GUEST COMMENTARY by WILL CONLEY
These figures are long standing in our community, for the most part, and create a tremendous liability for future stability and quality of life in the San Marcos area. There are many things that must be done in the private and public sector to break this pattern. Fortunately, many things are happening today to solve these problems and to establish a diverse community that is sustainable and provides opportunity for all.
One of our known shortcomings is the availability of middle income and executive housing. This has been well documented by many experts. As chairman of our economic development organization, the Greater San Marcos Partnership, I can tell you it is a persistent major challenge to our recruitment and retention ability for job creation and investment in the San Marcos area. Almost all inventories along these lines are gone in our community.
The issue must be addressed if we are going to have future success in building a strong diverse community. Fortunately, we have before us today a handful of projects that may potentially help us resolve the housing liability, thus giving us a better opportunity to compete in a global market for the San Marcos Area.
One of those projects is called La Cima. La Cima is a proposed innovative live-work-play community located at the intersection of Wonder World Drive and Old Ranch Road 12. It is an evolution of the Lazy Oaks development proposal into a larger master planned community that would have a combination of middle income and executive housing, an office/corporate campus component, and community commercial space.
In addition, the project would provide for new transportation solutions that are needed in the area, with a proposed landscaped boulevard road that would bisect this development starting at intersection of Wonder World and Old Ranch Road 12 and running all the way all the way to Centerpoint Road through Paso Robles. Finally, the proposal would include plans for the largest park/ preserve in Hays County history.
The project would provide the necessary area for the county’s preserve requirements under our Habitat Conservation Plan, creating many acres available for park recreation and trails. It would simultaneously provide connectivity to Centerpoint Road and over to our Purgatory Creek Natural Area in the city. This is a significant opportunity for our community to work with many in the private sector to provide economic security, safeguard our natural environment, and improve traffic flow. It is a unique opportunity for our community to build something special in the San Marcos area.
Let me be clear and transparent about the process. Various stakeholders began to meet with the Precinct 3 office and relevant county staff just a few months ago. I applaud their efforts to come to the county early to discuss conceptual possibilities. They have been candid and open about their qualifications and desires. They have provided the county with all the information we have requested in order to develop this concept. No official request or paperwork has begun. We have simply been working collectively on ideas that would potentially make future developments a true asset to our community.
You may ask why this dialogue was initiated at the county level, to which the answer is very straightforward. First, most of the area we are discussing is in the extra-territorial jurisdiction of the city of San Marcos, but still in the unincorporated area of the county. Second, and most importantly, the county is the local representative of most of the citizens in the adjacent area. The stakeholders believe, and I concur, that it is vital to have the county at the table when potential development may be occurring in an area where almost all adjacent properties are represented by county officials.
For example, through this dialogue we have been able to address potential issues and concerns for citizens who live in The Settlement neighborhood. We have been able to ensure that there would be no direct impact today or in the future to citizens living on or around McCarty Rd and the Quail Run area.
The county has been able to express clearly the needs for our preserve requirements and our desire for preserve/parkland connectivity for this entire area from Centerpoint and Hunter Road through to the Purgatory Creek Natural Area. The Precinct 3 office and county staff have also initiated discussions about environmental concerns and economic possibilities associated with the development. A final pertinent point regards the county’s participation in developing a plan that should basically replicate the original agreement created by many city officials and other stakeholders for the original Lazy Oak development agreement.
I look forward to the formal part of this endeavor to begin. This will include a county process and a city process. It will include discussions with the community and stakeholders who are involved in different respected fields of interest. I believe where we are conceptually is a wonderful beginning. I look forward to presenting this opportunity to my colleagues on the Court and to working with my friends and colleagues at the City of San Marcos, as well as those in the private sector, to see if we can take these ideas and put them to work for a better community.
I believe we are at a unique point with the housing market, the level of private investment, and the ability to master plan thousands of acres of land in this general area. We have an opportunity to stand out in central Texas as a community with one of the best combinations of residential/commercial development, parks/preserves, and transportation improvements in a generation.
La Cima concept plan [pdf]
La Cima vicinity map [pdf]
Hays County Pct. 3 Commissioner WILL CONLEY is serving his third term on the Hays County Commissioners Court and is board chair of the Greater San Marcos Partnership and of the six-county Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization.
COVER: Conley at a Hays County Commissioners Court meeting in 2010. HAYS FREE PRESS FILE PHOTO by CYNDY SLOVAK BARTONEmail | Print