Kyle City Council approved the citywide trail master plan that will be part of the Green Springs Project that aims to connect San Antonio to Austin through New Braunfels, San Marcos, Kyle and Buda via trails with a 6-1 vote Sept. 21.

According to presentation documents, the project has been labeled a trail-oriented development, and the trail itself has been tentatively named The Vybe Kyle and will feature individual “vybes” throughout the trail where visitors can eat at restaurants, shop at retail locations, and have access to necessary amenities such as bathrooms and parking. The trail system will connect to existing trails and construct new ones throughout the city.

The project passed with the stipulation that adjustments and changes can be made based on feedback from the council. City Manager Scott Sellers assured the council that the project “is a living, breathing document,” meaning improvements can always be made as it moves forward.

One of the biggest concerns raised by the council was the proposed use of concrete on parts of the trail and its longevity as flooding and extreme weather may be present over time.

“We have researched concrete versus a variety of other materials. When it came to porous material in the flood plain areas, the maintenance for porous materials is extremely demanding,” Sellers said. “It creates a very expensive, ongoing maintenance problem.”

Council Member Dex Ellison was the lone member who voted against the plan despite being on the task force responsible for putting the project together. He said that while he is a big supporter of nature trails, this project was very difficult for him to be a part of at times, and the inclusion of concrete and other retail additions take away from the experience of being completely outdoors.

“I think that’s the excitement of it, of a trail, is going out and being in nature and not having a concrete improved area,” Ellison said. “With the task force, sometimes there’s compromise and cohesiveness, and we move together to make a recommendation to council. Sometimes you’re just outnumbered, and I think I’m outnumbered on this one. I cannot support this trail plan.”

Parts of the trail will be built out to 12 feet wide to accommodate golf carts and light poles, benches and security cameras, among other things.

Funding for The Vybe Kyle comes from a citizen-approved bond from the November 2020 election, according to the presentation documents, which allocates $2 million for construction as well as the Kyle Parks and Open Space Advisory Commission and grants. The budget for upkeep and maintenance is currently set at $500,000 a year, and the city has requested additional funding from Hays County.

“There’s just a lot that is still forthcoming, but this signals the council’s intent that you’re committed to the plan,” Sellers said. “As you know, this is a very important project; it’s moving pretty quickly. These updates and map revisions will come pretty quickly back to council.”

It is unclear when construction will begin, but the council will be discussing the details further at upcoming meetings.