San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance •  107 E. Hopkins St. Suite 121A; San Marcos, Texas 78666

The Loop


New Signs in Purgatory!

Before (left) and after (right)

Previously, trail names in the natural areas were engraved into cedar posts, with the lettering filled in with paint. For these signs, Todd Derkacz did all the engraving, while Diane Phalen usually did the painting. Because I have weird work hours, I’m unable to participate in the regular trail crew workdays. I wanted to do something significant for SMGA and the natural areas, though, so I came up with the idea of making placards for new signs. I have the specialty equipment required to do this, as well as the expertise, so I ordered some sample material and made up some prototypes for the Stewardship Committee to evaluate. StewCom voted unanimously to adopt the new sign and fund the purchase of new posts, as well as to put me in charge of the project. I, through my company, TurnTex, LLC, purchased and donated all the placard material, as well as the design time and machine time to make all the placards.  I also recruited, organized, and led the work crews to do the work in the field.

Curtis attaching a placard

The project to replace trail signs in Purgatory Natural Area was started in October 2020 with ordering material, which had a very long lead time. Next, I rode every trail in Purgatory and took pictures of each signpost. I then uploaded those photos to a custom Google map, which placed the pictures at their proper location based on GPS data. This allowed me to make a map identifying signpost numbers to make it easier to reference each location. Unfortunately, however, I broke my arm mountain biking in Purgatory in December 2020, which delayed the start of actual work quite a bit.  After my arm healed, we did a few replacements. But then I crashed again in June of 2021 and ended up with a bad shoulder separation. That took me out until toward the end of the year, but we finally started hitting it really hard at the beginning of 2022 and finished the last post April 29, 2022.

To summarize, these are the benefits of the new signpost design:

  • It frees up Todd to do more important things and takes something off his plate.
  • The new placards are made from a material that is intended for outdoor sign use. It is 50% recycled HDPE (milk jugs and similar projects) and is fade and vandal resistant
  • Paint does not stick well to HDPE, so graffiti is reduced. If someone does spray a sign with paint, it is easily removed with solvent, whereas previous posts would have to be totally replaced
  • If someone damages placards, they are easily re-made and installed.
  • Signs do not require re-painting and are maintenance free, other than in the case of the above mentioned vandalism.
  • The letters are thicker and easier to read from a distance due to better contrast between the letters and background.
  • Directions to parking areas are included on every post where possible.
  • All posts are now installed in rock cages to reduce maintenance. Many of the old posts were buried in the ground, causing the cedar to rot over time. Using rock cages allows the cedar to breathe, preventing rot and reducing maintenance.
  • Each post has a unique identifying number that corresponds to an icon on a map. This makes it easier to locate posts for future maintenance.
  • Each post has at least “SMGA” engraved on the bottom, and where possible, “San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance” is spelled out, along with our website address.

If you see a sign that is damaged or needs attention, please make a note of the number, and let me or the trail crew know so it can be easily identified and fixed.

Next up, we will begin the Spring Lake Signpost Replacement Project, which I will also be heading up and donating materials and labor. StewCom has voted to proceed, so I need to get materials ordered and start the design work.

Written by SMGA member, Curtis Seebeck.

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