San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

October 6th, 2009
Feds resist shooting range on habitat

Left to right, Hays County Parks and Open Space Advisory Board President Chris North, Hays County Precinct 2 Commissioner Jeff Barton, Texas Shooting Sports Complex President Stephen Marlow and Precinct 4 Commissioner Karen Ford at a recent meeting to draft an application to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Photo by Sean Batura.

News Reporter

Those seeking to co-locate a 380-acre shooting range facility with endangered bird habitat in Hays County may have encountered a setback.

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (Fish and Wildlife) recently signaled its reluctance to approve such a co-location for coverage under the county’s pending Regional Habitat Conservation Plan (RHCP). The plan is intended to protect endangered-species habitat while streamlining the development of land inhabited by endangered bird species.

“I keep hearing these rumors that Hays County is looking to purchase a parcel that would serve as both a habitat preserve pursuant to the RHCP and firing range,” wrote Allison Arnold of Fish and Wildlife’s Austin ecological services field office in a Sept. 30 email to two county commissioners, the county’s consultant Loomis Partners, Inc., Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPW) officials and other Fish and Wildlife officials. “If there is any truth to this, I think it would be wise to have a discussion about it before anyone makes any fiduciary committments (sic). The Service generally does not support this type of arrangement despite the arguements (sic) folks present about Fort Hood and Camp Bullis. Those are both very unique circumstances and the firing ranges were a pre-existing condition of the property i.e. were in use prior to listing the golden-cheeked warbler. I would greatly appreciate any clarification of this issue.”

Last week, county officials drafted a call for RHCP projects. The document’s cover letter explicitly lists a property’s suitability for the shooting facility among the county’s priorities. Other priorities specified in the cover letter include “habitat and endangered species preservation, water quality and aquifer protection, public access to water features and open space” and potential for hike and bike trails.

Members of the county’s Parks and Open Space Advisory Board (POSAB) and the San Marcos River Foundation also have expressed reservations about the idea of locating a shooting complex on habitat land.

Hays County Grants Administrator Jeff Hauff said last week that Fish and Wildlife has not officially signaled its intention to withhold approval of RHCP land acquisitions involving a shooting sports complex. Fish and Wildlife must approve every parcel of RHCP land proposed for acquisition by the county before the county can obtain mitigation credits for preserved habitat.

The RHCP calls for the county to eventually acquire or create conservation easements for between 10,000 and 15,000 acres of protected land for the Golden-Cheeked Warbler or Black-Capped Vireo. If Fish and Wildlife approves the RHCP, the federal government will issue an incidental take permit to the county. The incidental take permit would would enable the county to sell mitigation credits to private and public entities wishing to engage in activities that might cause harm, or “take,” to the Warbler or Vireo. The county would use the money gained from mitigation credit sales to buy more Warbler or Vireo habitat land and sell more credits.

Fish and Wildlife awarded the county a $753,750 grant to help develop the RHCP. The county provided $251,250 in matching funds. The county has paid $239,121.61 in consultant fees to develop the RHCP. Fish and Wildlife must approve the RHCP before the plan can be implemented.

Hays County Precinct 2 Commissioner Jeff Barton (D-Kyle) had proposed locating the shooting facility at Dahlstrom Ranch, a 2,275-acre tract of aquifer recharge land over which the county is working with the City of Austin and the Hill Country Conservancy (HCC) to acquire a conservation easement with provisions for public access. But Austin and HCC have nixed the SCC from the plans for Dahlstrom Ranch, according to the nonprofit organization Texas Shooting Sports Complex (TXSSC), which is spearheading the effort to build shooting facility C in Hays County. Barton said recently that only hiking and biking will probably be allowed on the 350-acre portion of Dahlstrom Ranch intended for public access.

Commissioners have charged the POSAB with determining which projects or properties will be worthy of the remaining bond money. The county must buy or acquire conservation easements for at least 500 qualified habitat acres to kick off the RHCP. The county may acquire the 500 acres as one parcel of land or as multiple adjacent properties.

The county will pay for the land or easements, or fund proposed projects, using most of the remaining approximately $8.5 million in parks and open space bond money of the original $30 million that voters approved in 2007.

