New rules coming to parks along the San Marcos River

Rules at Rio Vista Park in San Marcos (KXAN Photo/Lauren Lanmon)
Rules at Rio Vista Park in San Marcos (KXAN Photo/Lauren Lanmon)

SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) – The city of San Marcos is hoping to eliminate overcrowding at public parks this summer by implementing new rules along the San Marcos River.

At Tuesday’s city council meeting, Assistant Parks Director William Ford said a recent study shows that 90 percent of park visitors on the weekend are from out of town. Ford adds that parking is limited with the amount of people visiting the parks during the summer months and that a large amount of trash is left behind.

“It’s like these people weren’t coming for the day, they were coming to stay,” said Parks Board Chair member Paul Murray at Tuesday’s city council meeting.

The parks department suggested five new short-term solutions to eliminate overcrowding. The city wants these items in place before Memorial Day Weekend.

  1. Move picnic sites away from the river in all river parks
  2. No on-street parking on Cheatham Street at Rio Vista during weekends and holidays
  3. Remove picnic tables and grills on Cheatham Street
  4. Tents and other forms of shelter are only allowed where a city provided picnic table is located
  5. No portable grills in city river parks from City Park to Lucio Park

Some of the suggested changes have already been made, like moving picnic sites and grills away from the river.

“We had issues especially with charcoal grills of people dumping it in the river, the grass, there was a little girl that stepped on a hot coal, it’s just not a safe thing,” said Murray.

Other changes like banning portable grills, limiting where canopies can be set up and parking along Cheatham Street still need to go through an ordinance change, which the city expects to vote on over the next few months.

“Every time you drive by the river it’s nothing but families grilling out and having a good day and I feel like that’s what San Marcos is all about,” said Texas State student Raimey Williams. Williams says she’s at the river every chance she can get. She thinks these changes will not only push away visitors but locals as well. “It makes me smile when I drive past on the road, instead of not paying attention to their children, everyone is out there grilling and having fun.”

San Marcos Parks Operations Manager Bert Stratemann says the city needs to make these changes for health and safety reasons. “We’re trying to give people space to enjoy the river,” he said. “It would be a little more enjoyable if it wasn’t so crowded. We want to be able to get our safety personnel to the river. We want to be able to help and maintain and be able to clean up in the park,”

The parks department is also looking at a list of long-term possibilities to be considered for the parks master plan and park ordinances.

  1. No charcoal grills and remove existing grills
  2. Gates to entrances of city river parks to help enforce curfews
  3. Additional restroom facilities
  4. Park user fees
  5. Parking fees
  6. Additional parking areas
  7. Additional park rangers provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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