Buda’s Stagecoach Park on Main Street is a wonderful place with historic buildings, trails, playgrounds, and even an Amphitheater. The park is also a monument to Texas charm with its trails lined by Pecan, Live Oak, and Blueberry Juniper trees. But this great place was not always meant to be- in 1998 the site of Buda’s Stagecoach Park was on track to become an overnight RV park. As towns grow they can often to lose track their country landscapes, this is the story of the part I played in preserving some of Buda’s natural beauty.
At the beginning of 1998 the old stagecoach house property and site of future Stagecoach Park on Main Street (52 acres) was listed for sale by an Austin Realtor. The owners were two Stanzel Brothers – Victor & Joe.
The Austin Realtor had a buyer for the property that wanted to turn it into an RV campground. At that time, I was a member of the Buda Old Town Association and our organization had worked diligently to have the old stagecoach house part of the property (1.9 acres) gift deeded to our organization. This is the historic home built for postmasters of Buda. We had no idea what would happen to the remaining 50 acres.
By June 1998 Gray White, the Buda Mayor, became alarmed that the sale to the RV Park developer might go through. He and I met to discuss the property. He complained that the Austin Realtor would not take him seriously about the City of Buda wanting to buy the property. The realtor was not returning Mayor White’s telephone calls.
I told Gray that there was a state law that said that a listing broker had to present a written contract offer to the owners. I told him that if we wrote up a contract to buy the property then the listing Realtor would have to present to offer to Victor & Joe Stanzel and the Realtor would also have to talk to the city.
By a stroke of luck the Stanzel brothers had a niece named Helen Niesner who lived in Hays Country Oaks subdivision just to the west of Buda. When Helen learned of the two options for the property, she talked with her uncles and helped to persuade them to sell the property to the city instead of to the RV park developer.
At this same time, Grey White then made the remarkable decision for the City of Buda to buy all of the property. He had found the necessary money somewhere in the city budget and we scheduled the closing for August 1998. The sale closed on August 28, 1998 at the Law offices of Robert Giberson (Hays County Abstract) located at 317 North Railroad Street Buda, Texas.
There was some continued talk about the Old Stagecoach House and the original post office building being donated to the Buda Old Town Association, but in the end the city decided to retain all of the property.
In February 2004 Texas Parks & Wildlife made a $500,000 donation to the City of Buda “to acquire by donation 1.2 acres and develop 50.4 acres of city-owned non-parkland as Buda Stagecoach Park located on Onion Creek in the east area of the city. Proposed development includes a 1.2 acre wetland dedication, 5.0 acre open space dedication, 1.91 mile hike/bike trail, 0.15 mile nature trail, wetland garden, lighted amphitheater, pavilion, playground, nine picnic stations, 10 benches, pond, three camp sites, council ring, creek observation overlook, wetland observation overlook, park overlook, creek access areas, wildflower meadow, xeriscape gardens, three educational/information kiosks, interpretive signs, and program signs. The local match consists of the value of the city-owned non-parkland, Hays County grant funds, and private donations of land and labor.”
As a member of the Hays county Parks Advisory Board I was pleased to cast a vote to approve the above described “grant funds” from Hays County for the Stagecoach Park development.
The Old Stagecoach house is now the location of the city of Buda Parks & Recreation Department as well as the city tourism office. The remainder of the land is now a city park, The Stagecoach Park.
Growth across Central Texas has changed many communities and separated us from our natural histories. Often our discussions of land are in the utilitarian language of zoning, parking, and site planning. At Stagecoach Park on Main St. in Buda we managed to preserve, for generations to come, some of the wild beauty that preceded our town.
John B. Sanford, Realtor, Representative for the City of Buda for the purchase of the Old stagecoach House and Buda original post office.