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

May 19th, 2010
Shooting task force brings new plan to county court


Left to right: Texas Shooting Sports Complex Vice Chair J.B Kolodzey, Hays County Precinct 1 Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe, and Texas Shooting Sports Complex Chair Stephen Marlow at Tuesday’s meeting of the Hays County Commissioners Court. Photo by Sean Batura.

News Reporter

Hays County residents could have a new 20-acre park along the San Marcos River next to more than 350 acres of shooting ranges next year — if the money can be found.

A citizens group appointed by the Hays County Commissioners Court recommended using $5.5 million of the remaining $8.5 million in parks and open space bonds to purchase land for the project at Tuesday’s meeting. The project would involve a park/shooting complex on a 563-acre parcel in eastern San Marcos, between Staples Road and the San Marcos River. But the Hays County Shooting Sports Task Force (SSTF) recommendation contrasts starkly with the wishes of another county-appointed committee, the Parks and Open Space Advisory Board (POSAB).

“What the parks board has said over and over is, we’re not against a shooting range in Hays County,” said POSAB Chair Chris North. “We actually think it’s a good idea. But this bond money is not for that.”

At least three county commissioners disagree. Tuesday, they supported approaching the City of San Marcos to discuss a possible partnership to acquire the 563 acres, known as the “Hillert Tract,” owned by Rick Anderson and Robert Mayo of Austin-based Anderson Group.

San Marcos Mayor Susan Narvaiz said Tuesday that she had not yet spoken with county officials about the proposed park/shooting sports complex.

“We always try to partner and leverage taxpayer dollars, so if there’s an opportunity to do that, we would definitely want to look at it,” Narvaiz said.

On Feb. 17, 2009, the commissioners court voted, 4-1, to allocate $600,000 of the remaining parks and open space bond funds to “recreation” projects, and to use $50,000 for the development of a new Parks and Open Space Master Plan. In the same motion, the court voted to allocate “the remainder of the bond funds to habitat, open space, and water quality/quantity/access projects, including that amount necessary to initiate the recommendations of the Regional Habitat Conservation Plan,” in the language of the motion.

Hays County Judge Liz Sumter (D-Wimberley) said the remaining bond funds are probably not enough to both kick-off the Regional Habitat Conservation Plan (RHCP) and purchase land for the park/shooting sports complex. Hays County Precinct 3 Commissioner Will Conley (R-Wimberley), who cast the dissenting vote on Feb. 17, 2009, disagrees.

“The priority of the court has been to meet the requirements of the RHCP, and that remains the priority,” Conley said. “But I believe that we can still accomplish both.”

Conley has unequivocally supported the use of bond funds for a shooting sports complex ever since the commissioners court created SSTF to find land for the project. On Jan. 20, 2009 — the day commissioners created SSTF — Hays County Precinct 4 Commissioner Karen Ford (D-Dripping Springs) opposed using the parks and open space bonds for the shooting sports complex.

“I really appreciate your tenacity and the work y’all continue to do, and I’m very impressed with what you brought back to us today,” said Ford to SSTF members on Tuesday. “I think the court still has some decisions to make about our priority of spending, and to look at partnerships for this. I think this is right for a partnership with the city.”

Among the other members of the court who reacted favorably to SSTF’s proposal are Hays County Precinct 1 Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe (D-San Marcos), who represents the area of the proposed park/shooting ranges, and Hays County Precinct 2 Jeff Barton (D-Kyle).

The parks and open space bond Proposition 2, which voters approved by a two-to-one margin in May 2007, 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,” in the language on the ballot.

Differences of opinion over the use of bond funds was at the root of a conflict that gave birth to POSAB last year. Commissioners formed POSAB a month after SSTF out of the ruins of the Citizens Parks Advisory Team (CPAT), whose members had threatened to disband the group in protest over what they said was an over-use of bond funds on recreation projects.

Regarding the proposed park/shooting sports complex on the Hillert Tract, said SSTF Land Search Committee Chairman Mark Bennett: “It obviously meets the Proposition 2 bond on several check marks here. Space for parks, has open spaces, has natural areas, and allows opportunities for preservation of water quality and wildlife habitat.”

Mayo and Anderson submitted the Hillert Tract to the county as an RHCP project, though the land does not have the required endangered bird habitat.

“We had some (proposals) come in where they didn’t have good habitat,” said Hays County Grants Administrator Jeff Hauff. “They submitted anyway. They just took a chance.”

Commissioners tasked POSAB with recommending parcels for purchase or lease as bird habitat land pursuant to the county’s RHCP. The RHCP is currently under review by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). POSAB recommended five properties and commissioners are in closed negotiations with landowners. Months ago, SSTF members proposed co-locating RHCP land with a shooting sports complex, though the effort has been largely abandoned after a lukewarm response from USFWS.

