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

May 7th, 2010
County parks on Blanco River now open

Two people watch a sunset at Five Mile Dam in the Randall Vetter and Dudley Johnson parks on the Blanco River. The parks reopened on Saturday, May 1, after being closed for construction. PHOTO by BRAD ROLLINS

by BRAD ROLLINS

Jeremy Wade has been breaking the law for months.

The Texas State University student just couldn’t stand watching idyllic springtime weather slip away while the county’s two parks on the Blanco River stayed shuttered for construction.

“Every weekend it would be perfect weather, the river is up and the park was closed,” Wade said. “Me and my friends went anyway until we got chased off.”

For more than a year, the county’s only two parks – Randall Vetter and Dudley Johnson – at Five Mile Dam on the river were closed while the county undertook a major renovation and expansion of the properties.

A 43-acre addition to the parkland with eight regulation-size soccer fields and other amenities is not expected to be opened until Labor Day, a debut that has been pushed back several times already. The two older parks, however – and the river access they provide – reopened May 1 with changes that include new sidewalks, canoe launches and parking areas.

The parks are opened 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week, Hays County Parks Director Jerry Pinnix said.

Phase II of the Five Mile Dam park project includes construction of a large concession and restroom building, hike-and-bike trails, landscaping and six soccer fields. The first phase, which included four soccer fields, pedestrian trails, a xeriscape garden, playground and canoe/kayak launch pads was completed earlier this year but drought prevented the first batch of fields from being playable this summer as planned.

When completed, the large, lighted field complex will make the park suitable for tournaments and team sports, officials said. Other features will include a children’s play ground, picnic areas and walking/jogging trails.

In the meantime, though, residents can reclaim use of parks which provide the only public Blanco River access in Hays County.

“It’s great to have this back in use,” said Wade, who visited the park with a friend on Saturday, the first day it was opened.

Crowds were sparse all weekend, with word apparently not out yet that the parks were fair game.

Some would-be parkgoers have apparently been confused by the closed gates at what used to be the main entrance on Old Stagecoach Road, Pinnix said. Access is now provided through a new park road that intersects Old Stagecoach Road further north, across from the south entrance to the Blanco Vista subdivision.

The total investment for both phases of the 76-acre park complex exceeds $4 million, about $3.3 million of which is from Hays County parks bond packages approved in 2001 and 2007. Other funding is coming from the City of San Marcos and grants from the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife, the Lower Colorado River Authority, the McCoy Foundation and the U.S. Soccer Foundation.

Two people watch a sunset at Five Mile Dam in the Randall Vetter and Dudley Johnson parks on the Blanco River. The parks reopened on Saturday, May 1, after being closed for construction. PHOTO by BRAD ROLLINS

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