership, we’re going to be continuing to monitor the ridership with the microtransit, and also planning for fixed routes,” said Garry Ford, director of transportation and capital improvements for the city.

Learn more about New Braunfels public transportation plans here.