by BRAD ROLLINS
The Wonder World Drive extension is planned to be little more than three miles but getting there has been a long, long road.
Voters first approved $9 million for the project in 1998. The four-lane parkway will extend 3.5 miles from Hunter Road, at its intersection with Wonder World Drive, to Ranch Road 12. Total cost is estimated at $40 to $50 million.
One of the holdups has been the environmentally sensitive nature of the land the road will cross, including habitat suitable for the Golden Cheek Warbler, a federally listed endangered species. To make up for the lost habitat, city struck a deal with the Nature Conservancy of Texas to purchase property or conservation easements on 25 acres of warbler habitat elsewhere in Hays County.
At the behest of Pct. 3 Commissioner Will Conley, the city council added a caveat giving the county two weeks to come up a way to roll the habitat purchase into its ongoing parks and open space and habitat conservation programs.
Failing that, the $149,969.31 will be administered by the Nature Conservancy. San Marcos River Foundation director Dianne Wassenich urged leaders to invest the money in warbler habitat as near San Marcos as possible.
“God knows no one wants to hold up the Wonder World Drive extension,” Wassenich said. “…But I want to make sure we have Golden Cheek Warbler habitat right here against our town. We have Golden Cheek Warbler habitat all through our city and we don’t do a very good job of not clearing it.”Email | Print