The Hays County Parks and Open Space Advisory Commission (POSAC) was established in February of 2020 by the Hays County Commissioners Court. The role of the Commission in 2020 was to establish a process to study the possibility for a potential park, open space, and conservation bond program and to solicit recommendations to the Hays County Commissioners Court on the viability of including a potential bond package on the November 2020 ballot. The result of these efforts was Proposition A, commonly referred to as the Hays County 2020 Parks and Open Space Bond. POSAC also worked with stakeholders to explore existing regional planning efforts by municipalities, land trusts, conservation organizations, and nonprofits to identify potential projects that would benefit by the POSAC’s roles and responsibilities have changed slightly now that the $75 million dollar 2020 Parks and Open Space Bond passed.
Please read the 2021 POSAC Charter, approved in Commissioners’ Court on Tuesday, April 27, 2021 to review these changes. POSAC members also amended their 2021 POSAC Bylaws during the April 29, 2021 meeting. The 2020 POSAC Bylaws are available to the public for records.
Hays County 2020 Proposition A
Hays County placed Proposition A on the November 2020 ballot, which passed successfully with 70 percent voters’ approval. This proposition called for the issuance of $75,000,000 in general bonds, along with other potential funding mechanisms, to establish parks, open spaces, conservation lands, and other recreational opportunities. As part of the $75 million authorized by voters, the County has the potential opportunity to utilize $30 million of Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) Clean State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) monies for the purpose of land acquisition on properties that could provide nonpoint source pollution mitigation and prevention, while still functioning as a low-impact recreational park or open space.
The current and anticipated project opportunities to be established by the above funding sources range from sports fields and sports complexes, municipal parks, multipurpose facilities, connective multi-purpose trails, river access and recreation, open spaces, skate parks, nature centers, dog parks, and conservation lands to protect sensitive natural resources and endangered species habitat.
Activities eligible for funding through Proposition A monies include but are not limited to the following activities related to public park spaces:
- Acquiring land and interest in land;
- Facilities for park and recreational purposes;
- Constructing and improving existing parks;
- Acquiring conservation easements on land for any authorized purposes.
Establishing conservation easements to ensure its availability for recreational, or open-space use, or to protect wildlife habitat and water quality of creeks, rivers and springs protect natural resources and provides potential opportunities to minimize flood risks and improving flood safety by preventing the development of that property. Conservation land also has the opportunity to improve connectivity through the acquisition of adjacent land, thus providing opportunities for construction and improvement of trails to other connecting trails.
POSAC (2021) Meetings
The next POSAC meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, August 4th at 6:00 pm. This meeting will be virtual Zoom meeting and is open to the public. There is an opportunity for public comments during the first 10 minutes of the meeting. To join the meeting virtually, please click on the following Zoom Meeting Link: POSAC Meeting #8. Click the following link to view the meeting agenda: 08.04.2021 POSAC Meeting #8 Agenda.
2021 Meeting Videos
Watch POSAC meeting #7 here.
You can watch the POSAC Meeting #6 here.
2021 Meeting Summaries
The POSAC includes seven appointees by the Hays County Commissioners Court, Hays County staff, and will also include a general management services firm to assist the County and the appointees to accomplish the tasks necessary to see these project proposals made possible.
Below are the current POSAC members:
- Scott Way, Hays County landowner, resident, and business owner. Currently serves on the board of the Hill Country Conservancy (HCC).
- Lori Olson, Hays County landowner and resident. Currently employed by the Texas Land Trust Council.
- Blanca Loya, Hays County landowner and resident. Family has resided within Hays County and San Marcos since the early 20th Century. Has served on many City of San Marcos boards and committees.
- Scott Tomhave, Hays County landowner and resident, currently the area manager for a landscape design and commercial construction company, FlintCo, LLC.
- Carolyn Gonzales, Hays County landowner and resident, has lived in San Marcos her whole life, and has long-term experience with working on conservation and recreation projects.
- Lisa Prewitt, Hays County landowner and resident. Previously served on the City of San Marcos Planning and Zoning Commission. Owner of small local business that provides landscape design and construction.
- Kathryn Nichols, Hays County landowner and resident for over 35 years. Previously worked for the National Park Service for 17 years, and the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department for nearly 20 years. Also participated on the 2003 Hays County Parks Committee.
- Mark Kennedy, Hays County resident and County’s Legal Counsel.
