The City of San Marcos Parks and Recreation Board recently received a presentation of a draft version of the City of San Marcos Parks Master Plan. David Beyer of Land Design, LLC presented portions of the plan over three meetings in June, July and August. The plan is not complete, but its main points and supportive data have been developed and give a rather clear idea of what our planners believe should be included in the final plan.
Two general types of studies were conducted to determine the needs in San Marcos, standard based and demand based. The standard-based method uses established average standards for a city our size, based primarily on population, to determine how many elements or how much programming should be in place. Using this method here is a partial list of what the city would need:
- Activity center
- 4 baseball fields
- 5 softball fields
- 6 playgrounds
- 1 more pool
- 17 tennis courts
- 10 miles of trail (though the National Recreation and Parks Association has no standard)
Of course what works on average doesn’t always satisfy the people who live in a community. Topography varies, demographics differ and then there are the preferences of those who will be paying for and using the facilities and programs.
The other method is to communicate with the people of the community to determine what they want. The demand method in this case involved five public meetings in the summer of 2008, surveys taken at five city sponsored events like Movies in the Park or the summer concerts series, and approximately 1,000 surveys randomly mailed out. About 705 surveys were tabulated using this method; here are some results:
- Top four requested activities: Hike/Bike Trails, Natural/Interpretive Areas, Restrooms, Camping
- Respondents would rather spend money to improve/maintain existing parks rather than develop new parks
- 52% favor passive park development over active parks (22%)
- 62% would possibly pay for facilities through taxes or public/private partnerships
- The top three program requested activities: Nature-based, Fitness, and Water-based
- Provide multiple age-appropriate centers throughout city, rather than fewer large facilities
Top Five Requested Activities/Amenities
- Natural Areas
- Hike / Bike Trails
- River access
- Tennis Courts
Preliminary 2009 Prioritization [Note the word preliminary]
1) Trails (connections to existing trails and rivers/creeks)
2) Acquisition of p
3) Acquisition of parkland and development of facilities east of I-35
4) Athletic fields west of I-35 along McCarty Lane
5) Community park development west of I-35 and near downtown
6) Passive park development along San Marcos River
7) Passive park development along Blanco River
8) Development of multiple age-appropriate activity centers
I know many of you are interested in trails so here is the preliminary map (that means it is a draft and must survive the planning and zoning commission and the city council). This map may be tough to view on this blog but perhaps it is better than nothing.
And, here is the prioritization of needs for trail development.
- San Marcos River Corridor
- Blanco River Corridor
- Post Road
- Hopkins Road Corridor
- Wonder World Drive / RR12 (West)
- River Road / Staples Street (East)
- Downtown Connectors
- Greenspace Corridors (ie. Purgatory Creek)
Okay, so that is plenty of info to process and there is much more that was presented; this is only a small portion. Based on the results of the survey and the identified needs/recommendations, SMGA membership values were reflected in the draft plan.
There are a few concerns to bear in mind.
- This is not the final version. If you think there are elements that need to survive the next reviews or that are missing from this plan, send a message to your planning and zoning commission and the city council.
- Conservation of natural areas sometimes falls under the purpose of watershed, recharge or habitat protection. Trails sometimes fall under the heading of transportation infrastructure. So one should not think that the only reason for creating these facilities is recreation. Think big picture and combined resources.
- We need to think beyond the “zero sum” mind set. Those individuals who want more playgrounds and soccer fields do not help their interests as well as they might if they only argue for a specific type of facility. Combining resources, such as playgrounds and trails, in the same space is a great way to push for all types of recreation and park use. The master plan is about improving our community’s livability and our quality of life in order to keep all of us healthy and happy. We would do better to support each others’ interests. The city has spent significant amounts under the heading of economic development. Improving the spending under the heading recreation, cultural and ecological development is equally important.
- We should be sure to plan for the regional interconnection of greenways for the sake of trails, transportation, water quality and habitat interconnection.