Under the RHCP, the county would purchase land or conservation easements for between 10,000 and 15,000 acres of Golden-Cheeked Warbler and the Black-Capped Vireo habitat in the next 30 years, with federal grants possibly paying some of the cost. If the USFWS approves the RHCP and the first property, the county will be able to obtain an incidental take permit and sell mitigation credits to private and public entities wishing to engage in activities that might cause harm to the birds. The county would use the money gained from mitigation credit sales to buy more habitat land and sell more credits.

A nonprofit conservation organization,Texas Shooting Sports Complex (TxSSC), proposes to pay for construction, operation, and maintenance of the shooting sports complex with grants and donations.

Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPW) Education Director Steve Hall told Hays County commissioners Tuesday that his agency may be able to channel $1.5 million in federal grant money to help build the shooting sports complex on the Hillert Tract. Hall said the money could be used for roads, ranges, parking lots, and buildings (such as classrooms, storage areas and restrooms). The funds could not be used for the land purchase or for items such as administrative offices or concessions. Hall said a shooting sports complex on the Hillert Tract could be more splendid than any other in Texas and be a “marquee range” such as exist in Utah, Arizona and Illinois. Hall said staff from his agency would likely want to operate out of the shooting sports complex.

“The need for more shooting ranges, especially close to urban areas, is one of those tricky needs,” Hall said. “It’s one that’s of high need, but on the other hand, to find suitable facilities to build a range — especially to have neighbors that want a range in their backyard — have always been things that we’ve wrestled with. This proposal is of high interest to the department. It not only represents something that our headquarters in law enforcement, game wardens — those kinds of capacities — can take advantage of, but, certainly, it would become kind of like the statewide hunter education training center for our department, as well. And we would try to entertain any partnership aspects for this range, to make it kind of the high-visibility, statewide shooting sports complex. And that’s our interest in this.”

Hall suggested that county commissioners secure needed partnerships for purchase of the land so he can better champion the county’s proposal before his commission in August. Hall said his commission would probably support the project, though the current economic climate may result in less funding than in better times.

Bennett said the more than 100-foot elevation changes between the proposed shooting ranges and the park would help serve as a natural sound and safety barrier.

“It’s perfect from many standpoints,” Bennett said. “It’s two miles long and half a mile wide. One end of that tract is the San Marcos River. That’s 2,000 feet of San Marcos River frontage.”

(Editor’s note: The above has been clarified to say the shooting range proposal calls for Hays County to spend $5.5 million to purchase land for the complex, rather than to build it.)

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0 thoughts on “Shooting task force brings new plan to county court

  1. We should use the parks and open space bond money for, parks and open space, not for the shooting sports complex. The “Shooting Sports Task Force” should either get their money elsewhere, or float a bond proposal that lets the Hays County voters decide whether we really want to spend all this tax money on a shooting range.

  2. The 3 million dollars could save by not building the new Environmental Health and Development offices in Kyle would go a long way in helping this project along. These offices should be left near the other county offices in San Marcos anyway to allow county residents the opportunity to One-stop-shop .

  3. Well, THIS is a shameful turn of events. The commissioners plan to use fully 1/6th of the money the county voters allocated to open space for a state-of-the-art shooting range in San Marcos? After not using ANY of the $30,000,000 for a large open space purchase with public access? I don’t know about the rest of you Hays County citizens, but when I voted for the Open Space Bond I did not intend for all that money to go to municipal tennis courts and conversation easements with no public access. This money is almost gone, folks. You did not get yourselves much open space. You mountain bikers who wanted some challenging trails? You hikers and horse riders who wanted a decent ten mile interaction with nature? You developers who wanted habitat offset so you could build a community in warbler country? You Northern Hays County tax payers who aren’t getting ANYTHING from this bond? Y’all are getting aced out by one of the most powerful special interest groups in the land. It’s time to get off your butts and let your elected officials know how YOU want the remaining $8,000,000 spent.

  4. Mr.Hervey seems slightly confused regarding county expenditures. The county is not spending a dime on the shooting range. They are purchasing property to lease to the Texas Shooting Sports Complex, and at the same time fulfilling all five requirements which appeared in the May 12, 2007 Proposition 2 Bond Election Hays County voters approved.

    Those five items consisted of the preservation of wildlife habitat; creating parks; preserving open spaces; preserving natural areas; and finally, protecting water quality and recharge areas. The Hilert tract does it all and more. In addition, it benefits all of Hays County citzens, and not just developers via the rather convoluted RHCP plan involving a type of endangered species habitat destruction “credit” for commercial developers looking for a way to pave over endangered species habitat so they can build Walmarts, Home Depots, and Belterras while using the parks money to do it.

