Sierra Martin | Managing Editor
On Tuesday, April 6, the San Marcos City Council met to vote on amendments to the Lions Club Tube Rental lease. The vote passed six-to-one, with Councilmember Maxfield Baker being the only member to vote against the amended lease agreement.
The proposed lease will be $11,900 a year with the option to renew for up to two additional five-year terms upon mutual agreement. Additionally, the city will receive an estimated $20,000 yearly in profits from the Rio Vista Concession Stand, a minimum of $10,000 from the River Park Improvement Fund and an increase in trash management from the Lions Club.
Many people spoke during the public comment section of the meeting to show their support for the San Marcos Lions Club due to donations to community projects and local nonprofits. Among those advocating for the Lions Club is an organization that teaches veterans to fly fish, CASA of Central Texas, which advocates for abused and neglected children, Hays County Women’s Center, United Way of Hays and Caldwell Counties and several members of the community.
Dennis Gutierrez, President of San Marcos Lions Club, was one of the individuals to speak to City Council during the public comment period.
“To say that the process has been difficult is an understatement,” Gutierrez said. “I’m not sure how the Lions Club became such a target, but the comments made about a service organization were difficult to swallow, and we feel were unwarranted.”
According to Gutierrez, the Lions Club has averaged returning about $375,000 to the community over the past three years. Along with donating money to local nonprofits, the organization also contributes to river clean-up efforts and stimulates the economy by bringing tourists to the area.
Councilmember Maxfield Baker said that the primary motivation for increasing the lease is to provide more funding for the city’s park rangers.
“Our park rangers are heavily underfunded,” Baker said. “And that is just a fact. When our park rangers are underfunded, it is putting people’s lives at risk. And I think the impetus for looking for higher, more funds in this rental rate agreement were kind of focused on how we can guarantee more money, not through donations, but through reliable rent rental fees to pay for more Park Rangers.”
Parks and Recreation Director Drew Wells outlined the four modifications to the lease agreement.
The first amendment to the lease is incorporating the Rio Vista concession stand operations and changing their payment to the city. In the previous agreement, the city would receive 75% of the concession stand operations’ net proceeds. The concession stand will give the city $285 per day for an estimated 70-to-76-day season, which would generate approximately $20,000 per year in the new lease agreement.
The second modification is establishing a River Park Improvement Fund created and marketed by the Lions Club to encourage river park patrons to donate. Lions Club has committed to donating a minimum of $10,000 per year to the city through these donations.
The third item on the amended lease is litter reduction, which would increase the number of hours per week that the Lions Club will participate in litter pickup to up to 18 hours per week and expand the geographic area covered.
The fourth item is changed in the agreement is a lease renewal deadline to give city and Lions Club officials time to negotiate the lease renewal finalized and approved by October 1.
Many councilmembers, including Mark Gleason and Mayor Jane Hughson, thanked city employees and the Lions Club for finding lease agreements that each party could support.
“I’d like to thank staff and Lions Club for putting in all this work,” Gleason said. “I know this wasn’t an easy process. I want to thank them for their efforts in coming up with something that I think is a very fair negotiated contract. Look, the voters approved this overwhelmingly, and I think we owe it to them and the Lions Club an opportunity to get this approved tonight.”