The commissioners court set aside $50,000 of the parks and open space bond money for development of the Parks and Open Space Master Plan, which may be completed within a year and a half. About $600,000 of the remaining bond funds may be used for recreation projects.

Ever since the county began expending parks and open space bond funds for projects, POSAB members have complained that too much bond money went to recreation projects, which, they claimed, was a deviation from the bond language as it appeared on the ballot. The argument grew so intense that POSAB’s earlier incarnation — the Citizens Parks Advisory Team (CPAT) — threatened in February to disband itself, after which commissioners reorganized the advisory board and maintained a moratorium on allocating remaining $8.5 million in bond funds. The moratorium was effectively lifted on Friday.

Hays County Judge Liz Sumter (D-Wimberley) said last month that about $8 million in bond funds have been used so far for projects related to preserving water quality ($3 million for the Jacob’s Well project and $5.25 million for the Dahlstrom Ranch conservation easement).

Said POSAB member Todd Derkacz to commissioners last month, “The (POSAB) board members, within their own circles, were getting a lot of push-back for the way the spending had gone towards recreation so heavily up front, and many of their friends and contacts and people who called were wondering, ‘Hey, where’s the habitat, where’s the water quality – that’s what a lot of people were voting for.’”

Barton and Hays County Precinct 3 Commissioner Will Conley (R-San Marcos) pushed the hardest last month for co-locating the SCC with the RHCP kickoff land.

“For every person who tells me that they voted for the bonds because they wanted open space, I have at least one person tell me they voted for the bonds because they wanted soccer fields,” Barton said. “I think it was a broad-based coalition. That’s why we got 70 percent, is because they were people who thought we would address multiple needs.”

Hays County Commissioner Precinct 4 Karen Ford (D-Dripping Springs) and Barton sat on the subcommittee that drafted the cover letter to Fish and Wildlife. Court members appointed Derkacz to the committee, though he did not attend its only meeting, which occurred on Sept. 22 after the regularly-scheduled commissioners court meeting that day. POSAB President Chris North of San Marcos attended the cover letter committee meeting, the existence of which she was unaware until after it had started. The meeting was not publicized.

Sumter said the court should focus on the county’s stated goal of prioritizing water quality, habitat conservation and water access for the remaining bond funds, though she supported co-location if the other priorities could be met first. Conley responded that no one had proposed using a property’s fitness for shooting ranges as a primary consideration, but that shooting range compatibility ought to be inserted into the scoring criteria for use in judging potential land and projects for bond funding. At the cover letter committee meeting later that day, Barton and Marlow attempted unsuccessfully to alter the scoring criteria to more easily accommodate the proposed shooting facility.

Before the commissioners court signed off on POSAB’s scoring criteria, they discussed co-locating the proposed shooting facility with the RHCP kick-off land. POSAB responses to the court’s interest in co-locating the facility with bird habitat ranged from “I’m just aghast” (North on Sept. 22), and “There is a bit of a blindside to that” (Derkacz on Sept. 15).

“It’s not to say that we’d be necessarily opposed to co-location, it’s just that it seemed like a rather late entry to suddenly give weight to,” Derkacz said. “I think it’s something that (POSAB members) would not feel confident about, let me just put it that way. But I don’t speak for them.”

After hearing court members discuss the possibility of co-locating aquifer recharge land and bird habitat with 380 acres of shooting ranges, San Marcos River Foundation President Diane Wassenich told commissioners, “I’m just in shock.”

Conley responded that some residents might be shocked to learn that the county might be spending taxpayer dollars to buy habitat land, some of which may end up being off-limits to the public. Pursuant to the RHCP, Fish and Wildlife will prohibit “active uses” such as bicycling, dog walking, horseback riding, swimming, boating, tubing, rafting, fishing, picnicking, camping, and rock-climbing, among other uses in areas of potential Warbler and Vireo habitat.

“I have to tell you, I do not feel comfortable with the bond money — in the way we presented the parks and open space bond — of having that money go for a shooting sports complex,” said Ford. “I worry about the public perception of that and the fact that if that happens, that the people who are out there waiting for us to have natural areas and open spaces to enjoy, and for birds and for water quality (protection), and we end up with three or four hundred acres of a shooting sports complex — that they are going to feel duped.”

Conley said the bond language does not rule out shooting ranges. Hays County Precinct 1 Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe (D-San Marcos) echoed Ford’s concerns, but did not oppose using parks and open space bond money for the shooting facility.

“If we can’t find that co-location, that means we need to find monies,” Conley said. “Our shooting range committee has gone out and found partners to develop and to design and to operate the facility. What they need from us is land … and this is a way in which we can provide it … without putting an additional burden on the taxpayers of Hays county … And to be quite frank with you, I believe that if (funding for the shooting facility) doesn’t come out of these dollars, (then the shooting facility is) just a lot of talk. And until somebody wants to identify some money, then I believe that’s all that it is.”

The Shooting Sports Task Force, whose members were appointed by the commissioners court in January, presented a business plan to the court on June 23 that called for the costs of the construction, operation and maintenance of a multi-disciplinary, educational, safety training, shooting facility to be borne by TXSSC and related clubs through user fees, range and course fees, special events and grants. In January, commissioners discussed the possibility of using parks and open space bond money for the shooting facility, though they made no commitments.

“I’m expecting to tread very lightly on the land, which is not typical of most ranges,” said TXSSC President Stephen Marlow at the cover letter committee meeting. “Most ranges start out wanting to clear everything. I would like to see everything left as natural as possible simply because it’s nicer to look at that way, and it costs a whole lot to do it another way … We’re concerned about lead containment. Actually, part of (the shooting facility’s) income will be picking up the (lead) shot. So we’ll have a central shot field, and that will be picked up and recycled every few years.”

Barton said “other social considerations outside the realm of parks” that are “equally important” make it reasonable to consider using bond funds for the shooting facility.

“We had a seven-year-old child shot off his trampoline and killed in his backyard,” Barton said, referring to an incident in April 2007 involving a boy shot by a man alleged to have been target shooting in his backyard. “I don’t apologize to anybody for taking that into consideration … when we have repeated reports of unsafe shooting across the county.”

The POSAB will hold an open meeting Wednesday at the San Marcos Activity Center (7 p.m.).

“I think (co-location of shooting facility and RHCP land is) a great opportunity for a win-win and for different factions in our community to come together under a common cause,” Conley said.

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46 thoughts on “Feds resist shooting range on habitat

  1. To the representatives of United States Fish and Wildlife Service and all citizens of Hays County, I respectfully submit the following:

    First, let me state that I am serving on the Hays County Task Force to find land for this project. As important as it is to protect our wildlife and aquifers, the protection of our citizens who live in Hays County and surrounds is even more important. Thousand of our residents own guns. It has been projected that at least 50% (I believe it is more like 80% to 90%)of households in Hays County have a firearm.

    What better use of our tax dollars is there than to provide our adults and especially our children and adolescents with the education and skills to safely and properly handle a firearm, or in the case of a child to not handle it, leave the area and go tell an adult. We need to be able to have a safe place where people can be taught the rules of safe firearm handling and use, safe hunting practices and to provide a safe place to enjoy the shooting sports for families.

    Whether a person likes guns or not, they are a part of our heritage and social makeup. Millions of new guns have been purchased in our country in the last year and there is a dirth of safe places where those new owners can go to learn about the safe use of their new firearm. For the safety of all, those who don’t own a gun should want those who do to have the knowledge of how to safely handle and use it. It seems to me that “safe shooting” should be just as much a priority as safe driving.

    Lets open our minds to the fact that, as with all inanimate objects like chain saws, drills, skill saws and all tools that are dangerous if not used properly, guns are simply tools to be used for specific purposes. It is important for the owners of firearms to know how to properly use them.

    It is time that we the citizens of Hays County step up to the table and provide a safe place to shoot.

    Herman F. Waters, Jr.

  2. To me this looks like a johnnie-come-lately thing. no one ever said anything about shooting ranges when we were voting on the bond money. I think a real evaluation of how many users of the different things we want to do on park land and the amount that various uses intefere with other uses would show that a dispoportionate amount of money would go to shooting. If its such a good idea then why does this orginization need public money ? Let them buy their own land. A lot peoples idea of out door recreation involves something to do with quiet countryside. that is one thing totally destroyed by a shooting range. no hiking, birdwatching, pickniking or anything else without the constant barrage of noise. anyone who can not see how incompatable these land uses are must be deaf. This noise would also spillover into previously quiet rural neighborhoods and would be a measurable degradation in their quality of life. the resulting lawsuits would take money that could instead be used to buy more parkland. I did not vote for shooting ranges when I voted for the parks bonds.

