San Marcos City Council Passes Hutchinson Project Plans

SAN MARCOS – With a 5-2 vote, city council members approved the final design of the Hutchinson Project Tuesday.

The Hutchinson Project focuses on turning a vacant lot on Hutchinson Street into a downtown mobility hub, or small park. During the council meeting, a presentation with the final drafts of the park was discussed.

Christine Terrell, a San Marcos resident, has been involved with community talks about the lot’s use since last September. During citizen comments, she voiced her concerns about the final drafts being done by outside consultants and not including previously talked about amenities.

“As I looked at the plan more closely I realized that this solution seemed less robust than the first round of ideas,” said Terrell. “Having worked in the design field for a couple of decades, I recognized the schematic as frankly an off-the-shelf idea modified slightly to fit the specific dimensions of our particular lot. It’s a generic solution to a specific problem.”

The park’s final draft was presented by Kevin Burke, an economic development administrator, who emphasized the inclusion of bike racks, a rain garden, a public art space and parking spots.

Council member Lisa Prewitt questioned the park’s maintenance costs for vegetation, as well as the lack of community amenities.

“I want to make sure that we are fully bringing forward the vision that the community had for this space,” said Prewitt. “I’m a little concerned about the amount of vegetation on there and what our maintenance capacity would be.”

Council member Scott Gregson doubted turning the lot into a mobility hub, and suggested using it for parking spaces instead.

Mayor John Thomaides, citing that he wants to wisely invest tax money, said he was not supportive of spending more money on the lot.

Gregson and Thomaides voted against the park’s finalization.

Discussion over the Hutchinson Project ended with Prewitt’s motion for a subcommittee to review the lot’s designs and community needs before returning to present further plans to the council.