SAN MARCOS, TEXAS — In response to a request from San Marcos Mayor David Chiu, to fulfill the university’s part of a settlement agreement with Landry’s Restaurants, and out of concern for pedestrian safety, Southwest Texas State University has moved the fence near Joe’s Crab Shack Restaurant and the Spring Lake Dam closer to the San Marcos River.
University work crews early Tuesday moved the fence away from the sidewalk along Sessom Drive. The move allows a wider pedestrian thoroughfare along Sessom Drive, provides public access to much of the lawn below Joe’s Crab Shack for picnicking and sunbathing, and reduces what has been considered a public eyesore. The move also restores public access to a display that provides information about the San Marcos River and its unique ecosystem.
The fence was moved down the hill to an elevation of 570 feet above mean sea level, the same level as the lip of the spillway of the Spring Lake Dam.
The fence was erected as a public safety measure at the direction of the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission, which has ruled that the dam is structurally unsound and a threat to public safety. The fence restricts public access to the dam and to the river below the dam to Aquarena Springs Drive.
University officials received a written request in May from Chiu asking that the fence be moved closer to the river. At about the same time, university officials were made aware of pedestrian safety concerns and other concerns of Landry’s, operators of Joe’s Crab Shack restaurant. The university then received approval from its Board of Regents and the TNRCC to move the fence closer to the river to the 570-foot elevation point.
"This is a good faith effort in response to the mayor’s request," said Robert Gratz, acting president of SWT. "This action will promote public safety and allow greater public access to the area. We all look forward to the day the fence can be removed from the site. Until then, we will continue to welcome community members to enjoy the alternate river access that Sewell Park provides."
University officials say the fence will be removed and public access to the river at the site restored as soon as repairs to the dam are complete.