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City staff proposes to brighten up downtown San Marcos

Downtown, The Square
Photo by: Bri Watkins | Staff Photographer
Downtown San Marcos is a thriving area with many activities. Residents say that installing lights downtown will be another great addition.

The city of San Marcos proposed to transform downtown by installing permanent accent lighting that will resemble the temporary lights during the holiday season.

City Council directed staff to pursue a contract of architectural accent lighting, and they will soon make a final determination regarding the extent of the installation, said Kevin Burke, economic and development projects coordinator.

The lights will cover buildings and trees along The Square and city-owned buildings along Hopkins, including the Activity Center and City Hall.

Other possible options include installing lights on the Hopkins Street bridge over the San Marcos River.

After receiving positive responses from the temporary lighting installation during the holidays in 2015, the city decided to take further steps into a one-time permanent installation.

From local businesses, breweries and entertainment, fixating lights downtown could be another addition to attracting more people to the area.

Gigi Mederos, owner of Rio Claro Studio downtown, said she is in full support of permanent light installations, and hopes this means businesses can stay open later.

“I think downtown lighting will be an inviting way to welcome people to the area,” Mederos said.

Mederos believes the lights will add more vibrancy to the downtown area and benefit businesses.

“We are always looking for ways to beautify our city and support the local business community,” Burke said. “We received a lot of positive feedback about the lights from the business community last year, and of course, we hope that this lighting project will be one factor that contributes to people spending time downtown.”

Megan Cheney, family and development sophomore, said she would be a fan of downtown lighting.

“I love lights, and I think it makes things look magical,” Cheney said. “I would for sure be drawn to spend more time downtown.”

The lighting is suggested to be a classic white, with a possibility to change on special occasions.

During football season or graduation, the lights could possibly be Rattler purple to feature San Marcos High School’s colors.

This could influence more school spirit with a town that supports the community.

Not only will this brighten downtown, but installing permanent lighting will potentially save more money in the long run than the current temporary lighting during the holiday seasons.

In 2015, the temporary holiday light installation cost approximately $50,000.

“This included renting the lights, installation and removal. Most of this expense is labor,” Burke said. “We anticipate the permanent installation will cost between $100,000 and $150,000, depending on the extent approved by Council. This installation is not actually permanent, but we fully expect the lights to be operational for at least 10 years.”

Over this time period, the permanent installation will ultimately save more money compared to the annual temporary installations. The cost to purchase, install and maintain the lights will be funded by the city.

The City Manager directed staff to take on this project. Staff from multiple departments including the City Manager’s Office, Main Street, San Marcos Electric Utility and Community Services have participated and contributed, Burke said.

“Downtown San Marcos is the heart of our community. We think that a permanent lighting installation will highlight our unique assets and further enhance the image of downtown as a fun and inviting place for people to enjoy,” Burke said.