  3. Because we have no action items on our agenda for tomorrow night’s (Wednesday) scheduled meeting of the HCPOB, we have decided to cancel. The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Parks and Open Space Advisory Board is November 4, 2009 at 7:00 pm at the San Marcos Activity Center.
    Chris North, Chair

  4. I think a real evaluation of how many users of the different things we want to do on park land and the amount that various uses intefere with other uses would show that a dispoportionate amount of money would go to SKATEBOARDING, MT BIKING, or SOCCER. If its such a good idea then why do those orginizations need public money ? Let them buy their own land.

  5. Mr. Waters, I too have guns. I was well trained on how to use guns when I became a State Trooper in 1972. I appreciate their value. I do not understand why you and others are determined you are going to stick a gun range where it will disturb citizens, nature and the peace and quiet that most folks desire. If you want a gun range in your backyard then submit your address and indicate your willingness to the committee working on this. Personally, I think someone ought to buy land next to everyone on the committee that wants to put a gun range in some of the areas under consideration and put a pig farm or a dirt bike track in. I have absolutely nothing against guns except that they make lots of noise. DPS relocated it’s range to Florence a couple of years ago and I will make you a substantial wager that those neighbors wish it had gone elsewhere. This is not about American traditions or values, rather it is about government competing with existing ranges Private Enterprise) and wasting taxpayer dollars and ruining the quality of life for voters. Respectfully, Charles Soechting

  6. Refreshing to see such a well-crafted & thoughtful post, isn’t it? I, too, thank you Mr. Soechting; Newstreamz could use more like you.

  7. Mr.Waters-“It is time that we the citizens of Hays County step up to the table and provide a safe place to shoot.”
    No, I disagree that it’s the “citizens” duty to provide a safe place to shoot gun. If that’s what you want, (My belief: Guns and shooting ranges are not ‘needs’ in Economic 101 sense.) then persuade a business to come in and provide the service with their own dime. (That will be your next battle- Who wants that in their neighborhood?) Good for feds for not handing out tax $$$ earmarked for parks. A shooting range marketed as a park to be enjoyed by many? And near an endangered species preserve and hiking trails? Are we being ‘punked’? Where’s the camera!

  8. I have read the posts above and find that most, including Mr.Soechting are posting comments without knowing the facts, the location and benefits to Hays County. This is a large tract with only about 1/5 allocated to Shotgun,pistol and Rifle ranges. These very well done plans are to be of benefit to Law enforcement, Texas Parks and Wilflife, The 4H Clubs(yes, they have a very active program),and the Boy Scouts.The noise levels will not be disturbing and the safety will be a non issue. Drive down to the National Skeet and Sporting Clays Range this week and watch 1500 Skeet competitors professional perform and you will then have a realistic rather than reactionary opinion. There are 25 million Hunters and Sporting Arms competitors in the United States and you will be surprised at the need and usage in this County.Get the facts please before you overreact.

  9. the facts are that we dont need it. We didnt vote for it. you can not have this land use and habitat preservation togather. The cost far exceeds the benefit. To say that noise, safety and liability will not be an issue is absloutely not true. Shooting from Camp Bullis in Bexar county can be heard more than several miles away. The bottom line here is that compared to the other users who will be excluded from park land, this will only benefit a very small number of people. instead of acting like other posters on this blog and saying a bunch of stuff that is all made up, or just personal conjecture, how about some numbers ? where are the engineering studies certifying this is safe ? what are the costs of the land, of the insurance needed by the county, of the trained staff that will be needed to run this place ? How much is it going to bring in and how long till it pays for itself. First I want to know, how many other counties in Texas have similar facilities in their parks program ? There is absloutely no way a shooting range can be compatiable with habitat or watershed preserve. You people who think it can be need to find properly licensed environmental specialists who are willing to certify that, otherwise your just grown up “kids in the playground” making noise that doesnt mean anything. TCEQ has a list of land uses that are prohibited from the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone. It will probabaly not be too hard to gather sufficient documentation to get large scale shooting ranges included on that list.

