Sierra Martin | Managing Editor
Resilience, innovative ideas and community strength were key phrases used throughout this year’s San Marcos Citywide Update. On Monday, June 7, local leaders and business owners highlighted community achievements over the past year.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and winter storm Uri in February, the past year has proved challenging for local businesses, community resources and residents.
Mayor Jane Hughson led the discussion and spoke of how the community persevered through a year met with challenges and uncertainty.
“We extend our thanks to all of the city staff members who continuously strive to meet resident’s needs with the utmost care, compassion and creativity,” Hughson said.
Local businesses and community members discussed how they overcame the unique challenges necessary in the wake of a pandemic that changed everyone’s way of life seemingly overnight.
The San Marcos Public Library adjusted to the pandemic by providing modified pickup options that allowed patrons to check out an estimated 230,000 books. They also created programs to support parents who had to learn to be educators and developed resources for job seekers.
Diane Insley, Director of the San Marcos Public Library, thinks that one of the positive things to come out of the pandemic will be the way residents utilize city services.
“Never in my 33 years of working in public libraries that I foresee having 170,000 library books in a building and not allowing the public to come and pick some out,” Insley said. “Many residents told us that our virtual events felt therapeutic during the lockdown.”
The Parks and Recreation Department made the necessary changes to support San Marcos residents’ physical and mental needs. They created a virtual recreation center and encouraged community members to safely enjoy the outdoors with interactive events such as a citywide game of Clue and parking lot bingo.
The Parks and Recreation Department staff also won the Texas Recreation Park Society Heroes Award for making more than 3,000 calls to senior community members.
The San Marcos Animal Shelter struggled as the pandemic left them with fewer volunteers and staffing gaps, making it difficult to care for all animals. But the shelter overcame those challenges and saw fewer animals brought to the shelter, more lost pets returned to families, and adoptions increase by nearly 6.5%.
Small businesses adapted to changes due to the pandemic, created curbside services, encouraged safety procedures, and moved some of their services online.
Some of the improvement projects in San Marcos include construction projects focused on making the city safer and more walkable, such as the halfway completed Hopkins Street improvements. In addition, the Blanco River Flood Mitigation Project will begin this year and help protect hundreds of homes from future flood damage.
The $44 million construction project of the Public Services Complex on Clover Parker Road is progressing and will house the cities transportation, water, wastewater and electric departments. Ongoing bond projects include the expansion and renovation of the San Marcos Police Department and the construction of Fire Station number six.
“Among all of the many lessons we’ve learned over the last year, one prevailing message is the state of our city continues to be strong and that we’re stronger together,” Hughson said. “We’ve shown such resilience this past year, and we will continue to work together to overcome the challenges and economic hardships that persist even as businesses and facilities slowly begin to reopen. As we look back and celebrate our achievements, we look ahead with resolve to continue building a San Marcos that is strengthened, safe and welcoming to everyone and our city.”
Video of the City of San Marcos Citywide Update