    No RHCP proposal/scheme appeared on the May 12, 2007 Proposition 2 bond election ballot. So where’s the beef?

    To clarify the issue a little better the TXSSC has already found their money elsewhere as Mr. Hervey suggests.. The shooting ranges and hunter education facitilty will be paid for by grants from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (monies derived from tax on sales of guns and ammo) along with in kind donations and sponsorships from sources such as Cabelas, McBrides, and other sporting goods dealers.

    The TXSSC is a non-profit corporation, and I’d rather see my tax money go to partner up with them for a shooting sports park than to partner with commercial developers who wants to build on every square inch of Hays County.

    Again, the county isn’t spending a dime on the shooting range. They are fulfilling an obligation by buying land for open space preservation and then leasing a portion of that property in a manner which will create revenue for Hays County and bring in a tremendous amount of income to area businesses while creating jobs.

    Hopefully, this will help Mr. Hervey (and others who may have been misinformed) understand the actual facts regarding this matter. I know if he is like most of us, he may be tired of seeing every pasture in Hays County paved over. I applaud the HCSSTF, the Hays County Commissioners, and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for finding a way to do something great for Hays County residents to attempt to fulfill the obligations in the Proposition 2 bond election. And so should Mr. Hervey, if preserving wildlife habitat, water quality, and open spaces with the parks bond money is his goal.

  5. Is the Hillert tract warbler or vireo habitat?I’m not positive exactlly where it is but have a good idea; and the answer is no. To have that marquee range I think they would need skeet & trap as well as long range area, which rather defeats the habitat part of the bond wording. Is a shooting range a park? I’d say that is streching the meaning of park. Open space, OK probably meets that issue. Natural area, don’t thinin that what people ahve in mind, certainly no natural area I’ve ever been to had bullets flying around. Water quality, is it a recharge area? Personally I think a range is a great idea and I would use it, but I do not believe that any voter thught any poriton of the bond money would go for a range in any way shape or form.

  6. once again it is obvious that the shooting range folks dont have a clue about what they are doing, except they are trying to scam a whole lot of public monies for their own personal pet project. And we continue to see them bluster and lie about the whole thing. This latest attempt shows very shoddy work as far as checking to see what future land use plans are on the boards for this tract. We already have too many unqualified people making land use planning decisions around here with the San Marcos city council and the Hays County commissioners court. It is quite a circus but the shooting park people dont even qualify as clowns. They are doing nothing but wasting everyones time.

  7. This new proposal calls for Hays County to buy land for the use of the sports shooting complex. We moved here after the $30 million Parks and Open Space bond was floated and passed, but people I talk to tell me a sports shooting complex is not what people thought they were voting for at all.

    And, the Commissioners voted for, “the remainder of the bond funds to habitat, open space, and water quality/quantity/access projects, including that amount necessary to initiate the recommendations of the Regional Habitat Conservation Plan,” but this new proposal runs counter to that intention.

    Also, looking at the “proposal” information at the TXSSC site, they say they are looking for remote properties (see quote below from their website). In the interests of transparency and information, does anybody know where the details on this new proposal can be found?

    From the current TXSSC website: “The potential locations that might be utilized for this purpose include gravel pits, landfills, or other remote properties that do not constitute a down range hazard. For longevity of operation this location must be out of obvious corridors of current and future planned development. The location must be large enough to ensure a safe down range beyond the berm and provide enough distance from other development to negate a noise nuisance.”

  8. Why would bike trails, hikers, or horseback riders be any less of a “special interest group” than those who want a shooting range?

    WHATEVER that money goes toward can be considered a “special interest” of some kind. Why not be honest and say “I don’t have any interest in shooting ranges so I don’t want one”? It’s a lot more honest to admit that your interests are selfish rather than hiding behind strawman arguments…..

  9. You know the hiking trail along the river , from Lions Club to Girl Scout Park and around Lucio fields,could sure use a total upgrade so can the stairs along the trail. I noticed that across the street from Rio Vista Dam an area has eroded along the river and nothing has been done to fix this.? Why not spend some money on these projects.

  10. Shoot, if a good shooting range were within driving distance, I’d use it, just like a bunch of friends I know, too. I just don’t think taxpayer money should be involved. Just my opinion… But, if such a bond proposal were floated, and passed, then that would be a different story.