  10. OK Mr. Stallones, According to Steve Marlow one of the locations being considered is in mine and a lot of others very near backyard. This is a residential area that my neighbors and I share with some of the following 1. First Christian Church 2. St. Mark’s Episcopal Church (nearing completion) 3. The Pentocostal Church 4. San Marcos Baptist Academy 5. The Settlement 6. Fox Ridge (where I live) 7. Willow Creek 7.The Ridge and others. Just try and imagine how easy it will be to get petitions signed at the above. Call the San Marcos Police Department and it will tell you that it recieves complaints from miles around when it shoots. You and your shooting friends are going to have to accept the fact that you are not going to be allowed to disrupt other people’s lives. If you want to shoot, and you say in a post earlier this year that what drew you to this area were the shooting ranges in San Antonio, New Braunfels and Austin then why not go down to the National Skeet and Sporting Clays Range and the others and shoot until you’ve shot enough. Just go get it out of your system. As for me and a lot of others, I continue to believe that people ought to put a pig farm next to every one of you on the committee and any commissioner who would support such a crazy waste of taxpayer money. This country is struggling financially. Our county struggles to pay for the necessities, things like adequate salaries for it’s employees, roads, public safety and basics. As for me and a lot of others your competitive shooting range ranks a very distant last and is nowhere near a priority. I’ve heard your group has some money so why don’t you go find a realtor and a good piece of land (preferably flat or in a quarry removed from neighbors)where you won’t bother anyone because I can promise you one thing—you have awaken a lot of neighbors and you won’t be one of ours—EVER. Best of luck.

  11. Proposition 2 was for “The issuance of $30,000,000 of Hays County Tax Bonds for parks, natural areas, open space, and related projects, and the preservation of water quality,aquifer recharge areas, and wildlife habitat, and the levying of a tax in payment thereof.”

    I understand the neighbors concerns and wouldn’t want a shooting range in my backyard either. But as to Andy G’s idea that he didn’t vote for it — by approving the above Rorschach bond language, you voted for almost anything. If it had said “..related parks which preserve water quality, aquifer recharge areas…” the bond purchases would be different. Next time, I hope voters demand some specificity and only give our elected heroes the discretion you trust them to exercise.

  12. I like the old quarry idea – we’ve got plenty of them here around Kyle. And quite frankly, we’ve gotten kind of used to loud blasts – I can set my clock by when the dynamite charges go off every day.

  13. “Next time, I hope voters demand some specificity and only give our elected heroes the discretion you trust them to exercise.”

    I wouldn’t hold my breath. The trend seems to be in the opposite direction.

  14. I don’t mean to sound too odellian, but you have to wonder why the judge and commissioners are even entertaining this proposition. Many reasons why this is a poor proposition are listed in the posts above. In addition, there clearly is a vocal opposition to the shooting range. USFWS and other stake holders will likely rebuff the idea as well.
    The larger issue that needs to be addressed and made clear to the commissioners concerns how the bond money has been spent. It could have been used to purchase a couple of very large tracts that could fulfill all of the goals of the parks bond initiative. Instead, we’re down to $8.5 million and very little to show for it. We could have started a system of parks/greenbelts/habitat similar to Austin/Travis Co.
    Derkacz says it nicely in the article, “many of their friends and contacts and people who called were wondering, ‘Hey, where’s the habitat, where’s the water quality – that’s what a lot of people were voting for.’”

    Every morning I drive past an 844 acre tract that has been for sale for years. It is EARZ and has black capped vireos on it and very likely warblers as well. It is adjacent to San Marcos city limits, so the city might be willing to chip in. There’s even an abandoned quarry down the street…

  15. How soon we forget. The reason Commissioners Court is considering this is because a young boy lost his life when someone was target practicing in the backyard. People forget just how far a bullet can travel. While I may not agree with this particular site, we are fortunate to have a Court that takes the loss of life seriously – and seems to understand the transitional place we’re at between being a rural and an urban county.

    That said, I think we have gotten a lot of good out of the bond money too. It’s been spread around the County to a lot of different parks and many people have been able to benefit from it. Even if people don’t agree on how it should have been spent – taxpayers have benefitted. And in many cases, the money was matched by cities.

