TPWD to recommend choice for new Franklin Mountains State Park entrance

     The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission is expected to decide at a meeting Thursday which new entrance will be built for Franklin Mountains State Park.

     Local TPWD officials informed City Council this week that they plan to recommend to the state commission option number four of the six TXDOT options.

     Option four involves building a sunken or depressed interchange that will require a new road into the Tom Mays unit where a new visitor center will eventually be built.

     But not everyone was content with recommending that option.

     City representative Susie Byrd pointed out that option four will require taking more than seven acres of parkland for construction.

     "I do want to make sure through the TXDOT process we look at all the options and kind of determine the one obviously that's good for the state park," Byrd said, "but also protects the view shed and doesn't sort of harm the environment."

     However, TPWD's senior project manager for land conservation, Corky Kuhlmann, said they don't necessarily consider it "taking" parkland.

     "Taking of parkland is the last option and actually this is a little different in that in our view this is not taking of parkland," Kuhlmann said. "This entrance is part of the park. It will become part of the park. It wouldn't be even an option if the park wasn't there for the entrance."

     If the commissioner picks option four, the land will have to be transferred to TXDOT. TXDOT will then be allowed to start its process which includes design and public hearings in the near future.

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