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CONNIE SWINNEY • STAFF WRITER

MARBLE FALLS — A proposed boat ramp relocation project has prompted Marble Falls city staff to install cameras at two municipal parks and a lakeside city property to assess use by residents and visitors, officials said.

Working with the Marble Falls Parks and Recreation Department, officials have installed two of three motion-activated still photography cameras to capture boating activity at Lakeside Park, Johnson Park, and the Lakeshore Drive ramp.

A swath of land at Lakeside Park, 305 Buena Vista Drive, was deeded from the Texas Department of Transportation to the city of Marble Falls in October 2016.

The state approved the transfer of land, valued at $125,400, with the caveat the city would be liable for the cost if it removed the existing boat ramp from that site and failed to relocate it at equal or greater value.

“Some hard questions have been asked. How many boats or people use it. (We’re) trying to quantify the average at the different ramps,” Assistant City Manager Caleb Kraenzel said. “Right now, it’s preliminary. We’re not doing a definitive study at this time.

“We’re just using April … a trial period as far as collecting information,” he added.

The cameras will capture data to assist the city council in potentially expanding existing amenities as well as determining the fate of the Lakeside Park ramp.

“Which one is the most used, the least used? If we do need to relocate one of them, do we need five (parking) spaces, 20, 10? What’s the peak? What’s the lowest usage? said Kraenzel as he went through existing questions related to the project. “Just trying to collect some specific data to reflect what its usage is.”

The installation of a third camera is pending the fix of a technical glitch, he said.

“Hopefully, looking at (data collection) during the spring and early summer would give a better characterization of (the ramp’s) ongoing usage or what its predominant usage is,” he said. “(The camera is) oriented to capture the boats launching. It might give rise to more analysis.”

To save money, the city opted for cameras instead of rubber counting strips such as those used by the Texas Department of Transportation.

The three cameras were previously used at other parks for security purposes.

“(The camera) is more accurate … the most cost-effective method we found to get all locations (surveilled) over a similar time period,” Kraenzel said.

The data could also assist the city in a state grant funding application tied to the relocation or expansion of boat ramps.

Officials have specifically tied the data collection to counting boats; however, images that capture suspected illegal activity or public safety incidents could be referred to law enforcement.

“It would be more of a result of an incident occurred,” Kraenzel said. “It may come to the parks department’s attention that there’s been an accident.”

connie@thepicayune.com