July 2012 meeting minutes

Wooten Neighborhood Association

Meeting Minutes 7-9-12

President Joshua Merritt called the meeting to order at 7:07 pm in the Redeemer Lutheran School cafeteria. He outlined the agenda for the evening: reports on Neighborhood Watch, neighborhood ordinances, and the Wooten Neighborhood Plan Contact Team.

President Merritt opened the meeting by welcoming all new neighbors to the meeting.

Carolyn Spock made a motion to approve minutes from the May WNA meeting. Betsy Thaggard seconded the motion, and all members were in favor.

President Merritt congratulated the Neighborhood Watch committee for the progress that they had made. Chris Gregory brought an example of the Neighborhood Watch signs that the committee has ordered. Our group now has 25 signs, and 8 have been delivered to the city for free installation. Marilyn Rogers said that these 8 signs will go around the periphery of the neighborhood: Ohlen/Burnet, Teakwood/Burnet, Ohlen/Spearman, Putnam/Joy, Gault/Dale, 8202 Burrell, Lazy/Anderson, and Burrell/Dale (at the southwest corner of the park). The city has said that these signs will be installed in July. The sign supervisor has the final say if they can be installed. Ninety percent of all requests are approved.

Marilyn explained the committee’s process for installing signs. First, they took an inventory of the current signs and their condition. Then, they decided where to take down and replace existing signs. Next, the committee pursued a grant that covers the cost of the installation of 10 signs per year. Also, they ordered 25 signs at the cost of $798, and they created a prioritized list of locations for the signs. Before installing or removing signs, the committee had to get permission from the adjacent property owners. Because we get 10 free sign installations per year, the committee will wait until next year to install the next 10 signs.

Burton Anderson reported on other Neighborhood Watch business. We have 2 upcoming trainings for Neighborhood Watch Block Captains and Patrols on Monday, July 16 at 7:30 PM in the Redeemer Lutheran school cafeteria and on Saturday, July 28 at 10:30 AM at the North Village branch library meeting room. Also, we have ordered and received 2 pairs of magnetic car signs for the neighborhood patrol. These car signs will increase visibility of the Neighborhood Watch. Also, we have ordered Neighborhood Watch business cards at the suggestion of our police district representative.

One of our new neighbors asked the long-time residents how crime is in the neighborhood. President Merritt answered that we experienced a rash of break-ins 9-10 months ago, but that these seemed to have tapered off in recent months. Burton Anderson said that crime in the neighborhood is on par with urban areas. The pattern is really citywide. Police are spread thin, so the Neighborhood Watch committee is trying to do everything they can to address crime. The group is focused mostly on property crimes (burglary and break-ins). Steve Rogers reported that vehicle break-ins are the most prevalent crimes in Austin and are most common along the 183 border of the neighborhood. President Merritt commented that vehicle break-ins seemed to have slowed down according to chatter on the WNA listserv. Chris Gregory reported that he spotted a suspicious vehicle in front of his home and immediately called 311. Ten minutes later, he noticed a police patrol car. President Merritt encouraged neighbors to be proactive and to relay concerns to the city. Also, if you notice a unfamiliar vehicle or person, he advises making yourself visible.

A new couple just bought a house on Palmwood Cove. Before they lived in a rental property in the neighborhood. Their rental home was burglarized twice. The second time, they noticed a child’s footprint on the counter, so they assumed that the burglars used the child to enter through a small window. Another neighbor reported that she had seen a small child get arrested for trying to break into a car yesterday. Another neighbor reported that her house had been broken into last November. The burglar must have entered through the small kitchen window, which was intact. Perhaps a small child had entered through the window?

Betsy Thaggard gave a short reminder about code violations. Be sure to call 311 if you notice someone parking in their yard or any abandoned vehicles. President Merritt has seen results with his calls to 311 to report abandoned cars and mattresses. He encouraged neighbors to report non-emergency situations to the city.

Steve Rogers gave an update on the Wooten Neighborhood Plan Contact Team (WNPCT). They will be meeting next Monday, July 16 at 7 PM at the Mi Casa restaurant on Peyton Gin. The neighborhood plan was passed in 2004 and is available on wootenna.com. The contact team is a group of people to contact in the event that someone wants to amend the Future Land Use Map, which reflects zoning of land in the neighborhood. No one has tried to amend the plan in the entire time since the plan was passed. However, at some point, a developer may want to build high-density apartments or the city may develop a comprehensive plan that conflicts with the goals of the neighborhood plan. The group is important because they must be willing to respond to these conflicts and alert everyone in the neighborhood in these situations.

Steve Rogers explained that the WNPCT will need to elect a new chairman and secretary at the September meeting. They would like to have some idea of nominees at next Monday’s meeting. President Merritt made a call to action for people to volunteer for these positions and pointed out that these positions do not require much effort beyond attending dinner meetings every couple of months. Marilyn Rogers added that the WNPCT works as a team, so there will be lots of experienced people to help the new officers.

President Merritt commented on new businesses in the area. He noticed that Eastside Pies is opening in the tiny pizza stand near Anderson/Mullen. Betsy Thaggard commented that she is happy to highlight new businesses in future WNA newsletters. Opie Gonzalez encouraged neighbors to submit content for the newsletters by contacting Betsy at betsy@bthaggard.com.

Marilyn Rogers gave the Treasurer’s Report. Our account is with TETCO Federal Credit Union. On June 30 we had a balance of $2951.84. We spent $100 on patrol signs, $202 on the July newsletter, $798.75 on 25 Neighborhood Watch signs, and $25.08 on Neighborhood Watch business cards and laminated maps. We spent a total of $1125.83, and we have $1826.01 in available funds.

Marilyn is trying to set up a charge account at Office Depot in order to make it easier for Neighborhood Watch committee members to pay for copies, etc. She plans to open an account in which the WNA Treasurer will pay off the balance within 30 days of purchase. The only downside is that she will be personally responsible if WNA does not have the funds to pay off the balance. There were no objections raised about this arrangement.

President Merritt reported that officers will be elected at the next WNA meeting in September. All the current officers are eligible to run again and plan to serve an additional term. However, any current WNA members are free to run. A Nominating Committee was formed to spread the word about the upcoming election. Sarah Gregory, Opie Gonzalez, Burton Anderson, Steve Rogers, and Billy agreed to serve on the committee. They will make phone calls to current WNA members to inform them about the election and other upcoming Neighborhood Watch events.

President Merritt provided an open floor to any neighbors with issues that they would like to discuss. Carmen Maverick expressed appreciation to all the neighbors who had commented on the Honeywell salesman on the yahoo listserv and Wooten Neighborhood Facebook page. President Merritt explained that this salesman had been making neighbors uncomfortable by asking them personal questions about their home security and requesting to enter their homes. He was aggressive and persistent. Carmen asked if it would be appropriate to contact the company to tell them that their sales representative is unwelcome in the neighborhood. President Merritt acknowledged that members of WNA felt threatened or harassed by the sales representative. He encouraged neighbors to ask to see salespeople’s credentials and to call the police if someone seems suspicious. Carmen suggested that this topic be addressed in future newsletters.

Chris Gregory moved to adjourn the meeting at 7:55 PM, and Burton Anderson seconded the motion. All members agreed, and the motion carried.

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