College Station City Council discusses Christmas plans, public safety at Northgate and more

The College Station City Council met Thursday to address a wide array of issues, concerning the growth of the community.
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Published: Sep. 28, 2023 at 11:33 PM CDT
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) -The College Station City Council met on Thursday to discuss several matters impacting the community, including plans for the upcoming Christmas holiday, the Northeast Gateway Redevelopment Plan, and outdoor dining and noise regulations in the Northgate Entertainment District.

Christmas in College Station & Santa’s Wonderland Partnership

The council discussed the city’s Visit College Station’s 2023 Christmas in College Station campaign. City staff says this initiative aims to boost tourism through marketing strategies, business involvement, and a series of festive events. Notably, it includes the inaugural Christmas Parade scheduled for Saturday, December 2. The festivities will culminate in the official tree-lighting ceremony at Central Park later that evening.

The council also unanimously approved a $75,000 sponsorship agreement with Santa’s Wonderland. This agreement entails the holiday attraction receiving $75,000 in hotel occupancy tax revenue, which is half of the allocation from the last three years.

Brian Piscacek, College Station’s Director of Economic Development, emphasized the broader goal of their marketing efforts.

“The point of our marketing efforts is to really drive attention to everything else that’s happening in College Station. Obviously, Santa’s Wonderland is a primary destination, but we want people who are traveling to Santa’s Wonderland to be familiar with College Station as a whole to an extent that there’s again retail, restaurant options, events, and activities,” said Piscacek.

However, some council members raised concerns about the impact on local hotels that cater to Santa’s Wonderland visitors.

“Outside of game day, that’s gotta be our next biggest attraction,” said College Station City Councilman Bob Yancy. “Is there anything we’re doing here with this agreement going to hurt the hotels that are trying to book folks to accommodate overnight stays for Santa’s Wonderland?”

Piscacek assured them that the partnership should encourage visitors to the city to stay longer by exploring additional activities offered in College Station.

“For folks who are going to go to Santa’s Wonderland ideally, they’re going to discover our landing page through our collateral partnership with Santa’s Wonderland and see there are activities where they have the option to extend their stay,” said Piscacek.

Among these activities is the Aggieland Express Holiday Deal Pass, which allows visitors to earn points for attending holiday events or purchasing holiday-themed beverages, redeeming them for prizes provided by Visit College Station. Other events include Howdy Holly Days at Northgate, the Holiday Artisan Market at Century Square, Breakfast with Blue Santa, Jingle on the Green, and more than a dozen more family-friendly activities.

Jerimiah Cook, College Station Tourism Manager, expressed the city’s broader vision for the holidays.

“At the end of the day, we want people to come and spend money here not just to leave an economic impact but we want them to also fall in love with the city that we all love and we want them to want to come back,” said Cook.

Santa’s Wonderland provided KBTX with a statement in advance of Thursday’s council meeting. You can find the statement below, along with a presentation regarding Visit College Station’s 2023 “Christmas in College Station” campaign.

Northeast Gateway Redevelopment Plan

Following a public hearing, the city council unanimously adopted the Northeast Gateway Redevelopment Plan and made amendments to associated maps in the Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Greenways Master Plan. City staff says this comprehensive plan focuses on fostering vertical and horizontal mixed-uses, supporting existing commercial ventures, and diversifying housing options. The changes focus on two areas near Texas Avenue and University Drive.

“The crossings focuses more on the redevelopment, creating more of that vertical mixed use. Whereas East Gate Main is focused more on keeping the historical nature in tact of this section here and really creating more of a community gathering space,” said College Station Project Manager Matthew Ellis.

College Station Police Chief Billy Couch made two presentations to the council surrounding excessive noise in Northgate and public safety issues that surround an ordinance allowing outdoor dining boxes that were put into place during the pandemic to keep businesses open by offering socially distant seating.

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Northgate Noise Regulations

The council voted unanimously to establish a sound level standard of 76 decibels from 10:01 p.m. to 6:59 a.m. for the Northgate Entertainment District. City staff says this move aims to strike a balance between nightlife and the comfort of nearby residents during nighttime hours.

Northgate Outdoor Dining Boxes

In a unanimous vote, the council also repealed an ordinance permitting outdoor dining boxes in Northgate. City leaders say they’re hoping to prevent public spaces from becoming obstructed, overly crowded with intoxicated individuals, and hindering emergency responses in the Northgate District.

Additional Agenda Items

Additionally, the council met in executive session to discuss the purchase or exchange of three properties. According to the meeting agenda, this includes approximately 28 acres of land generally located at Midtown Drive and Corporate Pkwy in the Midtown Business Park, property generally located west of Texas State Highway 6 and in between Harvey Road and Holleman Drive and property generally located in the area of FM 60, Boyett Street, Church Ave. and College Main Street were also discussed.

KBTX reached out to the city for comment on this agenda item, however, details regarding the timing of when these matters will be made public remain undisclosed.

The council also voted unanimously to approve the entire consent agenda:

  • A $107,684 purchase of firefighter protective clothing from NAFECO.
  • Excess liability and workers’ compensation insurance, property/boiler and machinery, auto property damage, commercial crime, cyber liability, unmanned aircraft liability, and property insurance policies for FY 24. FY24 premiums for all lines of coverage are not to exceed $1.36 million.
  • A $1.15 million interlocal agreement with the Texas A&M University System for aircraft rescue and firefighting personnel and equipment requirements, operational responsibilities, and command and control of the joint-use fire station facility at Easterwood Airport. The amount is to be paid to the city through FY 26.
  • The BVWACS FY 24 annual operating/maintenance and capital budget.
  • A $262,641.13 lease agreement with CTWP.
  • The rejection of all responses received for the Patricia Promenade area rehabilitation project.
  • An interlocal agreement with Brazos County for EMS ambulance service to the southern portion of Brazos County.
  • A resolution authorizing the chief of police to execute the application and any documents necessary to receive funding from the Victim Coordinator and Liaison Grant from the Office of the Texas Attorney General.
  • Participation in the MuniWatt program by joining the joint power purchase contract with the Municipal Energy Resources Corporation, Municipal Power Acquisition and Supply Corporation, and their agent, the City of La Grange.

You can find a comprehensive summary of Thursday’s meeting on the City of College Station’s blog.