WNA Meeting Minutes 7-8-13

Wooten Neighborhood Association

July 8, 2013 Meeting Minutes

President Joshua Merritt called the meeting to order at 7 pm. Steve Rogers made a motion to approve the minutes from the May meeting. David Tomlinson seconded the motion, and all members approved.

Marilyn Rogers gave the Treasurer’s Report. As of June 30, WNA has a balance of $1748.93. We have 1 outstanding check in the amount of $232 for the newsletter printing. Also, Marilyn mentioned that we need to follow-up with advertisers because we are not getting checks. Lisa Golden is in charge of advertising, and we need to remind her to send invoices.

President Merritt asked the new attendees to introduce themselves: Jeff Martin & Daphne Perez have lived on Renton/Doris for the past 8 years; John Rose recently moved to 2003 Wooten Drive; Stuart Sharp has lived at Ohlen/Kimble since February.

President Merritt reminded the members that we will be electing officers at the September meeting. All the current officers have reached the 2-year term limit, so we need fresh people for all positions: president, vice-president, secretary, and treasurer. Steve Rogers, Betsy Thaggard, and Chris Gregory volunteered to serve on the Nominating Committee. They will email and/or call all 49 current WNA members to remind them that elections will be happening at the September meeting. Also, they will present a slate of officers to be nominated at the September meeting. At that point, any other WNA members may run for an office.

Steve Rogers provided some background information on the WNA to all the new members. He explained that the WNA meets on odd months and that new officers will start in November. The boundaries of Wooten are 183, Burnet, and Anderson Lane.

Marilyn Rogers provided an update from the Neighborhood Watch Committee. The committee met on June 25 to recommend a list of 10 locations for installation of Wooten Neighborhood Watch signs. The city will install 4-10 neighborhood watch signs for free each year, and we have 16 signs remaining from our original order. The locations are: Burrell & Becket (removal), Lazy & Anderson, Mullen & Wooten, Shadowood & Ohlen, across from Burnet Middle School on Doris, Bowling Green & Colfax, 8501 Contour (relocated), Brockman & Anderson, and Dale & Gault. Marilyn asked for suggestions from the group for additions to the list. Betsy Thaggard recommended Polaris & Burnet, and Laura Tomlinson recommended that the rusty sign on Villanova & Burrell be removed. David Tomlinson recommended Fairfield coming into the neighborhood, but Betsy Thaggard felt sure that there is already one there near the convenience store. Joshua Merritt mentioned that the rusty sign by his house also be removed. Marilyn is not sure of the cost of sign removal, but she will look into this. She passed around a map of the current and proposed sign locations. Contact Marilyn Rogers if you have suggestions about the neighborhood watch signs.

Betsy Thaggard brought up the magnetic car signs that the WNA purchased for neighborhood watch members to conduct car patrols. They were being stored at Burton Anderson’s house but have not been used. Joshua Merritt said that he still supports the neighborhood patrols, but we need other people to support this. Betsy suggested that neighbors put the signs on their cars when running errands. Joshua asked where we should store the signs. Betsy said she doesn’t mind holding onto them because she works from home. Chris Gregory suggested that at each WNA meeting, 4 people volunteer to use the magnetic car signs as much as possible during the 2-month period between meetings. Betsy agreed to contact Burton in order to get the signs from him.

Betsy discussed the “Train the Trainer” sessions that are sponsored by the police department. Marilyn Rogers has attended these sessions, and they teach you things like how to observe better or how to make your house more visible to neighbors. She said that they are interesting and worthwhile trainings.

Laura Tomlinson gave an update on the Wooten Park. We will be getting a new sign on the corner of Wooten Park on October 1. It will have metal poles and be larger than the current sign. It will be provided by the city at no cost to us. Laura and JoAnne Clem submitted a “Keep Austin Beautiful” grant to landscape around the sign. They completed a sketch of the garden, which is xeriscaped so it will not need much water. However, they will need volunteers to help take care of the garden, especially in the first year after it is planted.

Laura told us that the city will be installing 100-200 native 5-gallon trees (such as sycamore and mountain laurel)  in the park along with a drip-irrigation system. Manuel Flores, an arborist with the city, has been meeting with Laura and JoAnne, and he has provided a map of the proposed tree locations. The tree planting will take place on October 26, Austin Arbor Day, and Laura will send out more information as this time approaches.  Adam Turner expressed some concerns about slope of the land and poor drainage at some locations in the park. He feels that an arborist should advise us, and that we need to look at the overall ecosystem as part of the project. David Tomlinson assured Adam that Manuel Flores is an urban forest specialist with city parks, and he feels that he has knowledge of these issues. Laura also mentioned that our group does have a say in the tree-planting. The city chose Wooten Park because it lacks many trees, and we have an active group that participates in park activities, such as It’s My Park Day. Adam Turner said that he is excited because this is the most proactive that the city has been in reaching out to our neighborhood. Joshua Merritt suggested that we get a second opinion from an arborist validating the species and runoff concerns. Betsy Thaggard suggested John Garner, an arborist who lives in Crestview.