  11. Dano I shoot. Pistol, rifle andshotgun, and could stand some improvement on the wing shooting. But the bond was promoteds as a Parks bond. The proposed site is neither warbler nor vireo habitat. Any purchase by the government would purportedly meet the criteria as long as the land is not paved over; but that doesn’t make it a park. I oubt there is any native grass left out there, so it isn’t a natural area, it’s pasture. I will grant it’s open space. And it may hit the mark on water quality, but I will leave that the geologists/hydrologists. A parks bond was passed, now people are trying to redefine parks; it rather like ‘it all depends on what the definition of is is”

  12. Uh…Dano, I was trying to appeal to other special interest groups to get involved and offset the position of this one well-funded special interest group. You have made my point for me. Mountain bikers, hikers, horseback riders, campers, bird-watchers, environmentalists and nature lovers have as much right to be represented in the expenditure of this money as sports-shooting people do, and yet they’re not squawking (or contributing to the re-election campaigns of the county commissioners, either, it seems). And actually, I would use a shooting range occasionally, but I don’t understand why the tax-payers need to fund it, much less pay river-front prices for an over-the-top complex when a smaller range in a gravel pit well away from any watershed (as apparently stipulated on the TXSSC site) would do just as well.

  13. And while we are talking about recreation, we don’t have a decent galf course in this town. Why not spend the money on that.

  14. As Chuck explained very well above, the County is buying PARK PROPERTY and part of it would be leased(NO COST to the COUNTY) for a Range to used by Hays County citizens, Texas Parks and Wildlife, CHL, 4H Members(They have a very large Shotgun program.), law enforcement etc,etc.etc. It would be a very positive credit to Hays COunty.

  15. AndyG:
    You are a riot. I have never read a comment so funny as the one you made about “shoddy work” of a group who is bringing economic development, jobs, and at the same time, found a way that the park bond proposal obligations (each and every one of them which appeared on the ballot) can be fulfilled to the letter. And rather than their plan costing the county money, they managed to make it a revenue positive partnership.
    “…Shoddy work?”
    You ought to have your own show man. Your comments were a real knee slapper. Talk about being a clown? Heck, you qualify perfectly for the annual Bozo award because your demonstration of preposterouos satire was so perfect, for a moment I thought you were serious.
    Again, many thanks for the laughs..

  16. Mr. Winchester:
    You speak of the bond proposla as if the language included warbler and vireo credit bank scheme language. It didn’t. Get yourself a copy of the Proposition 2 langauge, and you will see that the proposal stated “preserveation of wildlife habitat”. Nowhere did the warbler, nor vireo get mentioned. Wildlife includes deer, coons, possums, ants, bugs, turtles, and all manner of critters. Why has everyone been scammed into believing that the bond proposal which passed on May 12, 2007 stated a stinking word about viroe and warblers? It just said preserve wildlife habitat. The SSTF proposal will preserve wildlife habitat, open space, water quality, natural areas, and it will create two parks which so far, the parks board has not managed to do to my knowledge, and they went and helped spend about 25 Million bucks. How do you like that Dahlstrom deal? Can’t walk it, ride it, or even see it.
    Congratulations on that one.
    Come on guys, since 1897 the Olympics has recognized shooting sports as a sport. Why is it that a few activists can only imagine hacky sack fields qualify as being a sport? This will be a great economic boon to the county, to area businesses, and if fulfills all five of the requirements of the Prop. 2 parks bond election ballot language.
    A credit scheme program for endangered species, is just that. A scheme to help developers pave over more Hill Country. The SSTF gave the county a more than viable alternative. And people criticize their work and call them clowns, because they don’t even understand the proposa or what the voters approved in 2007. If Texas PARKS and Wildlife want to partner up with the TXSSC and the county, wouldn’t you think that qualifies as a PARK? Ever heard of fishing guys? Is that not a sport? They’re giving you river access, a place to play hackie sack, soccer, or whatever you want with the other 250 acres. (By the way, it isn’t 20 as the article abovereports.) So where’s the beef? I don’t get it. I think some of the folks saying they are shooters making comments (who haven’t even seen the business plan or proposal) may in fact play a more hackie sack than participate in shooting sports as they claim. Me thinks perhaps, if they did participate in the shooting sports, they would attempt to determine fact from fiction prior to making a decision based on the bogus claim, that the warbler and vireo appeared on the Prop 2 ballot language.

