Next neighborhood meeting: Monday, Sept 12

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Wooten Neighborhood Association meets Monday, September 12 at 7pm. Please come! WNA members in good standing will vote on our next slate of officers.

Location to be announced in early September.

The agenda also will include reports about neighborhood events, safety and crime, and Wooten Park activities. We usually hear from our District 7 councilmember’s office, and our police District Representative Judson Chapman — along with lots of other news from neighbors. (Look for meeting minutes below.)

Minutes of July Wooten NA meeting

Wooten Neighborhood Association Meeting
July 11, 2016, 7 pm
Joel Simmons, President and Presiding at Divine Redeemer Church
Donny Goff, Secretary attending and taking minutes

Motion: (Donny Goff) Approve the minutes from the last meeting.
The motion was seconded and approved without discussion.

Report from Council (Michael Gaudini):
– The language for the upcoming Transportation Bond Issue has been sent to the Attorney General for approval/feedback. This is the most ambitious single bond package Austin has seen, bigger than all the transportation bond packages since 1998 combined.  There is a focus on transit corridors, sidewalks, and bikes.  There are regional projects (such as I35) as well as localized school projects, particularly focused on safe access to the schools.  Much of this funding is for already planned projects.  Fun fact: District 7 (in which Wooten resides) is considered short 270 miles of sidewalk.
– There were several questions which Michael answered:
Q: What is the dollar amount?
A: $720 million, similar to the Mayor’s original plan (of those debated at Council).

Q: How would the state possilby fund some of this plan?
A: There is some room left in the plan for transfers from the state, should that happen.

Q: A lot of the projects from 2010 are just now getting done. Will these be that slow?
A: Some pacing has to happen. If we closed all corridors for construction work, the city would cease to function. In general, active transportation (e.g sidewalks and bike lanes) are quick to do.  The other projects may well take 6-8 years to schedule and complete. Contrast this with 12 years for some previous projects. Also, to help in the future, Councilmember Pool and possibly others are reconsidering the sidewalk fee-in-lieu program which xurrently lets developers pay a fee instead of building the actual sidewalk at the time of initial development. The fee may pay for the sidewalk later, but it is much slower and more expensive to manage this once something has been built.

Q: Is there room 2-4 years from now for a rail bond?
A: There is likely room in 2018 and forwards.

Q: We have heard about changes, and possible cuts, to the community policing program. Are there cuts coming?
A: There has been talk, but nothing firm. CM Pool likes having the District Representative (community police) roles as police roles, and would rather not transition them to civilian roles as is being considered.

Agenda Item: Neighborhood Association Support for Night Owl, a bar/restaurant planned on Burnet (Danny Parett)
Danny reported that the zoning for his business in the building was correct, but had a prior restriction attached to the address regarding alcohol sales and consumption. After much work, it has been lifted.  The final step before construction will be getting the site plan approved and stamped by the City, along with achieving a “Conditional Use Permit”. So far there are no major objections to the site plan.  Danny requested that WNA again express support for Night Owl, specifically on the Conditional Use.
There were som questions.
Q: Does the Conditional Use Permit apply to your project, or to the overalL address?
A: I am note sure; I will have to research that.

Q: Refresh our memory on the parking situation.
A: On Bowling Green and Doris there is already too little space.  The City says I need about 13 parking spaces to meet the requirements of the bar. This uses up most of the parking lot, possibly putting some limits on the uses that the other suites in the building could be put.

Q: Why is the whole building currently being gutted, instead of just your suite?
A: It seems to be cheaper for the owners to gut it all at once.

Q: Are the hours for serving alcohol restricted by the proximity of the Middle School?
A: No, just by TABC rules.

Q: When do you think you will open, so we can come drink beer?
A: We are hoping for November, but we will see.

A motion for Joel Simmons to write a letter of support similar to the last one was then motioned by Adam, and seconded.  The motion passed.

Park Committee Report: Joanne Garrett
The yard signs are in!  A $50 donation will get you a yard sign in support of the park improvements.
We are raising money towards the grant request.
Note that for $50/year, Austin Parks Foundation will manage a tax-exempt account for us.  APF also takes 2% overhead on those donations.  This way, donors could get both tax deductions and possibly corporate matching funds (depending on their employer).
It was noted that our website,  wootenna.com  has been redesigned and looks very nice.
Handouts are available detailing the park improvements as we now envision them.
Q: What about water fountains in the park?
A: Our two water fountains are now working, although the City wants to upgrade them to make them handicapped accessible.
Q: How difficult would it be to add bathrooms to the park?
A: Brian Block of Parks and Recreation Department says a permanent structure bathroom costs about $200,000 to build.