- Alexandra Thompson, Hays County resident and the County’s Natural Resources Coordinator.
Projects submitted to Hays County should be consistent with the goals and priorities set forth in the 2012 Hays County Parks, Open Space and Natural Areas Master Plan. Applicants are highly encouraged to review the Master Plan and understand how your project correlates and aligns with the goals and priorities identified within the 2012 Master Plan. Hays County currently has 15 recommended projects by the first Parks and Open Space Advisory Commission (POSAC) formed in 2020 prior to the approval of Proposition A by Hays County residents. Additional project submissions are to be expected. This will require an in-depth reevaluation of the existing recommended projects, with this newly formed POSAC 2.0, so that all projects receiving funding from either the general bond sales or the CWSRF are vetted appropriately. The value of these projects ranges from $75 million to $150 million (and potentially in excess of that amount) with entities providing matching funds.
The categorical language of Proposition A is meant to address four different, but often overlapping, project types:
- Urban Parks – which includes but is not limited to recreational facilities, courts, or fields, assembly areas for recreation and/or education, pocket parks, and the like;
- Conservation and Open Space – this pertains to acquiring acreage to protect and conserve wildlife corridors; to protect rare, threatened and endangered species habitat; and protecting historical and cultural landscapes;
- Connectivity – which includes but is not limited to hiking and biking trails, bridges over waterways, and connection to existing trail systems;
- Water Quality Protection and Flood Mitigation -This includes but is not limited to investment in water quality and water quantity of our aquifers via the establishment of conserved open spaces with limited, passive public access and conservation and improvement of park areas that also contribute (or, if developed, would contribute) to flooding of populated areas or the degradation of existing waterways within Hays County. A secondary benefit is conservation and improvement of areas that contribute (or, if developed, would contribute) to flooding of populated areas or the degradation of existing waterways within Hays County. This category of project will also qualify as one of the other categories of parkland and will feature some form of public access.
Any project may meet the goals of one or more of these categories, depending on the unique characteristics of that particular project.
For all new project proposals, please submit them to the Hays County Natural Resources Coordinator, Alexandra Thompson, by email at Alexandra.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Use the two forms below to assist with preparing your project proposal. The Project Information Form (PIF) will be useful for the POSAC members when it comes time to evaluate and rank the projects for funding and timeline recommendations. Please prepare a PowerPoint or other form of presentation to serve as the project proposal with detailed information about the property, the intended use, if any quotes or master plans have been established as part of the planning process, etc.
If your project does not currently include or have all the information necessary to include in a master plan, the management firm will assist with those details at a later time, so please submit your project even if it is still in the beginning phases of the planning process.
♦ Proposal Submission Deadlines ♦
Entities wishing to submit a project proposal to potentially receive funding from the 2020 Parks & Open Space Bond will have until Friday, July 30, 2021 to submit their Project Information Form (PIF) via email to the Hays County Natural Resources Coordinator at Alexandra.email@example.com. Please keep in mind that the PIF is meant to serve as a project summary form and is a useful tool for POSAC when it comes time to rank the project. The PIF is not meant to serve as the project proposal, which should be a separate document with detailed project information and include any supplemental information as appendices. If the submitting party’s final proposal, supplemental material, GIS shapefiles, CAD files, KMZ files, and POSAC presentation are complete at the time the submitting party submits their PIF, they are more than welcome to turn all materials in at the same time.
The official and final project proposal should be 3-5 pages at a minimum, not including the supplemental material as appendices, and will need to be submitted to the Hays County Natural Resources Coordinator no later than 5 business days before the submitting party is scheduled to conduct their project presentation to POSAC.
Supplemental material in this context refers to the following, if such material is currently available:
i. Land surveys and appraisals,
ii. Engineering reports by licensed professional engineers (PEs), Environmental impact assessments, biological surveys conducted by a U.S. Fish & Wildlife permitted wildlife biologist, geological assessments performed by licensed professional geoscientists (PGs),
iii. Financial budgeting and any quotes received for past of currently planned work related to the project,
iv. Construction plans,
If you have any questions please reach out to the Hays County Natural Resources Coordinator, Alexandra Thompson or the Bond Program Manager, James Hemenes.
2020 Bond Program Manager
Halff Associates, Inc.
Natural Resources Coordinator
Hays County | Countywide Operations Department