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

San Marcos resident JEFF HARPER writes that “this piece of San Marcos is important and not something that we should take lightly.” 


Over the last several months I’ve heard multiple arguments presented in favor of preserving and restoring Cape’s Dam and the Mill Race in San Marcos.

Some arguments to keep the dam have been based in scientific study that have shown its effect, one way or another, on aquatic life and species, while others have argued for its preservation because of the uniqueness of this area in the river to provide access for the disabled seeking rehabilitation via aquatic therapy. Still others have expressed a desire to restore Capes Dam and preserve the Mill Race simply because it is a beautiful and much loved spot for recreational swimming, kayaking and paddle surfing; all of these are noble and extremely valid reasons to keep the dam and restore it to its once stable and pristine state.

My interest in repairing rather than removing Capes Dam echo many that I have already heard expressed within the community, so, in writing this, I hope to add to the overall argument for its restoration and possibly bring this issue to the attention of even more people who care about its preservation.

Simply put, my motivations are two fold. First, and foremost, the historical preservation and restoration of Capes Dam and second, to preserve the unique recreational area it has become today.

Although the dam was constructed over one and a half centuries ago to play a integral part of the first industrial movement within Hays Country, which is my main motivation for restoration, today Cape’s Dam and the Mill race still serve as a unique and beautiful place for water recreation in the San Marcos area. To me something with such historical significances, as well as being a place people still love and use presently, should live on for another 150 years and beyond.

This piece of San Marcos is important and not something that we should take lightly simply because a little bit of free money to remove it was thrown our way. Furthermore, as it has already been proven, any money beyond the actual dam removal to restore the area, will be at tax payer expense. With all of the additional expenses that have come up since the original proposal to remove the dam, not to mention any other unforeseeable ones that could arise if it were removed, it seems that the restoration verse removal argument, at least from a strictly monetary stand point, is invalid and must be reexamine at the very least.

Beyond the financial ramifications involved in restoring this dam, I know there are other motivations driving some. There are those within the community that would like to see Cape’s Dam, as well as all other dams, removed along the river as part of a movement to take it back to a completely natural state, before it was ever damned and before the area was even a city.

It’s my opinion, if this group had their way the river would be mostly, if not fully, be blocked from human contact and that they would gladly sacrifice the recreational aspects that this river provides our city to one of a pure environmental restoration and research. While research definitely has its place, San Martians also have a right to use the river for recreation and I adamantly disagree and reject any group that is interested in reducing the usability of this river to the community and especially believe that an area as historical and as unique as Cape’s Dam must be preserved.

We need to let our voices be heard before it’s too late. It’s time that the silent majority in San Marcos stands up to the often vocal minority, whatever their motivations might be, and say a loud NO to the removal of Cape’s Dam. I hope that many within the community might feel the same way I do and that, by writing this, others will take a stand and make their voices heard as well. Please let it be known to our leadership that we want to preserve and protect the history of San Marcos as well as this very unique and beautiful recreational area of our river.

Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts. Please sign the petition on the link below if you agree.

San Marcos

The San Marcos Mercury welcomes original letters to the editor about issues of public interest. Send letters through our contact page or email them to Editor & Publisher Brad Rollins.

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