  17. Some times I am amazed by taxpayers with such short sightedness. A 2000 survey by Hays County indicated that more recreation areas were needed. Websters definition of a Park: 1. An area of land set aside for public use, as:
    a. A piece of land with few or no buildings within or adjoining a town, maintained for recreational and ornamental purposes. b. A landscaped city square. c. A large tract of rural land kept in its natural state and usually reserved for the enjoyment and recreation of visitors.
    Although the survey indicated a need for More recreation areas it also indicated that many parks are not used.
    Most Parks require city or county maintenance, maintenance which requires tax dollars.
    Has anyone considered that A (Marquee) Shooting Sports Complex for Texas (stated by TPW) would generate funds for the City and County? I have been to major Shooting complexs throughout the USA and am never surprised by the amount of visitors brought in to a city for competitive events. Hundreds of people flood into the area for these events. Who would reap the benefits of this, Hotels, Restaurants, Sporting goods stores, Outlet Malls, etc. Shooting sports is an entire family sport where everyone can participate. (Just bored with swings and slides) A Marquee Sports Complex would take no tax dollars to maintain. It would be safe, biological studies would be completed by TPW. Noise abatement would be provided. Park would not be within range of the Shooting Complex. After a previous shooting incident in Hays county the Task Force did exactly what they were tasked to do; find a safe place for Hays county residents to shoot which also provides training for our citizens. We have many of our (Including mine) 4H children and Boyscouts involved in shooting events, and Air soft competition. Many of our Hays county residents are professional shooting competitors and currently go out side the county to practice and compete, more dollars lost to this county. Remember the Bond money would not be used for the construction, just a safe place for Hays Residents to shoot, instead of shooting across a neighbors property. As a Taxpayer I would much rather spend my tax dollars on property that I as a taxpayer and resident can utilize other than pay taxes where I am not allowed to set foot because of an area purchased that would be off limits because of environmental decrees. And it was not reported correctly the park would be larger than 20 acres; the shooting sports complex would only comprise 350 acres, the other 213 acres is the park land with over 2000 feet of river frontage, with access to Tubing and Kayaking. Odd thing is after reading the Bond Proposition I see no where, where it calls for endangered species, but it does call for habitat. This property is abundent with habitat. Finally an opportunity for the county to to do something for all of its residents, not just special interest groups. As a Mother of 3, I travel around Texas for many events for my kids and can see the being money spent outside of Hays County, lets keep some of this money in our own county. I don’t know about the rest of you but my property taxes just increased again. With a complex and park like this perhaps it will help to prevent the constant increase of taxes or at least slow it down. Do something beneficial for our residents, and provide the proper training for our citizens. Texas generates 2.2 billion dollars in hunting and shooting sports. Hays county needs to be a part of that. What would the Marquee Shooting Sports Complex of Texas mean for Hays County? I have actually read the Bond proposition and believe the Task Force has met all 5 or the requirements of the Bond Proposition. Great Job Task Force

  18. I appreciate the Mr. Roast’s well stated understanding of the proposal that the County invest in a property that not only would provide a location that would be suitable for a shooting sports complex but would provide 2000 feet of beautiful San Marcos River frontage to create a park that would be a significant benefit to the underserved population of eastern Hays County. If the County does not purchase this property it will end up being covered with low cost spec houses and the river front will never become available to the public. The TxSSC would lease a portion of the property to build and operate a facility that would serve youth and provide a facility for the safe promotion of our shooting hertiage. This facility will generate sales and tax revenue from the 1000s of people that visit each year and spend their money in Hays County at hotels, restaurants, and retail outlets. The TxSSC will also pay the County for the lease and will be one of the first parks that acutually is not a ongoing COST to the County for maintenance. The Hillert Tract is 563 acres and there would ample space available for a multitude of uses mentioned in the comments here including bike paths, horse paths and hiking. This includes the river front that will provide space for the largest river front park in the area. It is unclear where the notion that the TxSSC is a well-funded special interest group comes from. This is a non-profit organization that will build a facility using grants from the Texas Parks & Wildlife department which are federal grants of monies raised from the sale of firearms, ammo and hunting/fishing licenses. To call the TxSSC a special interest group is interesting in that the survey on the website has had over 1000 respondents from the area indicate an interest in a shooting sports complex. One wonders if there are that many citizens interested in riding and hiking which does not generate revenue. This project will create a facility that will set a standard for Texas and the country and will be a source of pride for all in the area.

  19. I’m surprised not to hear anything about the many single-family neighborhoods within one mile of the Hillert Tract. This area is too sub/urban, and growing, for a shooting range. period.

