There are many milestones and many opportunities converging in our community that will determine whether or not we will have the connectivity and the natural resources our community deserves. Together all these factors demand we see the big picture, work as collaborators and act decisively. We must achieve an integrated greenway system based on our rivers, creeks and recharge features, based on the widespread insistence on river and aquifer protection and based on the increased demand for bicycle and pedestrian facilities.
Greenways along rivers and creeks hold grass and tree cover, protect natural habitats, improve water quality and reduce the impacts of flooding in floodplain areas. Greenways with trails enhance existing recreational opportunities, provide routes for alternative transportation, and improve the overall quality of life in an area. San Marcos is ideal for an integrated, comprehensive greenways system both because of the opportunities it has with two rivers and several creeks and because of the serious need we have for watershed protection, health and safety. For more information, check out the American Trails webpage. http://www.americantrails.org/resources/benefits/index.html
Now is the time to plan for and begin piecing together our nascent greenway system.
Watershed studies have amassed enough science and technical information to make clearer what we need to do to protect our unique water resources. And every survey, every summit and every study conducted since the first paper survey was passed around over ten years ago confirms what we all know – build more bicycle and pedestrian facilities. We want to walk and bike and connect with each other for our civic activities but we want to do so safely, for our personal health and well being.
Add to that some opportunities. Our city is about to rewrite our comprehensive master plan, our land development code and our transportation master plan. These items will codify a vision that will influence how we participate as a community with those who would develop or redevelop properties beyond their current use. They direct funding for infrastructure and they will guide the business community in their decisions to create commerce, maintain value of assets and reduce risk.
The recent polarization of views related to the Sessom Creek area and neighborhoods near Holland Street would have some believe we could never collaborate as a community to create any plan that would serve both sets of interests let alone a greenway plan. The opposite is true. What both sides want is certainty. Where are the places we can be certain will remain stable? Where are the places we can develop? How will we protect our water resources and defend against flooding? Where can we build the infrastructure that supports our lifestyles?
We all need to be heard. Don’t expect to get served if you aren’t at the table. We may not all get what we want but if we get certainty based on a vision that goes past the current flashpoints, we can move forward. Greenways must be part of that vision.
SMGA has recently grown its Conservation Committee and will begin ramping up efforts toward a better vision, a better plan for our future – one that includes a greenway system. It’s time to see a bigger integrated picture, to collaborate and be bold.
– Todd Derkacz, SMGA Board President