WOOTEN NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION
Minutes of 11 July 2011
President Joy Roberts called the July meeting to order at 7:04 PM. By general consent, the group moved from the Redeemer Lutheran Church cafeteria down the hall to the library, a more welcoming venue and just the right size for those assembled. She began by introducing other officers present.
President Roberts then asked if there were any comments on or amendments needed for the minutes that had been posted to the Wooten website. Hearing none, she asked if there was a motion to approve the minutes. Marilyn Rogers moved to approve the minutes as distributed; LaVerne Stauffer seconded the motion; the minutes were approved.
President Roberts then named the members who had served on the 2010 Nominating Committee: Joshua Merritt, Betsy Thaggard, and Marilyn Rogers. We have about 52 paid members. Merritt explained how they went about contacting members to ask for officer suggestions. Roberts reminded the membership that an individual could only serve in an office for two years. Marilyn Rogers and Betsy Thaggard volunteered again for the 2011 Nominating Committee, as did Victor Engel. Steve Rogers explained that it was not too difficult to serve as an officer, and Adam Turner said the one more time-consuming office might be that of the Secretary. Roberts said that Opie Gonzalez had taken on extra duties as the current WNA Treasurer, including correspondence with those seeking to place ads in the newsletter, getting WNA straight with the IRS and the state, and moving the WNA banking account to a new facility, Austin Telco Credit Union. Beverly Kimbrough suggested that the Vice-President might be considered as the President-in-waiting.
Single-Member District City Council and Travis County Redistricting
Beverly Kimbrough reported on recent meetings regarding the proposed single member City Council districts and Travis County redistricting. Travis County redistricting is being done in response to the 2010 census, shifting boundaries of the four districts to keep them relatively equal in number of residents. With a population that approaches one million, each district would need to have ca. 250,000 residents. WNA is currently in Precinct 2, which has grown more than other precincts and will need to shed some territory or otherwise revise its boundaries. Regarding Single-Member Districts, it seems unlikely that it will pass as proposed. Demographics are such that it would be difficult to ensure a black minority district. While voting is encouraged, there is a history of low voter turnout in east Austin. Other election topics were open voting (voters could vote at any poll location, as is done now in early voting), and instant run-offs (all candidates are ranked by voters in order of preference).
Steve Rogers commented that districts could be devised that wouldn’t split neighborhoods. Wording for the Single-Member District proposal is not yet determined. Roberts noted that moving to a district system for the City Council would mean redistricting every ten years. WNA is in a cusp area and might be shifted to another precinct. It was mentioned again that dividing the city up to preserve ethnic heritage wasn’t so simple anymore. Steve Rogers said that this part of the city has lots of children, with Wooldridge Elementary School being quite overcrowded. Austin probably should have redistricted five years ago due to the population increase. Kimbrough noted that the Austin Police Department has a history of difficulty setting its districts. The Wooten area tends to be overlooked by the city and for services such as Car2Go. We are included in Sustainable Neighborhoods’ set of associations, along with North Shoal Creek, Crestview, Allandale, and others. Roberts noted that SN was currently on a tree-planting drive, and listed several Wooten folks (herself, Opie Gonzalez, Bill Nichols, Joanne Clem…) that had mulched and watered in Wooten Park. It would do Wooten well to work towards putting the area on the city’s radar.
Treasurer Opie Gonzalez said that our WNA account had been successfully moved from Compass Bank to Austin Telco. We have $25.00 in a share balance (savings) account; our petty cash amount remained the same, $16.27. The checking account totaled $2,576.65 at the beginning of May, and $50.00 was reimbursed to the Treasurer for advancing the money to start the Telco account. We earned $ .32 interest, leaving the account at $2,526.97 at the end of the month. June activity included a deposit of $15.00 in dues and $ .31 in interest; June ending balance was $2,542.28. There was no July activity prior to the WNA meeting.
Gonzalez received kudos for his attention to the WNA financial matters beyond the usual range for the WNA Treasurer. There was a discussion about where the association might spend its money in support of neighborhood needs; school supplies and neighborhood watch signs were mentioned.