  20. As an interesting reference for those lacking knowledge (Andy G. for example), a visit to the GW Bush Park in West Houston will be an enlightening experience. It has jogging, dog runs,biketrails lots of nature and a large Complex called the American Shooting Center leased from the County. They have 1000’s of participants yearly(Probably 10,000s) and revenue in the millions. It has been in place since since the late 1980’s and is a credit to the county and City’s foresight

  21. “Mayo and Anderson submitted the Hillert Tract to the county as an RHCP project, though the land does not have the required endangered bird habitat”

    Take it up with Sean

  22. Winchester, it matters not weather the Hillert Tract has endangered species on it. Prop 2 does not mention a RHCP. The Hillert Tract meets almost all of the Prop 2 criteria and does offer 2000 ft. of San Marcos river frontage and a lot of land that will make for some very nice park and open space areas. Commissioner Conley who is a primary supporter of the RHCP is also a supporter of the TxSSC acknowledged in Court on Tuesday that he could see both projects getting done. They may not exist in the same location but that’s not to say the TxSSC needs are or will attempt to trump the RHCP project. The majority of Commissioners see the value in having both projects becoming a reality and are committed to making it happen. As a shooter with a name like Winchester I’m suprised that you don’t see the value in the TxSSC project for Hays County.

  23. Mr Bennett, I do see the benifit. I radically disagree that it meets the criteria. Habitat, not once it’s developed, either as a shooting range, a baseball field, a ski slope, whatever. Open space, yes. Natural area, again not once it’s developed. Water quality, probably. Park, not in the usual meaning of that word. Recreation area, yes.

    If the demand and the support were as great as some of you claim, why hasn’t the free market taken heed?

    And if it passes I will almost certainly use the rifle range several times a year.

  24. Mr. Winchester:
    Regarding your coment NO. 24, it makes no difference, as the SSTF task was not to facilitate an RHCP bird credit banking scheme site submission, And the Hillert tract scored the highest rank in the overall ranking system which the PARKS BOARD designed. .

    The SSTF was tasked with fulfilling the obligations which appeared in the Prop. 2 bond Election ballot and meet the stated obligations to the taxpayers to find land for the county which will preserve wildlife habitat, open spaces, natural areas, preserve water quality, and provide a method to build parks.

    Heck Mr. Winchester, with the waterfront and the additional 200 plus acres separate from the 350 acres leased by the TXSSC, the other park can provide fishing, kyaking, hackie sack, frisbee golf, and if it gets cold enough, you can even try some Canadian Kurling if the river freexes over. But I bet the shooting sports center provides a heck of a lot more revenue to the county and area businesses than kyaking, hackie sack, or even the extremely popular sport of Canadian Kurling.

    Jeez guys. It gives the county RESIDENTS everything they wanted, and is the only park in Hays County that can or ever will, provide a way to pay for itself, provide jobs, and bring a huge economic boon to the area.

    There is no legitimate reasoh for any person to be against this proposal unless they are (1) a developer (or related to one) who wants to pave over endangerd species habitat and have the county taxpayers pay for him to pull it offt; or (2) a recently arrived Californian who wants things done “…the way we did it in California”.

    I can think of no legitimate reason, other than the two described above, why anyone who cared about the five items appearing on the ballot, would be against the SSTF recommendation.

  25. Sorry Mr. Roast your assumption is incorrect. Native Texan. Ties to Hays County for over 50 years no connection at all to any develper in that area, but I do know a few, including Mr. Mayo.

  26. Winchester, since you are so interested in this issue I wanted to remind you that the Commissioners Court has three other properties under consideration for the RHCP plan that will when purchased address your concerns for the habitat, endangered or not. But understand that the property purchased for the RHCP will have very limited access by the public and will be used for conservation credits. So rejoice that the SSTF efforts have identified a property that will provide the public with two parks and lots of recreation oprotuntities.

  27. It appears that the GW Bush Park is 7800 acres, of which 564 acres are part of the shooting complex. A big difference from the proposed 20 acre park and 350 acres of shooting range for the Hillert Tract.

  28. I could go for that. Buy up 5,000 acres +/- between Craddock and Lime Kiln, headed out toward Fulton Ranch Road, turn it into park land, with hike and bike trails and a shooting complex, along with a connecting road out to 35 and we’re all set. The city gets a bypass to get traffic off Aquarena Springs, Sessom and LBJ, a bunch of recharge land gets taken out of the development equation and we get a greenspace that would make Austin envious.

    Where do I sign?

  29. Bobcat. You are wrong. The park for the hackie sackers is not twenty acres. Take 563 acres. Subtract 350 from 563. What do you get? Is that 20? Uh, no, I think it is 213. Keep in mind, the majority of the footprint of the SSC will take up about twenty of the 350 acres for the SSC at most. The balance is reserved for safety due to ballistics info. So you will have about another 330 acres of open area for wildlife preservation, preserving natural areas, etc.
    and a 213 acre hackie sack or golf frisbee park.

