Thursday, February 27, 2014

San Marcos facing uncertain future as population continues to grow

By: Emily Kellar
Texas State Student

SAN MARCOS- There are big things happening in San Marcos. While recently being named the fastest growing city in America in 2013, the year also marked the sixteenth consecutive year that Texas State University has set a new record for total enrollment.

The rapid increase in population has the potential to benefit the city of San Marcos and its community in many ways, but some residents believe that the negative effects may end up outweighing the benefits.

With last fall's record-setting enrollment of 35,568 students, Texas State University President Denise M. Trauth embraces the growth. "This new high in student enrollment demonstrates that Texas State continues to be a leading university in the state," Trauth said. "Students and their families recognize our institution offers both an outstanding educational experience as well as exceptional value."

However, residents have mixed opinions about the future of San Marcos.

Dakota Colby, a 26-year-old resident and Texas State alumnus is optimistic about the future. "The growth was inevitable. San Marcos is a beautiful city and we have a really nice campus," Colby said. "I would say that we are receiving the benefits more than the negative effects."

Other residents seem uncertain about how such an increase in population might affect the community.

Senior Grace Svoboda thinks the growth is changing the city for the worst. "I liked the small-town feeling of San Marcos," Svoboda said. "The feeling is still there but I can tell it's starting to fade as the city grows."

While many of the recent complaints have been about traffic or insufficient parking, the main concern of worried residents is that San Marcos' continual growth might destroy the city's fragile ecosystem. 

"I don't know if it affects me directly but you can definitely see the effect on the town. Not just in the traffic but in the rivers," said sophomore Caroline Baxter. "We live in this really amazing ecosystem, one of the really rare ecosystems, and that's taken for granted for a lot."

The San Marcos River originates from the springs that bubble up from the bottom of Spring Lake, namely Aquarena Springs. The lake, along with the river, are home to several threatened or endangered species including the Texas Blind Salamander, Fountain Darter and the heavily prided Texas Wild Rice.

Junior Stephanie Schulz recognizes that action should be taken to maintain the river's vitality. "It's so sensitive and especially the wild rice," Schulz said. "The heads of the university should respect that."

While some say that it is the university's responsibility to maintain the rivers, other believe that it is the city's problem.

When asked if the city should continue to grow, sophomore Leah Perez said, "Of course, but it just needs to grow at a slower rate. It really depends on the city. The city should assimilate to the university's growing population."

The San Marcos River, which runs through the university's campus, is one of the main attractions that drive people to come to San Marcos. The community revolves around what the river has to offer and when the weather is nice, it doesn't take long for its banks to become packed with people.

While the city struggles to adjust to the influx of incoming students, residents urge others to help protect the environment against any irreversible damage that may now be threatening the ecosystem.

"Although it's good for the university and the San Marcos community, I dread the day that our beautiful river and its resources show obvious signs of population growth," Svoboda said. "It's important that the San Marcos community keeps our environment a priority."

Anyone who would like to help maintain and protect the San Marcos River can visit the San Marcos River Foundation online to become a member or submit a donation.

Unites States Census Bureau

University News Service

Dakota Colby

Grace Svoboda

Caroline Baxter

Stephanie Schulz

Leah Perez

San Marcos River Foundation

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