In the absence of President Joshua Merritt, Vice-President Carolyn Spock called the May meeting to order at ca. 7:15 PM in the the Redeemer Lutheran Church cafeteria. It was noted that she would also be taking notes for the meeting, as Secretary Sarah Gregory had had a death in the family.
VP Spock reminded the members that the minutes had been posted to the WNA website previously and asked if there were any corrections or a motion to approve. Steve Rogers moved to approve the minutes of the 11 March 2013 meeting as distributed; Opie Gonzalez seconded the motion; the minutes were approved.
Treasurer Marilyn Rogers said that our WNA checking account balance was $1,753.80. We had received the $250 mini grant for park improvement as well as $250 for ad income. There were 41 paid memberships, with another two joining at this meeting.
Discussion on Neighborhood Watch and Recent Crime Problems
Several new-to-us folks were at the meeting, and break-ins were a major topic of concern. Burton Anderson, WNA crime watch person, updated the association on the neighborhood watch program and reported in general on crime in Austin. He pointed out that crime was up all over the city. In the Wooten area, there was a thought that the upswing in crime might be caused by miscreants from the Rundberg area moving into Wooten. Anderson explained that we had put up new Neighborhood Watch signs in the neighborhood, and that more were planned to go in next year using the city’s ability to install 10 a year per group. He mentioned the training sessions that were available to interested neighbors and noted that we had magnetic signs to place on cars of volunteers who would agree to patrol the neighborhood. Four individuals had shown up to talk about neighborhood watch activities at an earlier gathering. Block captain training was also being taught, with a session scheduled at the North Village library on Saturday, June 8. Residents were urged to know their neighbors.
Mary Arnett from North Shoal Creek attended the WNA meeting and had several announcements. She mentioned that the Austin Police Department indicated that it needed 92 additional officers to help cover the increasing population. She also invited us to the Shoal Creek Fest that was being held on Saturday, May 25, at the Shoal Crossing Event Center just off northbound MoPac access road near National Tire and Battery. Nearby neighborhoods might want to participate by getting booths.
Arnett went back to the topic of neighborhood awareness, reminding everyone to be on the lookout whenever going through the neighborhood, suggesting that we keep a notepad handy to jot down license numbers or details of some activity that doesn’t look right, use our cellphone cameras to snap a picture to document what is seen. It isn’t necessary to confront individuals, but do be prepared to let authorities know if you have a concern. Call in graffiti and code violations. We were also reminded about making sure our exterior doors’ throw plate screws were three inches long to hamper having doors kicked in. Our new APD District Representative is Officer Joe Hebbe. We have had frequently changing DR’s, making community policing difficult – not enough training, too much moving around.
Steve Rogers explained about DR’s and community policing, and agreed that the APD DR officers do change too often and don’t make it to meetings where members of the neighborhood can get to know them. There seem to be lots of waived fees that could go toward various city expenses. Rogers reiterated that we should know our neighbors and watch their property, calling if something seems out of kilter.
Following a break-in, a neighbor described a situation of new renters nearby where there was an extraordinary amount of traffic, people and cars coming to and going from the house. Cars were observed, and one in which family members were seen was identified showing the logo “Signature Design.” A check of the company name indicated it did not exist in Austin. The neighbor noted that they were upping their security measures. Parents were encouraged to let their children know which neighbors to look to when help is needed. In another instance, an SUV was described as pulling up to youngsters heading to school. The neighborhood observer yelled at the children not to talk to strangers. In trying to track down details about the rental house with all the traffic, Steve Rogers said that one might use information from the Travis Central Appraisal District to locate landlords. A lot of owners in our area live out-of-state.
Crestview residents have been reporting that packages left by delivery services were being taken from near front doors. Could there be more police patrols or could additional street lights be installed to light up the area? Security audits of homes would help to point out weak spots in homeowner security. Someone asked about the procedure to request street bumps. A traffic study to prove need is required.
National Night Out was discussed. Though it is held in August in much of the country, the Austin area celebrates these neighborhood gatherings in October when outside temperatures aren’t so uncomfortable. Celebrations can be informal, or groups can register to have police or a fire truck stop by.
Adam Turner said that there would be a Wooten Neighborhood Plan Contact Team meeting the following Monday, May 20, at Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant. Turner, Chair of the WNPCT, explained that the group advises the city about neighborhood concerns and is separate from the neighborhood association.
It was mentioned that a car lot owner (Bryan Hardeman, owner of Austin Infiniti, First Texas Honda, etc.) had bought the property at 8100 Burnet Road where Ross Dress for Less is located. There was some discussion about recent changes to the beauty salon and apartments on the south side of the Ohlen and Bowling Green intersection.
Betsy Thaggard said that the WNA newsletter would be published in June and asked for additional walker-distributors.
There will be a meeting about Wooten Park at 7:00 PM on Tuesday at Genuine Joe’s.
There will be a Quarterly Contact Team Training session at 6:00 PM in the third floor training room at One Texas Center on Wednesday, 15 May. Implementing Neighborhood Plans through the Capital Improvement Program will be the topic, and copies of Imagine Austin, the Neighborhood Plan Implementation Guide, as well as adopted neighborhood plans will be distributed.
A motion was made by Betsy Thaggard to adjourn the meeting; it was seconded by Opie Gonzalez. The meeting was adjourned at 8:18 PM.
The next WNA meeting is scheduled for 8 July 2013 at 7:00 PM.