    Please understand there is a huge misinformation campaign going on to make it appear that 563 acres, minus 350 acres equals 20 acres. It just isn’t so. I checked with my kid. And 563-350, isn’t 20..

  30. Regarding how big the proposed city/county park would be versus the shooting ranges: short answer is, the shooting complex may require 350 acres and the remaining 213 acres would be used for whatever the commissioners court, in conjunction with its possible partners, decides.

    The 20-acre city/county park figure came from the May 18 commissioners court meeting. SSTF Land Search Committee Chairman Mark Bennett said the RHCP application submitted by Hillert Tract landowners Anderson and Mayo specified 20 acres of the tract as being ideal for a park. I don’t know why only 20 acres would be suitable for a park when more than 200 acres would be left over after the ranges’ needs are met. Land Search Committee Chairman Mark Bennett was not immediately available for comment.

    Texas Shooting Sports Complex Vice Chair J.B Kolodzey said today that the actual footprint for the ranges would be 50-plus acres, which includes roads, buildings, berms, fields, and the ranges themselves. Kolodzey said the downrange safety and noise mitigation acreage requirements will be determined by engineers and surveys conducted by Texas Parks and Wildlife and the National Rifle Association.

  31. I have been a shooting sports competitor in the IDPA for some time now and I live in Hays Co, I travel almost weekly outside of Hays Co, to compete, north to Austin Rifle club and south to Cedar Ridge. Each day of competition there are about 40- 50 competitors. That could be a lot of revenue for all involved.

  32. I for one wouldn’t have voted for the bond if a knew the money would be wasted on a shooting range that very few citizens will even use. Not to mention the revovling costs: extra staff, higher liability insurance, etc. This sounds like a lot of money to appease to shooting community which I would guess is less than 10% of all Hays County residents. This project needs to be put on the scrap heap.

  33. San Marcos is EASY PICKINS when it comes to special interest groups trying to (and most times, successfully !!) push through some ludicrous deal that would be run out of town on a rail, elsewhere.

    Yep!, the word must be out, because THEY KEEP ON COMING !!!!!!!!!!

  34. lol @ Ted. Not exactly what i was looking for. I’ve been living in San Marcos for four years and have always wondered why there are no decent rifle/pistol ranges nearby. Wish there were.

  35. When I voted yes to the parks bond this isn’t the type of use I envisioned. I feel duped.

  36. And that is exactly why this ridiculous proposal will never happen, Kid. There will be no chance of another parks bond passing in Hays County ever again if this project gets legs with our money.

  37. If that’s what it takes to get the San Marcos River frontage then I’m all for it. I don’t see shooting as any different than skating, hiking, frisbee golf or bird watching. Different strokes…

  38. Hmmmm….

    Let’s see,….as far as preserving the peace, quiet and tranquility of the San Marcos River.

    Birdwatching and frisbee golf,…



    BLAP BLAP BLAP !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    It’s a toss up.

  39. Why not think outside the box Mr. North, how about no bonds get passed, let’s not limit it to parks bonds.

  40. Winchester, voters pass bonds. If anything, they are a better tool for spending, because they take discretion from the representatives who can be influenced by stakeholders and place it with the voters. The problem with the parks bond was the wide discretion it gave back to the representatives. The bond did not authorize a specific purchase, but instead was a blank check. When you give the representatives a blank check, it looks less like a bond and more like regular discretionary spending. I wish voters demanded more specificity before they vote for bonds. Even though I like parks, I voted “no” because the discretion allowed precisely what happened — millions of dollars and not a single new park for the general public.

    As a side note, if the voters of a particular polictical subdivision have too large an appetite for debt and authorize too much burden on taxpayers, the taxpayers will vote with their feet and move. That is the danger in San Marcos where the move to November municipal elections gave students the power to tax the workers for the students benefit. Bonds which benefit the students have a great chance of passing in a Presidential year, but what if there are no workers left to fund the students appetites?

  41. You’re correct, except for revenue bonds the money can pretty much be spent at will. And you’re also correct that voters vote for bonds, because they think it’s free money. But my remark was aimed at the Court, you know the old ‘fool me once’ or as I tell clients, once you’ve lied to me, I can never believe you again, so always tell me the truth.

  42. There comes a time when one has to step back, examine the big picture, double check history, and then say Basta!

  43. Pingback: QUOTE CORNER - San Marcos Local News

  44. Tuesday, June 8, Hays County Commissioner’s Court Agenda Item # 36:
    Executive Session,pursuant to 551.071 of the Texas Local Government Code: consultation with counsel and deliberation regarding a regional shooting sports complex in Hays County. Possible Action may follow in open court.

