City Council approves parkland purchase

On Nov. 5, San Marcos City Council voted to purchase 89.7 acres near Purgatory Creek Natural Area for $1,295,500.

Richard Salmon, grants administrator for the city's Parks and Recreation Department, said the money used to purchase the property, known as the Barker Tract B2, came from left over 2007 county bonds and can be used as matching funds toward grants for future improvements.

"We don't have to come up with any additional cash to do improvements out there," Salmon said.

The property is about one mile south of La Cima, a proposed development that would feature a mix of residential and commercial space as well as parkland.

The city's ability to make improvements to the area is less restricted because there were no federal or state funds involved in the purchase of the property.

Other areas of Purgatory Creek Natural Area are restricted because of its status as a habitat for the golden-cheeked warbler, an endangered species of bird that only breeds in Central Texas. The property is also part of the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone.

William Ford, assistant director of the Parks and Recreation Department, said the purchase will give the city an opportunity to provide more amenities such as restrooms, parking and a park ranger facility to the Purgatory Creek area.

"The Barker tract is pretty important because it doesn't have any endangered species," Ford said. "When La Cima happens we'll be able to tie in with it, too."

Ford said the road that currently goes through the property will probably not be opened to the public until parking is installed, most likely using a pervious material to allow for water recharge.

Salmon said the purchase is part of the city's plan to use the land near the existing Purgatory Creek Natural Area for parks and open space. With the Nov. 5 purchase, the Purgatory Creek Natural Area now consists of 750 acres.

"We had willing sellers and we had the last piece of property on the tract," Salmon said. "We had a good price on it and we had the money on hand."