San Antonio voters embrace conservation; pass measure to protect Edwards Aquifer and build parks and trails

November 9th, 2010

Voters extend tax for aquifer protection and trails
By John MacCormack – Express-News
Web Posted: 11/03/2010 12:00 AM CDT

For the third time in a decade, city voters agreed to tax themselves to protect the Edwards Aquifer and build a network of trails and parks along area creek beds.

By strongly backing continuation of a 1/8-cent sales tax, first approved in 2000, the electorate made sure that ample funds will be available to buy land and development rights over the aquifer, and extend the trail system.

“I’m so thrilled that the voters are giving us another opportunity to protect our water supply and continue the linear parks program that has been so popular,” said former mayor Howard Peak, a longtime champion of the trails project.

So far, the sales tax revenue has resulted in protection of about 96,000 critical acres above the aquifer, either through outright purchases or conservation easements that leave the land in private ownership.

The approval of Proposition 1 will provide up to $90 million more for aquifer protection. The passage of Proposition 2 will provide up to $45 million to extend the trail program.

Already, 47 miles of trail have been built or designed along Salado and Leon creeks.

Peak said the new money approved Tuesday will build another 25 to 30 miles of trail on those waterways, and may also be available to start work on a new one.

“This time we are joining forces with the West Side Creek Coalition that is working with the San Antonio River Authority. We’ll partner with them to some extent on those projects,” he said.

“Neither the amount or timing have been determined. They are still in the planning process,” he said.

The two “quality of life propositions” had the backing of almost every important political figure in Bexar County, including San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff.