Ideas converge at recent Spillway Gorge meeting
By Ida Castillo
Times Guardian Staff Writer
The Comal County Water Oriented Recreation District (WORD) and the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority (GBRA) hosted a community meeting to discuss usage possibilities for the spillway gorge last Wednesday, November 3.
The goal of this meeting was to familiarize the community with the resources of the gorge and to prioritize its top five to seven potential uses.
About 30 community members along with representatives from GBRA and WORD attended the meeting facilitated by Steve Bonner, a representative of the National Parks Service's Assistance for Community Conservation program.
Also known as the Rivers and Trails program, this division of the National Park Service works to help communities conserve precious spaces and discover beneficial ways to use those spaces.
One fundamental starting point is to get input from those who would eventually be the users of the space. Members of GBRA and WORD invited Bonner to help in this process by facilitating last Wednesday's and future meetings.
"I am here to facilitate idea exchange, helping the community get ideas from its citizens and figure out how to use those ideas," said Bonner.
Cindy Jimenez of GBRA presented a list of educational resources the gorge provides the community, such as the studies of geology, biology, water resources and geography.
Jimenez also mentioned non-formal educational resources for groups like scouts and Master Naturalists as well as a wide range of recreational possibilities.
"There are a lot of opportunities for folks of all ages," said Jimenez.
Ideas were collected by way of oversized Post-It notes and markers given to all attendees to jot down their own ideas of potential uses of the gorge and post on a large easel pad at the front of the room.
Ideas ranged from education and interpretation to active recreation and meditation areas, all of which were summarized into 12 common concepts, then narrowed down to seven most popular ideas: trails, natural resource preservation, a visitor's center, education, nature observation, interpretation and regular access.
GBRA and WORD, with the assistance of the National Parks Service, now plan to take these seven concepts to potential designers who can offer pro bono support in developing drawings for the space.
GBRA, WORD and community members plan to discuss funding possibilities and timeline issues at the next meeting scheduled for November 30th at 6:30 PM; the location to be announced later.
GBRA and WORD hope to present the Corps of Engineers with a formal proposal by the end of this year. Notes from the meeting can be accessed through GBRA. Call Tommie Rhoad of GBRA at 800-413-4130 or George Cushanick of WORD at 830-907-2300 for more information.