Discussion and Announcements
The group talked about subdivision names that had been associated with our neighborhood: Wooten, Wooten Park, Wooten Terrace, Allandale North. The subdivision name is part of the legal description of the properties and cannot be changed.
President Roberts, who has been instrumental in starting and keeping the WNA newsletter going, foresees her involvement diminishing. She spoke about the quarterly newsletter, how it helps with neighborhood cohesiveness. Her interest comes from her father and husband, who were newspapermen. Some activities associated with the newsletter that might need additional personnel in the future were listed.
1) Working with advertisers: As Treasurer, but going beyond the usual duties, Gonzalez has worked with newsletter advertisers, encouraging continued placement of ads by giving a discount for purchasing ads for three issues. The ads have helped to contribute some extra income to our treasury.
2) Helping to deliver the newsletters: Those who have helped with deliveries in the past are emailed when another issue is ready to distribute. More deliverers make for shorter routes.
3) Preparing bundles: The assembled bundles are individualized to those making the deliveries, copies per bundle depending on the size of the delivery route.
4) Writing for the newsletter: More authors are needed. The Yahoo group can be mined for topics; more school news would be good.
5) Assisting with editing/layout or working with the printer: Betsy Thaggard does layout and editing; the current printer is in the neighborhood.
* Marilyn Rogers reported that Sun Harvest would officially be known as Sprouts at some point in July or shortly thereafter. Signage was changing.
* Rogers also noted that the APD Commanders’ Forum was scheduled for Tuesday, July 12. It would cover part 3 of “Train the Trainer” classes. The new APD Burglary Unit would be introduced.
* Kevin Luke reported that someone had once again tried to kick in his door (third attempt). This time he needs to replace his door.
* The WNA APD District Representative is changing; it will no longer be Billy Simoneaux. There was some discussion about Neighborhood Watch now generating smaller watch groups, with individuals becoming aware of and watching out for their neighbors to each side, across the street, and behind.
* National Night Out will be celebrated in October in Austin. Celebrations around the neighborhood offer different activities and treats.
* There was note of the neighborhood’s concern regarding short-term home rentals.
* Steve Rogers reported that there had been no activities that required the intervention of the Wooten Neighborhood Plan Contact Team, whose focus is on proposed changes to land use as outlined in the Wooten Neighborhood Plan. It was stated that there were plans to alter the use of a building on Brockman near Anderson Lane; he expected to see notification of this proposed change.
* The membership was reminded of the recent death of our immediate past Treasurer and long-time WNA resident, Janie Riley.
* President Roberts noted that grocery carts were appearing in the neighborhood. She planned to write an article for the newsletter extolling neighbors who took personal action to settle problems. Other neighborhood concerns that have come up recently were “chop shop” activities and the unneighborly-like lights at the Charles Maund Toyota dealership. One of the members mentioned that some jurisdictions put fines on establishments for carts left on streets (Mullen was named as one of the WNA cart-abandoned streets). One possible solution for wandering carts were perimeter alarms that go off when carts cross trigger areas. It might be good to discuss the problem with city council staff.
* We should be vigilant about reporting crimes, using the 311 number when it is not an ongoing/threatening situation. Reporting all activity helps to keep the crime statistics up-to-date; one can use some of the crime summary websites to see what is happening in the neighborhood. The WNA Yahoo group is another spot to watch for reports of crime activity.
* Victor Engel is a new grandfather. On a different topic, he wondered if we should meet more often than every other month. We do have to reserve the meeting room for our gatherings, so the schedule would have to work with what the church had open.
* The discussion of chickens in back yards from the minutes of a previous meeting was brought up. The birds are supposed to be kept a certain distance from neighbors’ structures. There is no ordinance outlawing roosters. Perhaps guidelines for loud birds are similar to those of barking dogs. One member wished the minutes could explain in more detail the subject matter that was introduced at the meetings.
A motion was made by Adam Turner to adjourn the meeting; it was seconded by Steve Rogers. The meeting was adjourned at 8:22 PM.
The next WNA meeting is scheduled for 12 September 2011 at 7:00 PM.