Treasurer Report (Joanne Garret)
We have $2333.49 in the General Fund, and $2423.61 in the Park Fund.

Other general discussion:
Reminder: To vote in next meeting’s elections, you need to be a member in good standing – so pay your $5 dues before then!
Joel Simmons announced that he will be unable to run for President again due to requirements of his new job.

Update on the Newsletter:
Betsey Taggard creates, prints, and mostly distributes the newsletter herself. The delivery effort seems to be significant. Discussions of moving to a digital format have occurred. The current plan is for the next newsletter to be the last full print run, but with a visible notice offering to deliver a print copy of future editions to anyone who emails or calls Joel and requests it.
Q: Will the digital version be a PDF?
A: Yes, so anyone could print it and deliver it to a neighbor.

Q: What do the advertisers think about it?
A: They have been largely supportive.

Q: How many people’s email addresses do we have?
A: 400 or so.
There has also been discussion of a single annual print issue.

Joel offered for anyone else to use the Crime Watch car sign. There were no takers.

Joanne mentioned the school supply drive to fill 7 backpacks with school supplies. Money is also accepted which will go towards supplies. The bin for collection will be on Joanne’s porch.  Delivery of the filled backpacks will be in mid August. Joanne will repost the donation request to Facebook.
A note was mentioned that a donation list (like a gift registry) can be set up easily on amazon.com.

Citizen’s Communication (announcements)
– Officer elections for WNA are next month. There may be a small phone bank set up for searching out nominees willing to serve. WNA is looking for volunteers for this.
– The “Wootenanny” Happy Hour at Nosh & Bevy was a success, with 30-40 Wootenites having a grand old time getting to know each other. There was some discussion of people who have brought smaller groups of neighbors together for parties in the neighborhood’s public spaces.
– The July 4th Parade was enjoyed by many.

The meeting adjourned at 8:07 pm.

Neighborhood Plan Contact Team meeting, July 18

Reminder: Wooten Neighborhood Plan Contact Team meets Monday, July 18 at 7 pm at Shu Shu’s. We’ll catch up on administrative / paperwork stuff, review any new notices from the city, and work on putting a plan in place for collecting feedback from our neighbors on ranking the priorities outlined in our 2004 Neighborhood Plan with the city.

Traffic Calming Proposal – Current State

Presently we’ve submitted our neighborhood preferences for traffic calming to our city council member representative Leslie Pool, which includes traffic calming on Fairfield. Michael Joseph Gaudini is our point person on this issue in her office.

The Transportation Department first has to put together a proposal to make a bulk purchase of the calming devices, which Council will then approve in the next few months. After that, they’ll get to work installing all of the devices, though they don’t know yet how they’ll prioritize the installation scheduling.

Perk Up Wooten Park

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Wooten Park is in need of a shade structure in order to allow parents relief from Austin’s notorious sun while watching their children at the adjacent playground, and improved trash amenities to help keep the park clean.

Donate Now!

Wooten Park is a beloved asset in the heart of a diverse neighborhood that contains no other public space.  For the many nearby residents who live in large apartment complexes, the park is the only natural space accessible to them.  Ours is a neighborhood with many young families, recent immigrants, and low-cost apartment complexes.  Wooten Elementary School, which borders the park,  serves a student body composed of 92.8% economically disadvantaged students and 80% English language learners.  Park access is crucial for child development, physical fitness, and improved mental health, making it all the more important for neighborhoods whose residents are already under significant economic and social stress.

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Be the key to drive a senior

For most of us, car keys represent freedom and independence. According to the American Association for Retired People, more than 95 percent of seniors want to stay in their homes as long as possible, but the key to remaining independent is transportation. When driving is no longer an option, running simple errands like getting to the grocery store, doctor’s office, or beauty shop is a critical challenge. Staying connected is essential to healthy aging, but without transportation, many seniors feel stuck and alone.

Every day, more than 10,000 Americans turn 65. In Austin, the number of people age 60 and older is growing and expected to more than double in 10 years, creating a significant mobility gap. For thousands of senior citizens in our community, not having transportation may mean they are no longer able to stay in their own homes. Sometimes, public transportation isn’t available where they live or when they need it, and often there is simply no one available to give them a ride.

Volunteering to be a Drive a Senior driver is easy and flexible.

  • No long-term commitment is required
  • Choose the times and locations most convenient for you
  • Organize drives around your schedule – weekly, monthly, or as convenient
  • Schedule drives from your computer or by phone
  • Drive seniors living nearby (area bounded by Burnet Road, FM 1325, IH-35 and W 45th Street)

To volunteer, please call 512-453-2273, email nc@driveasenior.org or go to www.driveasenior.org.   Drive a Senior is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.