How Much Parkland Does The City Of San Marcos Own

How Much Parkland Does The City Of San Marcos Own

The city recently approved the spending of $632,000 to add to the city’s current 1,436 acres…but is this the correct amount? We explore that question below.

San Marcos City Council voted and passed an agenda item on March 7 authorizing the purchase of 50 additional acres of green space of Purgatory Creek.

The city recently approved the spending of $632,000 to add to the city’s current 1,436 acres…but is this the correct number? We explore that question below.

The interim city manager will be able to apply for a $2,272,500 grant from US Fish and Wildlife, Ecological Services Division program for an additional 152 acres in Purgatory Creek.

The land is a breeding ground for an endangered species of North American Birds, Golden-cheeked warblers. The cost of approximately 51.5 acres of the land was amended by city council to cost $773,632. However, the cost to the city will remain the same.

Note: City Council has stated on many occasions they do not have the tax dollars to do needed repairs and upgrades to several different city-owned park properties, including Capes Dam. Review the four pages in city’s FY 2017 Budget for Parks & Rec HERE.

Council member Jane Hughson did not participate in the discussion and did not state why. The vote passed 6-0.

According to Rodney Cobb, executive director of community services, the city of San Marcos has invested $1.9 million in the purchasing of green space and now owns about $7.3 million worth of valued land.

Information Corridor News received from a source, (see map HERE), “The orange tract Future Acquisition” was commonly known as the Wildenthal Tract. The tract is adjacent to La Cima and connects the portion of the property already owned by the city to the 800 acres of Habitat Conservation Plan land. This could be what the city has or will purchase.”

Councilwoman Melissa Derrick said the purchase is a “win, win, win.” The property will be a valuable acquisition for the city in the conservation of warbler habitat as well as recreational uses and the prevention of flooding, Derrick said.

Background on parkland owned by COSM (the San Marcos taxpayers)

In 2010, the city council passed a Parks and Recreation Master Plan, which would place eight items on the city’s priority list.

  1. Trails (Connections to existing trails and rivers/creeks)
  2. Acquisition of Parkland and development of facilities in the southwest quadrant of the ETJ
  3. Acquisition of Parkland and development of facilities east of I-35
  4. Athletic Fields west of I-35
  5. Community park development west of I-35 and near downtown
  6. Passive park development along San Marcos River and Blanco River
  7. Increased staffing and budget for increased facilities
  8. Development of recreational/activity centers (small) and cultural arts center

The Parks and Recreation Master Plan received public involvement from the San Marcos Citizens including surveys, stakeholder interviews and community meetings.

The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) has established recommendations on how many acres of parkland a city should provide to its residents based on population. There are four different classifications of parks: regional, neighborhood, green space/open space and special use facilities.

Here are the definitions of the different types of parks:

  • Regional Parks are larger than ten acres and serve nearby populations.
  • Neighborhood parks are smaller than ten acres and include such items as playgrounds, sports courts, practice athletic fields and open play areas for kids.
  • Green Spaces are undeveloped areas or developed parcels with trails, benches and signs; most undeveloped green spaces are fenced off from public use.  
  • Special Use Facilities do not generally offer recreational amenities and merely include plazas, buildings, etc.

Nationally the NPRA recommends the following:

  • Regional Parks should be 5 – 10 acres per 1,000 people served.
  • Neighborhood Parks should be 1-5 acres per 1,000 people served.
  • Green Space/ Open Space should be 5-10 acres per 1,000 people served.

The 2010 Parks & Rec Master Plan used the 2010 US Census population total of 45,068.

Take a look at how those numbers breakdown.

  • Regional Parks: 180 acres = 3.91 acres for every 1,000 people
  • Neighborhood: 99 acres = 2.15 acres for every 1,000 people
  • Green Space/Open Space/Special Use: 1,420 acres = 30.87 acres for every 1,000 people

The 2015 Census population was 60,684 and here are the park totals according to the city website (Updated on January 17, 2017). View COSM Website list of parks HERE.

Here is how the current website numbers breakdown

  • Regional Parks: 192.10 acres = 3.15 acres for every 1,000 people
  • Neighborhood Parks: 95.80 acres = 1.57 acres for every 1,000 people
  • Green Space/Open Space/Natural Space: 856 acres = 14.03 acres for every 1,000 people

A review of the approved City of San Marcos 2017 Fiscal Year Budget for Parks & Rec. acres owned (approved on 9/16/2016). We use the same population numbers as above, 60,684.

Using the “parkland acres owned” totals from the city’s current 2017 budget breaks down

  • Regional Parks: 135 acres = 2.21 acres per 1,000 people served
  • Community/Neighborhood Parks: 59 acres = .97 acre per 1,000 people served
  • Green Space/Open Space/Natural Space: 943 acres = 15.46 acres for every 1,000 people

NOTE: When Corridor News totaled up acre amounts listed in the budget, it came to a total of 1147 acres owned. HOWEVER, the city budget’s “total” column states “Total Park Acres 1699 acres.” View these three pages HERE.

There are also two additional sets of numbers for “City Owned Parkland.”

According to the City Council Meeting Agenda for tomorrow night’s meeting, Item #14 under the Consent Agenda, the council will be requesting a grant from the Office of the Governor, Criminal Justice Division to purchase two new “all-terrain vehicles” for use by the City Park Rangers.

Currently, the city owns five “all-terrain vehicles” for the San Marcos Park Rangers. This will bring the total to seven.

In tomorrow’s meeting packet, the city/city council goes into detail on this item. The packet information states San Marcos owns “over 2700 acres.” The packet also states the city owns “over 2800 acres” of parkland later in the packet.

A Public Information Request has been submitted to the city of San Marcos as of Friday, March 17, to find the amount of parkland the city possesses. View request HERE.

This story will be updated once the information request is fulfilled.

Read the exact wording of the agenda item #20 from the March 07, 2017 meeting.

You can view the video where the council approved the $632K/50 acre purchase and grant for Purgatory Creek HERE.


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  1. Susan Hanson

    Habitat Conservation Plan land? Given that the HCP doesn’t own land, it’s not clear what this refers to.

    1. Terra Rivers

      Hello Susan,
      You are absolutely correct. The statement is unclear. Although I am certain who the land belongs to, it is referring to the land owned in the city, which was acquired under and for the Edward’s Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan.


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