County seeking input on future parks, open spaces

Hays County is blessed with natural spaces, from cool, clear swimming holes to stunning mountaintop vistas. Not all of them are open to the public, however, and county government is aiming to fix that and is seeking public comment on how to do so. 

The county’s Parks and Open Space Advisory Commission (POSAC), created by the Commissioners Court in February, is asking municipalities, nonprofits, homeowners associations and other groups and individuals for ideas.

The POSAC, which began meeting twice monthly in March, is composed of two members nominated by each of the four commissioners and Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra. Meetings are facilitated by WaterPR, a San Marcos-based communications and public engagement firm. Suggestions to the commission will be put through “a democratic, public process to determine the need for a bond program” to finance acquisitions.

“This is important work,” Becerra said at the group’s first meeting. “It is an essential part of a large countywide visioning process to come which will provide a comprehensive framework to guide growth while protecting critical natural resources.”

Goals and priorities for the county’s parks and open space master plan, formulated in 2012, establishes basic criteria for projects to be considered for future bond programs. They include scenic vistas, water quality and water quantity, critical land or water conservation projects and active sports and urban parks.

“As Hays County’s population continues its rapid growth, land for public recreation becomes more difficult to find and more expensive as well,” Pct. 3 Commissioner Lon Shell said. “Our goal is to determine need and opportunity throughout the county by inviting potential partners to submit projects through a public process.”

Proposals will be accepted through the end of June. Applicants are encouraged to review the 2012 Parks and Open Spaces Master Plan prior to submitting.

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