The San Marcos Parks, Recreation and Open Space Master Plan was finally adopted by city council on December 7th. It took well over a year to piece the plan together. A last minute request by SMGA and others to table the adoption in November to allow time for review of the final draft stretched the time a little further. We supported adoption in the end, after a list of questions and tweaks were addressed. The document is not perfect from SMGA’s perspective; perhaps our bar is set rather high. But, as a document that is required to capture the public sentiment for how we should grow and manage our parks and natural areas in the coming years, it was worth the wait. It replaces a plan that was woefully inadequate.
Connectivity, trails, and protection of natural resources figured high on the list of needs. A few large active parks are called for to serve certain sections of the city and, notably, there are strong suggestions to fund adequate operation and maintenance of our facilities.
We have submitted a request to have the new version of the plan posted on the city’s website. We were informed it would be posted just after the start of the New Year.
Council Members Kim Porterfield and Chris Jones had questions about the plan not clearly stating in specific detail what projects and programs should be on the ground. The plan does not provide clear direction for the Capitol Improvements Program, which is the basis for large sum infrastructure spending through borrowing and property taxation. David Beyer of Land Design Partners and William Ford of the Parks and Recreation Department explained that the plan provides guidelines for choosing what and where projects and programs should be put into place as well as how to organize and manage the operation and maintenance of the parks and natural areas we have. Identifying specific projects and locations has yet to be addressed.
SMGA helps fill the deficit one might perceive in the master plan with a clear proposal that we generally refer to as the Loop & Check (http://www.smgreenbelt.org/About.htm). We advocate connecting existing natural areas and parks with a greenbelt trail system that supports healthy recreation and at the same time protects creeks, water recharge zones and floodplains. Protected corridors keep our natural areas biologically diverse and help keep our community healthy, providing clean air and water, educational opportunities, and beauty. A robust greenbelt system will make us the envy of neighboring communities, help sustain our economic vitality, and position us to connect to the regional trail system rapidly taking shape in northeastern Hays County with the Violet Crown Trail.
Learn more about the Violet Crown trail at http://www.hillcountryconservancy.org/land-projects/walk-for-a-day-trail/. Be sure to click on the inset map near the bottom of the page and then imagine that trail connecting to the Five Mile Dam park system and continuing down the Blanco to the San Marcos and up to Rio Vista and City Park…[sigh]…what a sweet dream that is. With your support through voice and vote and your support for SMGA, you will someday walk that trail.
By Todd Derkacz, SMGA Vice President