  16. Jason,
    Great new word. “I don’t mean to sound too odellian.” O’Dellian can be used in many different ways but most people will immediately snap to the meaning.

    Your new word is so marvelous that you have me violate my own don’t feed the trolls rule.

  17. Maybe we should have a contest to see how many different ways (noun, verb, adjective, etc…) that O’Dellian can be used in every day speech.

    That is so O’Dellion.

    That is such an O’Dellion rule.

    How could you be such an O’Dell?

    Oh Dude, that’s just an O’Dellion.

    I think you all get the idea. Go for it.

  18. Anybody ever mention an indoor, or combination indoor/outdoor range? I believe there are a few in the area that are indeed sited in quarries or similar structures in areas more or less removed from earshot of near neighbors, and with the firing lines enclosed or bunkered, with additional barriers or windbreaks to damp the racket.

    These can be both very useful and handy to the casual shooter or the person tuning up for hunting season. So far as I know, Hays shooters now go to at least four neighboring counties to practice and do their other business.

    As ranges go, the SMPD range is not even horribly intrusive, and it is certainly safe, secure, and fairly comfortable to use, unless the shooters bring their large cannons or demand shooting lanes unnecessarily long for ordinary competition and practice. (Which among us MUST have a half-mile downrange shot?) Bunkering and/or berming aren’t that expensive, and none of the logistical characteristics above cry out for heavy terrain or actual game in the area. A club-like atmosphere with general rules for safe practice makes a very popular recreation spot and potentially a good business location for suppliers, smiths etc.

    Obviously requires some serious, well-planned security. The “Old” Academy (West Campus off RR12) had for a long time a sheltered .22 training range, tucked away quite inconspicuously right on the campus. And to top it, if shots go into a dirt or similar backstop, or a modern mechanical one, lead pollution is easily enough dealt with.

    The only reason I could imagine for the County to pay the freight is either to meet its own training needs, or as a minor facilitator in setting up at a location not suited to a better or competing use, such as a nature preserve.

  19. When I read Soechting’s posts I am reminded of the old George Carlin skit about NIMBY – “Not in My Back Yard”.

    If it were up to some people, nothing would ever be built within ten miles of them. Lila makes a good point about our area being in transition from rural to urban. People need to stop thinking of San Marcos as a “small town” and start thinking in terms of (and I hate to use this phrase) “smart growth”….because one way or another, growth is happening in San Marcos. Those who sit back and yell “no” at everything that comes down the rail are just in denial of that fact.

    Do you really believe that this project would be planned without a thought for protecting the “peace” of the surrounding neighborhoods? Most ranges I have seen in populated areas have really nice sound-deadening measures in place. The real picture would be a far cry from the Rambo-esqe picture some would try to paint of this proposed range.

    The point about a shooting range and a wildlife preserve not being good bedfellows is to me the most valid one made here. It’s also a good argument if you’re opposed to this being done on the taxpayer’s dime. The rest is just NIMBY posturing.

  20. Look, I haven’t really been keeping up with this issue (I’m a natural born Annie Oakley – I don’t have to practice) – but I seem to recall that the County was just going to help with land. The group putting this together was actually going to fund the construction and operations of the facility. But hey, I could be wrong. It just seems we always assume government is on the wrong track. Guess you could call it an “Odellian assumption of guilt.”

  21. Dano, re: “Do you really believe that this project would be planned without a thought for protecting the “peace” of the surrounding neighborhoods?”

    A lot of the NIMBY in the area is because of a history of doing just that, at least in San Marcos.

  22. It is a shame, because with a better relationship between the citizens and the government, we could do some really great things in this area.

  23. Dano, of course this is part NIMBY. I know that I was being clear on that, but not just my back yard, but those of thousands of other citizens. How do you think the churchgoers will feel on a Sunday morning having to listen to this racket? If there are already ranges built then support them. Ted, John, Lily, Billy, Jason, Charlie and everyone who uses your real name when you post comments. You too Herman and Leighton. It’s good to have a discussion with real people than someone who hides behind a “handle”. Dano, just to be sure, you are right, this is a huge NIMBY issue for a lot of us and just as much it is a huge financial issue as well.

