The San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance and its partners are steadily moving forward on a plan to connect San Marcos to Austin's Violet Crown Trail, with conceptual routes drawn and stakeholder meetings planned for later this spring.
The nonprofit Greenbelt Alliance, now in its 20th year, is spearheading the regional hike-and-bike trail, which—along with its partners Hays County and the cities of Kyle, San Marcos and Buda—it named the Emerald Crown Trail. Greenbelt Alliance president Mark Taylor presented Hays County commissioners today with an update on the trail's progress.
"This trail will be to get people from one place to another," Taylor said, adding transportation was its primary goal. "I think we will ultimately find—if we're able to put this project together—that our communities [will be] connected more closely. That includes not just the three cities but the rural areas."
The trail will likely accommodate two-way traffic and have varying surface levels depending on the topography, Taylor said.
Last fall, the alliance enlisted the help of Texas State University geography students to analyze and map several potential trails that connect to existing San Marcos natural areas and to Violet Crown in South Austin.
A workgroup consisting of the aforementioned partners and several stakeholder groups including the Hill Country Conservancy, The Meadows Center, Take-a-Hike San Marcos, Texas State and Guadalupe-Blanco River Trust, have agreed it would not use eminent domain to secure trail rights-of-way.
"We have saddled ourselves with that opportunity and responsibility rather than having property taken away from private landowners without their consent," he said.
The three cities and Hays County would have jurisdiction over the trail and be responsible for part of the construction funding, maintenance and trail operation, according to Taylor.
The alliance is applying for grant funding and recently received an award from the The National Park Service Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program, which will provide technical outreach and planning services.
Taylor said the next steps include holding community workshops in Kyle, Buda and San Marcos; developing a conceptual and master plan; identifying funding sources; and determining a design and construction schedule.