Ban on vendors at Texas City Dike lifted

March 27, 2011 8:40:54 PM PDT
A ban on vendors selling to Texas City Dike patrons has been lifted after more than two years. Businesses in the area are working to recover from the damage inflicted by Hurricane Ike more than two years ago. The dike reopened in September. Now, vendors are again allowed to sell to people who are out at the dike.

Before the hurricane, you'd see ice cream trucks driving along the dike during all hours. They were banned shortly after the storm.

Alex Lux has been selling ice cream out of his truck for 18 years -- 14 of them along the dike. That is, until Ike wiped away his business.

For the last two years, Lux resorted to driving his ice cream truck through neighborhoods; however, starting this weekend, he and at least three other ice cream vendors are back on the dike.

"It was something that needed to change. I think the city council realized that," Lux said.

Although the ban has been lifted, the rules have changed. Gone are the days of seeing vendors around all day and into the night. Now, that won't be the case.

Mobile vendors are now restricted to parking near one of 15 marked vendor stations -- no more roaming to pick up customers -- and they can only operate between 10am and 6pm. Plus, they're paying a $500 fee to sell goods along the dike -- in addition to the $500 they pay Texas City for a permit.

"I think everyone should have a shot at making a little business," Lux said.

John and Irma Moreno run Coach's Corner -- a sno cone and food stand that's been a staple at the entrance of the dike for more than 30 years.

Now, selling sno cones at full force after a two-year break from the dike, John Moreno says he welcomes competition.

"They see us first, and we're the last people they hit coming out," he said.

Meanwhile, Lux says he's just happy to be welcome at the dike again.

"We cool people off, we keep people relaxed and happy and that's what it's all about," he said.

His customers couldn't agree more.

"It's good. Get people back making some money," customer Patricia Rizo said.

"Look at him. He's hot," said customer Jeff Thompson, pointing to his son. "[The] ice cream truck came by. That's what it's about -- him having a good time. That's why we're here."

The 15 designated vendor spots are first-come-first-serve and the city's ordinance is specific about what can and cannot be sold along the dike. If any vendor violates the policy, they could have their permit revoked.