  45. Chris and others opposed to the gun range: what’s the difference in using taxpayer money for that vs. using taxpayer money for tennis courts, skateboarding parks, and other recreation used only by a few people?? Do those groups somehow rank as “better” or “more deserving” than those who choose to shoot? I’m not advocating the building of a gun range but just asking why one group should expect taxpayer support for their recreation and yet another gets denied ? Sounds like blind discrimination to me by those who just want government to do what they want and oppose anything they don’t use rather than looking at the whole picture and recognizing that perhaps others who are funding those pet projects would also like, and deserve, to have theirs funded too. Perhaps the better way is to not fund any of them. But then, what happens to quality of life that good job paying businesses look for when deciding to relocate?

  46. Great !!!


    Hear that folks!!

    It’ll be just like the skate park and the tennis courts !!

    We wouldn’t want to discriminate, now would we ???

  47. Max, try to keep up. The remaining 8.5 million of the 30 million dollar bond passed by the voters a few years ago was dedicated by Commissioner’s Court last summer to go for Habitat Conservation Land. This is land that will be ‘banked’ to mitigate for the taking of endangered species habitat from road construction mostly.
    Is the Endangered Species Act ringing a bell? We have about a dozen or more in Hays County.
    Fish and Wildlife has already said “they cannot envision a scenerio in which HCP land could accommodate a shooting range”.
    The remaing bond money is NOT for a friggin’ shooting range. Period. These gun range people are relentless and kind of nutty.
    I wonder if a shooting range went on the ballot for bond money, would it pass? I will fight to the death any future parks bond prop that is not tied to a specific project, because the Court cannot be trusted to spend the money the way it was intended…
    Anyway, try to keep up.

  48. Gee Chris and “B. Franklin” …must be nice to be SO-O superior to everyone else, since obviously you don’t think the rest of us might just see something that you don’t see.

  49. “the rest of us might just see something that you don’t see.”

    Speaking to your case alone Max,

    I would give it a “generous maybe”,

    qualified by a “but, most probably not”.

    And I certainly don’t consider myself to be “superior to everyone else”, but your case once again Max,

    might allow for that rare exception.

  50. Well said Chris. POSAB is clearly blessed to have you on the board. I would guess you’re a graduate of the Kissinger School of Diplomacy. I especially admire your employment of name calling and infantalization.

  51. It is surprising the amount of comments on this post that do not address the fact that this is taking us RIVERFRONT property. The San Marcos River is so beautiful and natural, albeit that is changing as it is becoming increasingly popular at a rapid pace. If anything it needs to be preserved- not developed!

    There is absolutely no reason why this land should be used for anything other than residential tracks or park space, like on the Guadalupe. I propose the first because it would have less of an environmental impact on the river and wildlife. There are already homes established in the area, who I am sure do not want to hear the sound of guns going off day in and day out. A shooting range can be established ANYWHERE, why take up the most beautiful and sacred part of San Marcos for it? Nonsense!

    The money proposed for this land, could be used for a much smaller park area. Riverfront property is so limited already, why take up such a large chunk? The tax payer dollars could be directed towards a city face-lift, improved roadways (God knows we are all tired of getting our cars realigned due to pot holes), and river clean up projects (due to the increasing amounts of out-of-towners that are visiting). The list goes on and on… but a shooting range? I enjoy shooting as well, but really?

  52. @Max: why are the shooting range people different from the skateboarding and tennis lobbyists, you ask? Well, for one thing, no other lobbying group is requesting that fully 1/6 of the total bond bill be devoted to their special cause, nor is there a profit-motive involved in building baseball diamonds and skateboarding parks. Tennis courts and the like also don’t have serious environmental impact repercussions requiring extensive remediation procedures. They don’t cost as much to build. They don’t generate as much noise. They don’t lower the neighborhood property values the way a gun range does. I speak from experience: when a shooting range was built in my neighborhood, Hays County gave everyone within a mile of the range an undisputed and unquestioned decrease in property taxes if a protest was filed. The tax break was not much compensation for the constant noise.

    @Mark Bennett: the survey on the TxSSC site can be filled out repeatedly by the same computer. The 1,000 respondent number you quote is meaningless. As a TxSSC member, surely you know that. I voted no six times, just because I could.

    Texas ranks 47th in public land ownership. Our opportunities to correct this problem shrink every year as land values appreciate. Here in Hays County we have a rare opportunity to give ourselves a huge open space in which to recreate. As our county becomes more densely populated, this open space will be invaluable. We should be thinking far into the future now. The gun range will come about one way or another. Let’s not squander this opportunity to do something truly meaningful on such an inappropriate purchase.

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