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March 21st, 2012
Mayor: ‘New parks rules aimed at public safety, protection’

Texas Wild Rice is an endangered plant species that grows only in the uppermost four miles of the San Marcos River. City officials are invoking wild rice and other elements of the waterways fragile ecology as part of the justification for a bevy of new parks rules that include banning alcohol. PHOTO COURTESY EDWARDS AQUIFER AUTHORITY

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» New parks and natural areas ordinance [pdf]

City of San Marcos spokesperson Melissa Millecam this afternoon put out this statement on parks rules, including a ban on displaying and consuming alcohol, in city parks and public areas from the San Marcos River to Purgatory and Spring Lake Natural Areas. We’ve written about the proposed ordinances  here, here and — most recently — here, where a lively discussion has taken shape.

“Our goal is to enhance the safety and enjoyment of our park system for all of our residents and visitors,” said Mayor Daniel Guerrero. “We are fortunate to have a spectacular spring-fed river and more than 1,700 acres of beautiful parkland that attract thousands of people throughout the year. The new rules are aimed at public safety and protecting the fragile environment of the river and park areas.”

The ordinance offers a “defense to prosecution” for consuming alcohol within a special event contract designated area of a rented park pavilion, park facility or picnic tables or during water activities in the river. Displaying or consuming alcohol on the river banks would not be allowed.

“Our parks board and task force have reviewed the rules for the past two years and put a great deal of thought into what is appropriate for San Marcos,” said Rodney Cobb, Director of Community Services. “We plan to reach out to the community to educate residents and visitors about the rules through signage, media, postings, notices, the web, television and other communications.”

Fire Marshal Ken Bell, who supervises park rangers, said his group will work with patrons to seek their compliance.

“In most cases, the people who use and love our parks are willing to comply with the rules,” Bell said. “We want to take the time to let them know what the rules are and use enforcement only as a last step.”

The San Marcos River flows from the Edwards Aquifer through hundreds of springs at Spring Lake and is lined by parks owned by the City of San Marcos and Texas State University, as well as by private property. Texas State University prohibits alcohol in its parks and smoking on campus.

The springs and river host several federally protected endangered species, including the Texas Blind Salamander, Fountain Darter, and Texas Wild Rice. Archaeological research has identified the river as one of the oldest continuously inhabited sites in North America, with evidence of ancient Native Americans dating back more than 12,000 years.

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8 thoughts on “Mayor: ‘New parks rules aimed at public safety, protection’

  1. Another move to end drinking for good on the river…I hope the state and TABC step in soon and take action against these itty bitty small towns…

  2. So what, it’s okay to drink as long as you hide it in a plastic or paper container? This is just another attempt to regulate and control behavior by a vocal religious right faction of our community, who won’t be satisfied until we are all as hypocritical as they are.
    Police and Park Rangers should not be used to monitor and control behavior to such an extent as to make people pour their beer in a cup and hide the can.
    The mayor is simply wrong and over-reaching into the behavior of tourists and citizens!

  3. Hey. I’m plenty religious and conservative, and I think this is absolutely nuts. I agree there are some whack job people around here intent of rewinding as closely as possible to a small backwater village in a dry county where everyone knew their place and these folks ruled from on high. There’s also way over the top environmental extremists that think any construction or use of the river is destroying it and will do all they can to block the thing that gives it value to us. I would say there is plenty insanity all through the political spectrum and it manifests regularly in this city with absolutely asinine over regulation and mistreatment of the people.

  4. For the misguided, this has nothing to do with religion, right faction, etc, it is simply a matter of dealing with a public safety issue that has been neglected for far too long. Talk to humanity about their inability to function in public without endangering others, this is where the problem arises, not with the citizens that have to endure the problematic situation.

  5. This is just plain bad policy. Thanks to our old friend Zeal Steffanoff it won’t stand a challenge under existing Texas law because, as Zeal pointed out many years ago, Mexican Land Rights flow along the banks of the San Marcos river. He was arrested to prove the point and I represented him in his case. However, that case never went to trial because the Courts ruled that all citizens have right to hubt, fish, camp dry their nets and recreate along the banks of the San Marcos river. I have repeatedly told members of counsel that this will open up a can of worms.

    Judge Linda Rodriquez has already ruled that under existing law the Mexican rights to hunt, fish camp, dry their nets and recreate along the banks of the San Marcos river. This means that the City can’t enforce this ordinance within a reasonable distance from the river. In fact, no land owner along the river can actually keep people from recreating along the banks of the river.

    The long and short of this is that should someone challenge this in Court the ordinance as written will fail and more importantly, thanks to a short sited council, every land owner along the San Marcos River could be forced to allow those floating the river to recreate along its banks, without regard to whose property; as the river banks belong to the people to enjoy. I would hope that the COunsil looks into this matter and reconsiders before the law suits are filed.

  6. Sad thing is that the real problem is not the average drinkers, or even heavy drinkers at Rio Vista. It is the teenage punks terrorizing the chute and everything around it. That and the older gang members abusing their dogs, wife, and kids. I would have liked to see the law enforced on the daily grind at Rio Vista that makes it unpleasant for the regular folk. One has to wonder, if alcohol is banned, does that mean that the Rangers will finally begin to take steps to ensure public safety? Personally, I think they are scared to confront the troublemakers at Rio Vista lest they get their asses kicked. I’ve had to bite my tongue a few times….lest I get my ass kicked.

  7. I think it’s a great idea. I have personally witnessed 4 assaults on people in the rio vista area. 3 of them I got involved to try to put a stop to. Alcohol was involved in at least 3 of these and probably all four. And I’m not religious or conservative. It’s just way out of hand, at least in that area.

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