Mayor goes 'live' at Starbucks

Marble Falls Mayor John Packer, right, answers questions from citizens on Feb. 10 when the Coffee with the Mayor series resumed at Starbucks. Bringing questions online, live, from the Marble Falls/Lake LBJ Chamber of Commerce are Erin Burks, director of marketing and tourism, left, and Tony Flores, digital and social media coordinator.

By Glynis Crawford Smith

The Highlander

Coffee with the Mayor drew more questions in the digital realm than actual takers for a free cup of Starbucks Feb. 10.

Since the informal chats with Marble Falls Mayor John Packer began last year, the coffee klatches have gone live on the Internet.

That may mean questions are a little more direct, but there was plenty of extra information gained.

“Well, 'When will Chick-fil-A open,' is the question I'm asked most often,” said Packer.

The answer to that—around the first of May—was shared with Christian Fletcher, executive director of the Marble Falls Economic Development Corporation.

Packer was more circumspect about the potential for a Panda Express for Marble Falls--“They have been looking at the area. However, he said work is set to begin soon on the new Burger King site on the southwest corner of the intersection of US 281 and Ranch to Market Road 1431.

The broadcast of the events is managed by Tony Flores and Erin Burks of the Marble Falls/Lake LBJ Chamber of Commerce feeds, live, to Facebook pages for the chamber and the city—VisitMarbleFallsTX for the chamber and MarbleFallsTX for the city. Each is linked to the main websites, www.marblefalls.org and www.marblefallstx.gov.

“people can ask questions in comment section of video feed and the mayor answers live,” said Burks, director of marketing and tourism, who welcomes Flores expertise as the chamber's new digital and social media coordinator.

Other pearls from the mayor was the backstory on the new proposed downtown apartment and business complex, The Lofts at 99 Main.

“That was a case where conversation with the developer was a good thing,” said Packer. “The project looks significantly different that what was first proposed.

“They first planned apartments limited to age 55; a taller building with a greater population density. We saw the market differently and once the developer saw what was going on here, they saw what the city really needs.”

Packer said the city has begun working closely with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) because TxDOT decisions have so much to do with life in the city.

“We decided to become a squeaky wheel,” he said. “Traffic on US 281 from the bridge north is a challenge.

“Construction is supposed to be let in August for widening Farm to Market Road 2147 to Texas 71. We want to watch what that will do to traffic.

From parks to the future of land where River View RV Park now sits (“Someone has purchased it”), Packer fielded questions to online queries.

Three more Coffee with the Mayor events are planned with free coffee at Starbucks. They will be Feb. 24, March 10 and March 24.

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