The Hays County Parks and Outdoor Space Advisory Commission (POSAC) was established in March 2020 by the Hays County Commissioners Court. The role of the Commission was to establish a process to study a parks, open space, and conservation bond program and to solicit project recommendations to the Hays County Commissioners Court that might be included on the Hays County Parks Bond in the November 2020 election. Read the recently restated POSAC Charter, approved in Commissioners’ Court on Tuesday, April 27, 2021. POSAC have also adopted amended their 2021 POSAC Bylaws during the April 29, 2021 meeting. The 2020 POSAC Bylaws are available here.
This group of community members, appointed by the Court, was recently reinvigorated to help evaluate projects and allocate the $75 million bond funding approved through Prop A in November’s election.
Hays 2020 Parks Bond
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
Our next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, May 20, 2021, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Use this meeting link (Teams) to join.
2021 Meeting Summaries
Meeting Summary 4.29.21
Meeting Summary 3.24.21
Meeting Summary 3.3.21
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.
- Alexandra Thompson, Hays County resident and the County’s Natural Resources Coordinator.
- Mark Kennedy, Hays County resident and County’s Legal Counsel.
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 prior to the proposition passing. 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.email@example.com.
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.
If you have any questions please reach out to the Hays County Natural Resources Coordinator at 512.393.2156 or by email at Alexandra.Thompson@co.hays.tx.us.