  24. Charles, I can’t fault people for using anonymous handles, except when they launch personal attacks from the shelter of those handles. I can think of a dozen valid reasons not to use one’s full name on here. What if you have one of the few good jobs in San Marcos and your boss is on the other side of many issues you comment on?

    Whatever the reason for the handle, Dano’s comments (IMO) are no less valid because of his anonymity. I just disagree that NIMBY is necessarily irrational or unreasonable.

    Living in a neighborhood where the city rezoned adjoining property, creating problems that have severely impacted the quality of life here for YEARS (soon to be decades) and regularly entertains requests to do more of the same, I think a certain level of skepticism and pushback is very reasonable.

  25. Dano is my handle because it’s my name (well, it’s Dan). I happen to feel that it’s not wise to throw your full given name out there on the web….so you’re not going to get my full name or anything else personal about me on here. You’ll just have to get by on the natural charm and wit in my posts. 🙂

    While we’re at it, how do I know that you’re really Charles Soechting? Just because it says so on your posts? It would take me about five seconds to post something under that name. The fact that some post their “real names” means nothing on the web because this site doesn’t require a login. Unless they change that, you’re going to have to get past the hangup over the name issue and focus on the content of the posts.

    Now to the topic:

    Do you think a government-run shooting range will be operating on a Sunday morning? If so, it would be about the only government-run operation doing so. In fact, I would bet that 90% of the activity (and thus the noise) at this range would be during business hours when the majority of residents are off at work.

    Besides, you’re ignoring my point that most ranges in settled areas use various noise-dampening measures to minimize the racket. I’ve been 500 feet from ranges (in use) before and I could barely tell they were even there.

  26. Speaking of “handles” and posting, it has come to my attention that our Mayor, very recently introduced an initiative at City Hall to actually level charges against Newstreamz with the Ethics Commission, concerning the “problem” of citizens posting their opinions in this forum, under anonymous pseudonyms.

    This measure was actually voted on by City Council, and was fortunately defeated by a vote of 5 to 2 (Narvaiz, Bose).

    This speaks volumes for both the effect (for better or for worse) that these postings are having on our elected officials, as well as serving as an indicator of their level (or lack) of respect and desire to protect the right of our citizens to engage in constitutionally guaranteed free speech.

    If there is an issue that our Mayor of any Council member disagrees with, then I would say that they are certainly at liberty to appear on this forum (like the rest of us) and comment on, or counter any and all statements, assumptions or inconsistencies that may appear.

    But DO NOT engage in an underhanded attempt to squelch free speech and commentary, even though it may not flatter your manipulative dealings and the dealings of those professional politicians who come up in this public forum, for discussion.

    That is a fight that you are guaranteed to lose, and you will suffer considerable and perhaps irreparable collateral damage, to boot.

    That is a promise.

  27. I’m with you “B”. The day politicians consider their electorate’s opinions – whether presented under real names, “handles”, or whatever format – to be a “problem” is the day that we know that we need new politicians in office.

    Narvaiz’ actions portray a politician who knows that her shelf life is about to expire in her current office. Her actions since re-election have already cost her much of the support that helped her win the election. One has to wonder what will be next….

  28. This is the second time in recent memory that discussions of issues has been deemed to be a problem. Recall the concerns about “leaked” information about Springtown.

    I certainly hope there is more to this story and/or B. Franklin has misunderstood something, because as it stands, it sounds like a very significant attempt to move even further away from open dialog and transparency. If there were libelous statements being made, one could easily subpoena any records required to address any legal issues.

    This sounds more like wanting to compile a list of people who have spoken against someone, which sounds like there may be some retribution down the road, perhaps in the form of support for certain people’s issues drying up.

    If that is the case, it pretty much answers the question of why anyone would post anonymously, doesn’t it?

  29. B-If there was a vote on an item as you say, it will/would have appeared on an agenda, on TV and offically recorded with the City Clerk. Can you please direct us all to that information so we can confirm your story? I’m also very sure NS would have covered that story with some zeal….

  30. This was not an agenda item, was not discussed in an open council session, and Newstreamz was apparently not mentioned by name. Newstreamz was the only applicable subject for that discussion to pertain to however, given the current context.

    However, the supporting information to substantiate this was delivered through a reliable and credible source.

