By Samantha Smith
Tempers flared at the Buda Parks and Recreation Commission meeting March 23 over newly acquired parkland and the possibility of using Buda Bond Proposition 5 funds to improve it over City Park.
Plans for the much-needed improvements to City Park have been in the works for a while. But the city of Buda acquired a new parcel of parkland along Onion Creek, which has been branded the new Garison Park.
The Parks and Recreation Commission and the Proposition 5 Advisory committee were in attendance to hear public comments and concerns over the allocation of funds to either improve Buda’s City Park or start improvements on Garison Park, which is roughly 40 acres purchased from the McCaughan family.
Proposition 5, which is part of Buda’s bond that was approved by voters in November 2014, calls for $8 million to be used for parks and trail improvements.
At least three Buda citizens opposed developing the new park land and spoke to the commission and committee on possible ramifications involved in development of that land.
T.J. Higginbotham owns extensive property that borders the new Garison Park and raised concerns over the security measures being taken to ensure that neighboring private property owners will not be inundated with trespassing issues.
“I am offended that the city did not notify the other adjacent Onion Creek landowners that you were acquiring this property to open it to the public,” Higginbotham said. “I own to the center of the creek, so does the Marks family, so does the church camp, so does the Quinn family.”
Higginbotham added that on Keith Marks’ property, they are already having trespassing problems like fence cutting on private property to gain access to a water line that borders Marks’ and Buda property. He said jurisdication on patrolling that area would fall under the Hays County Sheriff’s Office.
Higginbotham summarized landowner concerns by informing the Advisory Committee that they need to create a set of rules for citizens to follow when visiting Garison Park. He suggested rules such as staying away from the private property that lies all around the park and insisting that visitors clean up after themselves and aren’t destructive to the property.
“I hope you will recognize the can of worms you have opened by opening that swimming hole to the public,” Higginbotham said.
Carl Irving expressed concern over the repairs needed to the current City Park and wanted to see proposition funds allocated to it, rather improvements at Garison Park, most of which would go to security measures.
Irving stated concerns of cleanliness of the property, safety issues dealing with firearms, drugs, and proper signage requirements. Irving was concerned about possible algae bloom in the creek and over fishing the dwindling wildlife population already present.
Marks also spoke in opposition to allocating the Prop 5 funds to Garison Park until further planning is done to secure the park property. He was concerned about the likelihood of visitors to the park trespassing on his property and possibly damaging his recreation equipment.
The Parks and Recreation Commission and Proposition 5 Advisory Committee were in agreement that security was the biggest concern at the new park property as well as the extent of improvements needed.
No action was taken at the commission meeting, but Drew Wells, director of Parks and Recreation, said the committee’s recommendation would be forwarded to city council to act upon at a future meeting.