Parks, and how to fund them, was discussed during today’s commissioners court meetings as members debated for over an hour on whether to allot $3.1 million to complete parks projects in San Marcos.The City of San Marcos, represented by Mayor Susan Narvaiz and Place 6 Councilman John Thomaides, told the court the city had set aside $5.5 million in matching funds to finish work on the regional skate park, Girls Softball Fields, Rio Vista Tennis Courts, and the Purgatory Creek Preserve. This was the first request by San Marcos to the county for parks funding.
In her statement to the court Mayor Narvaiz citing a love/hate relationship between the city and the process of getting something like this through the court process said, “We tend to get more hate than love.”
However, Narvaiz expressed optimism at the possibility of working with the county.
“We want this to be our next great partnership,” said Narvaiz.
Precinct 1 Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe stood strongly behind the city’s request calling it, “a well rounded package.”
Precinct 3 Commissioner Will Conley also made his case for approving the city’s request.
“I think this speaks to the ongoing partnership we have with San Marcos and how important that is,” said Conley.
However, County Judge Elizabeth Sumter and Precinct 4 Commissioner Karen Ford took issue with the scope of funding and whether or not it conformed with the county’s vision for open spaces and parks.
Ford felt that the county should adopt a wait and see approach, citing the possibility that other projects might come up that would suffer from a lack of funding, and whether or not recreational facilities could be considered open space.
“I’m very attuned to what we’re doing with open space,” said Ford. “I don’t think soccer fields are open space”
Sumter agreed with Ford saying, “It’s time to stop and wait. I’m not ready to endorse 100% of this package.”
Precinct 2 Commissioner Jeff Barton, while expressing his own concerns about the possibility of future requests, backed the city’s request as well.
“We need to keep faith with those that keep faith with us,” said Barton.
The motion passed 3-2 with Sumter and Ford voting against it. The money from the county comes from $30 million in parks and open space bonds that were passed by Hays County voters in 2007.
In other business the county heard a presentation on hurricane sheltering. Hays County is part of the Capital Area Shelter Hub Plan and could be in a position to take on evacuees from coastal areas.
Evacuees would be housed in local middle and high schools while those providing long- term assistance would be subject to background checks. County officials, citing experiences during Hurricane Rita, stated that their plan is to keep local resources local and not depend on other agencies, such as the American Red Cross, for assistance as they would be busy elsewhere. The Atlantic Hurricane Season ends November 30th.
The court will meet again on Tuesday the 29th at the Hays County Courthouse. The public is invited to attend and comment.
By SEAN WARDWELL