City of San Marcos spokesperson Melissa Millecam this afternoon put out this statement on parks rules, including a ban on displaying and consuming alcohol, in city parks and public areas from the San Marcos River to Purgatory and Spring Lake Natural Areas. We’ve written about the proposed ordinances here, here and — most recently — here, where a lively discussion has taken shape.
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“Our goal is to enhance the safety and enjoyment of our park system for all of our residents and visitors,” said Mayor Daniel Guerrero. “We are fortunate to have a spectacular spring-fed river and more than 1,700 acres of beautiful parkland that attract thousands of people throughout the year. The new rules are aimed at public safety and protecting the fragile environment of the river and park areas.”
The ordinance offers a “defense to prosecution” for consuming alcohol within a special event contract designated area of a rented park pavilion, park facility or picnic tables or during water activities in the river. Displaying or consuming alcohol on the river banks would not be allowed.
“Our parks board and task force have reviewed the rules for the past two years and put a great deal of thought into what is appropriate for San Marcos,” said Rodney Cobb, Director of Community Services. “We plan to reach out to the community to educate residents and visitors about the rules through signage, media, postings, notices, the web, television and other communications.”
Fire Marshal Ken Bell, who supervises park rangers, said his group will work with patrons to seek their compliance.
“In most cases, the people who use and love our parks are willing to comply with the rules,” Bell said. “We want to take the time to let them know what the rules are and use enforcement only as a last step.”
The San Marcos River flows from the Edwards Aquifer through hundreds of springs at Spring Lake and is lined by parks owned by the City of San Marcos and Texas State University, as well as by private property. Texas State University prohibits alcohol in its parks and smoking on campus.
The springs and river host several federally protected endangered species, including the Texas Blind Salamander, Fountain Darter, and Texas Wild Rice. Archaeological research has identified the river as one of the oldest continuously inhabited sites in North America, with evidence of ancient Native Americans dating back more than 12,000 years.