    The very thought of this discussion taking place is certainly disturbing enough, to warrant making the post.

    I sincerely hope for ANY inaccuracies that may help to alleviate the alarm bells contained in the posting above.

  31. OK, the reason I said thanks to those that post by name is because I thought that it was good to know who was really saying what. That’s all. Where the rest of the conversation came from, I simply don’t know. However, it seems to prove the point that if you are anonymous you can say anything without regard as to whether it is true or not. It really is accountablility. Now, as to what I , and this story, are about is the range. City Council and the Mayor are not part of this story. “However, the supporting information to substantiate this was delivered through a reliable and credible source.” Sounds a lot like Joe McCarthy and how many communists was it in the State Department? I’m closing out because I think that I have made it clear that I do not want a shooting range in or near my neighborhood.

  32. Maybe your reliable and credible source didn’t mention that the discussion was actually whether to allow the ethics commission to formally investigate elected officials, and appointees to boards and commissions, based on anonymous complaints. The mayor voted to allow such investigations – essentially to allow herself to be investigated – based on anonymous complaints, but the majority of the council disagreed. One council member did comment that there is already a system in place for anonymous ethics complaints, the blogs. Perhaps that is where your “source” became confused.

  33. “That’s some story B. Too bad there’s no truth to it”.

    From your last post, it would seem that there is indeed some truth to it, minus the spin.

    And you are correct, the source was either “confused” (which I seriously doubt), or saw it in a completely different light. Is that possible?

    “Ask in earnest, for that which you do not want, and then feign disappointment when it is refused.”

  34. Gosh B, you’re kind of prickly. Wish I could come up with a snappy quote to illustrate my point, need to dig out the Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations. Look, you mischaracterized the mayor’s vote. I took issue because I watched it myself on TV and formulated an opinion all by lonesome.
    My apologies Charles for being off-topic. I ate the O’Dellian cheese.

  35. FYI, I use a pseudonym, a nom de guerre, a nom de plume. If I were independently wealthy I would not, but since I work for a county government I am neither wealthy nor can I afford to lose my job. I own property on Hilliard Road (outside of the city limits). I have a Master’s degree in biology that I received from Texas State. I hold several professional licenses and certifications from the state in the environmental realm. I am also quite brilliant, winsome, and ruggedly handsome.

    Its rich that gun aficionados want a handout from the government. Perhaps they should petition the NRA to buy them a shooting range.

    My inner Milton Friedman says that if the demand is there, then someone will open a private shooting range. My inner Keynes happens to agree as well. My inner Keynes is usually right.

  36. I guess if there is demand then someone should open a private Frisbee golf course too, rather than use gov. money, right? What about all the hike and bike trails. Those only benefit the folks that hike and bike. What is the difference here?

  37. @COS:


    The government pays for bike trails, municipal golf courses, campgrounds in public parks, and a multitude other “special interest” passtimes….not to mention the parks themselves.

    Those complaining about opening a rifle range on the government dime should logically also be asking the government to stop funding all manner of recreation activities….but I don’t see any such commentary.

  38. “For every person who tells me that they voted for the bonds because they wanted open space, I have at least one person tell me they voted for the bonds because they wanted soccer fields.”

    That statement is so absurd it’s beyond insane.

    Does Barton EVER think before he says something that ridiculous???

  39. I don’t know why you would say Barton’s remark is “absurd” and “ridiculous.” After all, people are asking for soccer fields and that sort of thing. Parks don’t get funded without at least asking for it. And keep in mind that Barton represents Buda and Kyle, which suburbanized quickly and involve a lot of young families. The school district out there added 800-1,000 kids per year for a good six or seven years straight, unlike the other school district in the county. And those young families do want soccer fields.

  40. James, it’s actually you that comes off sounding pretty ridiculous by such a statement.
    It’s true. Many people here in Kyle probably do prefer recreational types of spaces over open space. The town has actually become much younger in its demographics and they have lots of young kids in their families.

    Maybe YOU need to think before you just blurt something out. Just because you don’t like the guy, doesn’t make him stupid. Matter of fact, it might be the other way around. Most of the intelligent people I know think highly of Commissioner Barton. And despite what the O’Dellians might tell you otherwise, you don’t always have to agree with a politician to like them.

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