Local elected officials and representatives from LCRA celebrated the official opening of the LCRA San Saba River Nature Park on May 8. They unveiled a new plaque commemorating the process that began in 2009 with the LCRA Board of Directors’ commitment to creating the park and ended with the City of San Saba taking over its operation last year.
The ceremony, which originally was planned for outdoors at the park, was moved indoors to the San Saba Civic Center due to rain. Speakers praised the partnership between LCRA and the City of San Saba that helped create the public park.
"This is such an ideal example of how a partnership between LCRA and a city can create a project that benefits the community," LCRA Board Chair Timothy Timmerman said. "With everything this park represents, including its sheer natural beauty, it would be a shame not to ensure it remains open to the public for everyone to enjoy."
The park contains remnants of the city’s first waterworks, complete with mortared cut-stone fragments, sluices, foundations and other structures in the creek bed. Park visitors can read about the region’s history, its early occupants and the artifacts identified at the park, and enjoy recreational activities such as hiking, biking and fishing.
"Areas where the public has access to the San Saba River are a rare thing today, so we realize what a special place this is for both residents and visitors alike," San Saba Mayor Ken Jordan said. "This park was designed with a regional concept, but our community already has fully embraced it as a place for school trips, church activities and a place to bring friends and family when they come to visit."
LCRA added amenities to the 40-acre park that include a nearly two-mile hike-and-bike trail, a fishing access area, several historical and archaeological interpretive areas, a wildlife viewing site, parking and restroom facilities. A unique aspect of the park is a couple of forgotten, old railcars that were placed over Mill Creek with cranes. The flatcars serve as bridges to create a walking trail that connects the city’s Risien Park and Mill Pond Park with the LCRA San Saba River Nature Park. LCRA gave the 1940s-1950s-era military flatcars new coats of paint and recycled the retired railcars to be used and appreciated by both visitors and residents in a community that’s rich with ties to the railroad.
"LCRA staff took great pride in working with the City of San Saba, residents and some creative architects to create a natural space for the public that embodies and pays tribute to the qualities that make this area so great," LCRA General Manager Becky Motal said. "We hope this park serves the needs of the community and provides an added benefit to San Saba’s economy by attracting visitors and contributing to the city and county tourism efforts."
Current and former LCRA Board members from San Saba also attended the ceremony and recognized the contributions the park makes to a variety of initiatives. The new park also helps LCRA achieve its long-term goal of having an LCRA public park in each of its 10 statutory counties. At the time the parkland was purchased in 2009, San Saba and Blanco counties were the only two of LCRA’s statutory counties along the Colorado River without an LCRA park for the public.
"The San Saba Nature Park is truly a unique treasure," said former LCRA Board member and San Saba resident Clay Nettleship. "For LCRA, it brings a park that is unlike any among its park inventory. For the people of San Saba County, it provides a place for quiet reflection and the appreciation of nature. For all visitors to San Saba, the park gives them a wonderful example of the beauty of this part of the lower Colorado River basin."
While the park is a new type of partnership for the city and LCRA, the two have a long working history. The City of San Saba has been an LCRA wholesale electric customer for 25 years.
"The San Saba River Nature Park provides the geographic linkage between Mill Pond Park and Risien Park, thus ensuring a spectacular setting for all to enjoy," said LCRA Board Member Michael McHenry of San Saba. "Its dedication creates the northern gateway to the Colorado River Trail park system that the LCRA first laid out in the early 1990’s, a vision that called for public parks in the lower Colorado River basin from San Saba to Matagorda. We appreciate very much the support we received from the City of San Saba, our wholesale electric customer of long standing."