Only people spending taxpayer dollars approve of massive surgical procedures without getting more than one opinion.
Thus I was deeply disappointed Monday evening at “City Hall” when, after listening to almost three hours of one-sided presentation supporting the destruction of Cape’s Wier, that all questions from the press and public were cut off, and left unanswered. There certainly are two sides to this debate, both on the benefits of restoration versus destruction on the aquatic biology, and on the potential benefits of a Rio Vista type fix versus the unanticipated consequences and costs of a radical alteration in a 150-year-old river structure.
Several highly qualified experts have raised well-founded questions about the optimistic theories of improved habitat for native fish species, but these were not heard. The fact that the Mill Race will need to be filled if Cape’s is destroyed was finally noted by council members, but the possibility of unintended effects of that action, like the effects on the massive drainage from the Woods Apartments, and their costs, were not thoroughly discussed. What is the “worst case” scenario?
Predictions about the impact of destruction are not as certain as the council seems to want to believe. I fear a cascading series of unforeseen consequences, which could result in the ruin of our beautiful, new river park and entail huge costs for city taxpayers. Yet they are calling for a vote at the next meeting, without hearing any second opinions.
Restoration of Cape’s is a sure bet on preservation of a precious river asset like Rio Vista, while destruction is a gamble on benefits that cannot be guaranteed. Surely the most conservative choice is preservation. If the city gambles on destruction, I will hope for the best. But if the result is a disappointment or worse, our city leaders will make the scar of the Woods apartments even worse on the river.
These issues are not even being discussed in the council’s hasty justification for removing these historic river features. So, please email the San Marcos City Council to ask them to restore Thompsons’s Islands like Rio Vista instead of turning it into just a “normal” drainage ditch for the Woods apartments.
COVER: Local children revel in the San Marcos River at Stokes Park where an old mill race rejoins the river’s main channel in late summer 2012. Cape’s Dam upstream of this location is the subject of a contentious fight over whether to rebuild or remove the flood-damaged structure. MERCURY FILE PHOTO by JAMIE MALDONADO