Wooten Neighborhood Association
Minutes for 9 March 2009
The March 2009 meeting of the Wooten Neighborhood Association was called to order by President Adam Turner at 7:07 PM in the Redeemer Lutheran Church cafeteria.
GUESTS FOR THE MEETING
The expected Austin Police Department District Representative was not present; a reorganization was again underway. The Districts were being realigned as Bureaus.
The Wooten Elementary School principal was expected, and planners from Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department, Chris Yanez and Farhad Madani, were there to represent new PARD director Sara Hensley.
It was noted that PARD was responsible for recreation centers, pools, cultural centers, museums, park maintenance, etc. Current hiring is limited to positions dealing with health and safety issues. There are 67 vacancies, most of them in maintenance; indoor employees are also working outdoors, and outdoor employees are doing multiple jobs to help make up the difference. Wooten Park is shared between PARD and AISD. WNA members were asked to provide input on what we would like to see at the park. The school is seeking more parking; WNA is hoping for jogging trails, a potential partnership with Texas Action for Healthy Kids – more trees, plants, a barrier between the fields and the street to keep people and balls from interacting with vehicles, garbage cans that don’t disappear leaving trash blowing through the neighborhood, mulch areas at playgrounds repaired (underlayment is being torn up by vandals). A PARD long range plan is about ready for review and should be online by the end of April.
Rob Bollich, the principal of Wooten Elementary School, next addressed the membership. The school is in transition. Its student body is largely from low income families with limited English proficiency. The school has been rated Acceptable, moving up from 60% passing to over 75%. Science is a challenge, especially passing the TAKS tests. Students need to learn to think in their first language and then move that accomplishment into English. Many students’ backgrounds are such that they are lacking knowledge of the outdoors: rivers, lakes. The school should have a representative ecosystem installed with native plants, butterfly gardens, a water catchment system. Students need to learn from expanded experiences. Through time, tests become harder and require a larger percentage of students to pass.
The school property cuts diagonally across the park; it is necessary to keep the children separate from park visitors. The school building is being upgraded: new windows, roof, a new parking lot for staff. It appears that individuals not connected with the school are dumping trash on the property. There was a discussion about trash handling. The school is working with Redeemer Lutheran Church on gardens.
There is a need for monitoring children around the school. The AISD police also are covering Lanier and Burnet, et al. They are on the lookout for fights, graffiti, gang-related problems. Residents of the area were urged to call 414-1703 to connect with the AISD police. It was expressed by the audience that area home owners have opted to send their children to private school or get transfers rather than go to Wooten. Twenty-five percent of Wooten classes are English-only. The educational level of the parents is the predictor of their children’s progress. Many have limited exposure to a good vocabulary. The neighborhood interior is primarily retired Anglos, with lower-income non-Anglo renters along the neighborhood perimeter.
School scores need to improve, bringing Wooten to Recognized status, with 75% of all TAKS categories passed. Accelerated academies would be good, with a lot of enrichment activities, computers, and science labs.
Matt Curtis was at the meeting to represent Capital Metro. He distributed brochures and said that March 28 was intended to be the grand opening for the commuter rail line. It was noted that there was no parking at our nearest station (Crestview). It was acknowledged that the Airport/Lamar Intersection needed to be redone and that bicycle/pedestrian access to the Crestview station might be made possible through the Austin Energy property.
The minutes from the January meeting were approved as distributed.
Budget and Finance – Treasurer Janie Riley reported that our WNA treasury held $1,849.18 at the end of January and $1,884.18 at the end of February.
Crime – Adam Turner has been in contact with someone from APD who can describe how to get neighborhood watches set up. Security evaluations from APD could help residents to see weak links in home security. WNA streets seem to be lacking sufficient lighting.
Transportation – No chair for this committee right now.
Newsletter – We are still needing someone to coordinate the distribution of newsletters, etc. Turner has secured three bids for printing the newsletter.
Fundraising – we need to get back in contact with Sarah Reams.
Community Relations – Marilyn Rogers was on vacation.
Code Enforcement – Steve Rogers was on vacation.
Technology – Victor Engel indicated that about 100 individuals were signed up for the Wooten listserv, with jumps in participation in January and in August-September 2008. Turner spoke about the responses to the survey regarding what concerned members most in our neighborhood plan goals. WNA responses need to be combined with those of Crestview. The results should be displayed on the WNA website.
The north central Austin neighborhoods’ City Council and Mayoral candidates forum at St. Louis’ Wozniak Hall on April 13 was discussed. Joy Roberts, Carolyn Spock, and Adam Turner represented WNA in the development of the questions for the candidates. Turner mentioned that he had missed the Austin Neighborhoods Council meeting where Steven Zettner of Sustainable Neighborhoods made a presentation, but had attended one where he met Sara Hensley (new PARD director) and heard City Manager Mark Ott speak. He noted that extensive work had been done on a city bicycle/pedestrian master plan.
Betsy Thaggard wondered how Wooten was faring crime-wise. We aren’t quite sure who in APD should be contacted due to the reorganization. The date of the next Commander’s Forum had not been announced.
Two neighbors described the shenanigans of an annoying opossum at their home.
Joy Roberts moved to adjourn and Opie Gonzalez seconded the motion. The meeting was adjourned at 8:25 PM.
Minutes taken by Vice-President Carolyn Spock