AUSTIN, Texas — A neighborhood hiking trail West of Austin has been charging non-residents $10 to get in since March.
But, now, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department is looking into whether it is legal because it gave the neighborhood state grant money to build the park.
Monday was Mathieu Limousi's first time at River Place Nature Trail with his family.
“I was looking up online where to go to, and I found this park,” he said. “I thought it was awesome. And then I saw they charge here over the weekend a $10 fee per person."
Free hours to the trail are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. That is when Limousi and his wife, Kyuyoung Huh-Limousi, decided to visit to avoid the fee.
“Not very happy about it,” she said. “Clearly, because we love this park. And the weekend is the time when we can come out here."
TPWD is investigating the legality of the $10 fee because the department gave the neighborhood a half-million-dollar, state-funded grant to build the park back in 2002.
And, according to the Texas Local Park Grants Programs Manual, when a park does not charge residents but charges people who do not live in the neighborhood, the non-resident fee cannot exceed what residents are charged at the comparable state or local public facilities.
“If you go to a public park, it's going to be a couple bucks,” said Limousi. “Two, three dollars maybe for a regular trail."
TPWD said it has not determined yet whether the River Place fee is legal.
The Limousi family understands that having no fees may invite more people.
“This is part of the neighborhood, but this is part of the state as well,” said Huh-Limousi. “I think it should be open to everyone for their use.”
River Place Limited District's Board President said the board is having its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday.
At that meeting, during executive session, they will talk with their attorney about the issue and may even come to a decision regarding the fee.
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