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The Mashup

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I’ve run into a wide variety of people in the past week who are in mourning for the demise of Esquire, the real bar, which has been closed for its makeover into Esquire, the family-friendly barbeque joint

From the Editor


I’ve run into a wide variety of people in the past week who are in mourning for the demise of Esquire, the real bar, which has been closed for its makeover into Esquire, the family-friendly barbeque joint. By “wide variety” I mean people like me, who ventured there maybe once a year but who nonetheless recognized in its nicotine-stained walls and tall, anonymity-granting booths a vestige of downtown San Antonio’s rapidly vanishing soul. Before long, the River Walk will be a thoroughly bi-polarized wonderland, where you can swing from the high-highs of 20-something binge drinking at Coyote Ugle to the low-lows of portaging a stroller through the River Bend, irritated in-laws in tow, on your way to an overpriced, mediocre meal. OK, it’s that already, and now no Esquire — “the best old-man’s bar I’ve seen” as a world-weary friend described it.

World-weariness is one of the best arguments I can think of for maintaining non-family-friendly bars. Maybe I’m more prone to existential crises than your average church-goer, but I think that if we all spent more time contemplating the state of the world without rose-colored glasses, we’d spend a little more time seeking the comfort of human company that’s organized around no other principle than human company.

Also, since the City Council has decided to let the developers-formerly-known-as-Lumbermen’s buy Edwards Aquifer water from a third party to irrigate the PGA golf course its building on the North Side, beer and wine may be all there is to drink in San Antonio in a few years. My favorite quote of the decidedly low-key local media coverage came from this page-three (Metro section) Express-News story: “Council members warned this is the last time they will look favorably upon making changes to the plan.” Since half the term-limited council will be on the street next spring, that’s probably true.

On which note, let’s ask whether our term-limited councilmembers ought to show a little more bravura — morphing from lame ducks to cornered ’possums — and ask some tough questions. Forestar Real Estate, as the company is now known, went to SAWS in September to ask for a change in its water permit because it suddenly realized that recycling Trinity Aquifer water as originally specified would cause salinity problems. Golf-course-irrigation salinity problems are hardly new news, especially in areas like San Antonio where water resources are scarce and wise populations decide to reserve the potable water for poting. I’m not suggesting it’s not a real problem — if Forestar installs an impermeable clay barrier to protect the aquifer from runoff, the salination collects above that layer, damaging and killing roots of surface plants; if it doesn’t install the barrier, the extra-saline water can contaminate our drinking water — but potential solutions have been studied, such as using salt-leaching and drought-tolerant grasses and sprinkle-irrigation systems. “Our results show that these new clean techniques are a strong and powerful tool to control salinity and to avoid soil salination and to maintain sustainability of golf courses,” reads the abstract to one study performed on courses in the Mediterranean region.

I understand that it would take a little time to determine how to solve the salinity problem, but since the project got an extension anyway …

And, sure, finding a way to work with the original approved water source might have cost a little more money, but what the council opted to do was to subsidize Forestar by making it a competitor (or profiteer, since it can sell the extra to us) for water that’s already priced beyond our means — or at least that’s what SAWS CEO David Chardavoyne seemed to be saying when, at the same meeting SAWS approved Forestar’s request, he rejected two third-party bids to sell the City Edwards Aquifer rights for being too expensive.

But, hey, we’re getting another park — 130 linear acres — on the North Side.

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