Adam Turner brought up the idea that the park is a huge space, and he wondered if there are any other ideas about the use of the space. Joshua Merritt mentioned that he and Betsy had recently discussed the park. They both like the idea of the Kite Festival. They feel that the community and park would benefit from greater visibility. They also like the idea of an off-leash dog park. Basically, they discussed ideas for the park space that would not require a lot of up-keep. For example, the butterfly garden that the WNA planted along with volunteers from Wooten Elementary has already died. Adam is encouraged by the fact that there will be a new principal at Wooten Elementary. He feels that the WNA should reach out to the new principal in the fall. Joshua Merritt asked the members if we had other ideas for the park space that would not require a lot of maintenance. He also questioned why the park signs state that there can be no organized sports. Steve Rogers clarified that it means that leagues cannot compete there. Sam McGlamary said that years ago organized sports teams played in the park. The neighbors who lived along Wooten Drive complained to the city about the noise from people playing ball, players urinating in public, and people consuming alcohol. Laura Tomlinson said that in her hometown sports teams had to schedule games with the city so that the park was not over-used because sports teams can cause damage to the park. Adam pointed out that now the park is completely unused. John Rose asked if there is a public restroom in the park. Sam McGlamary said that there was a portable restroom at one point. Steve Rogers said that several sports teams compete at the field next to Burnet Middle School: the Austin Huns, Pee-Wee Soccer, and an adult Mexican soccer league. The school district oversees the field, and they installed lighting and a portable restroom, and they maintain the grass. Sometimes there is litter, but they clean it up. Steve said that he likes that people use the park. Stuart Sharp said that he likes the dog park idea; he feels that it would be pretty low-maintenance. Adam Turner said that he foresees some challenges to the dog park; some people abandon dogs or they don’t clean up after the dogs. He said that a sense of community will  help enforce behavior. David Tomlinson brought up that the park is a yard for all the apartment dwellers in the neighborhood. He said that we need to remember that the park is important to them. Michelle suggested that we build community gardens, but she is not sure if water is available nearby. Betsy Thaggard said that vandalism is a concern. Joshua said that when he installed an urban farm in his front yard, he was very concerned about people trespassing on his property. However, this has never happened. He feels that gardens bring people together and that they should not be fenced. Steve Rogers said that people watching is what prevents vandalism. Joshua asked for volunteers to explore ideas for the park. He agreed to research dog parks, in particular city regulations and dog parks in other Austin neighborhoods.

Laura Tomlinson continued her report on Wooten Park. The city took out old benches because they are going to be replaced. Currently, the benches are unshaded, but she hopes the upcoming tree planting will help provide shade for the new benches. Also, Laura and JoAnne Clem would like to apply for a grant with the Austin Parks Foundation. They award grants for $500- $5000. Laura and JoAnne suggested a trail for jogging, exercise equipment, a graffiti abatement program, and replacing the drinking fountain (which only costs $1200). JoAnne brought up that the grants expect our neighborhood to match the grant money with labor or money. Volunteer hours are worth approximately $10.50 an hour.

Joshua asked the group how “ad hoc” we want to improve the park. Would we rather have a complete plan for the park. Opie Gonzalez agreed that he preferred a complete plan. Adam Turner said that he would like us to have a documented master plan for the park. Opie mentioned that a few years ago someone designed a complete plan for the park that included a running trail. Laura Tomlinson said that the city has a copy of the plan and that Manuel Flores, the city arborist, showed it to her. Steve Rogers asked about the deadlines for the grants. He suggested that we ask for something small, like replacing the drinking fountain, so that we only have to match a small amount. Steve Rogers made a motion that we write an Austin Parks Foundation grant to replace the drinking fountain. Chris Gregory seconded the motion, and all members approved.

Adam Turner brought up the idea of corporate signage. Would we be okay with businesses being recognized for contributions to the park? David Tomlinson pointed out that he is not sure the city is okay with this. If it were well-defined, he might be okay with this. JoAnne Clem mentioned that the park trash cans are due to be replaced in another 3 years. Laura Tomlinson said that there is a cycle of when park trash cans are replaced.

Stuart Sharp mentioned that Google Fiber is coming to Austin. He would like people in our neighborhood to sign up because he feels this would be good for property values. Betsy Thaggard pointed out that Google prefers older neighborhoods because their utilities are above-ground. Steve Rogers said he would like to see Google Fiber get started with AISD.

John Rose asked if there are other chicken-raisers in the neighborhood. He also wondered if there are any policies regarding chicken-raising. Joshua said that in the original deed restrictions from 1961 there were livestock provisions. However, he is not sure if the deed restrictions are valid in neighborhoods without Homeowners Associations. Steve Rogers said that city ordinances are what is enforced.

Adam Turner encouraged new members to consider running for office at the next WNA meeting. He pointed out that some positions, such as treasurer and secretary, require minimal effort.

Betsy Thaggard asked if the WNA has a say in the cleanliness and safety of apartments in the neighborhood. She wondered if we could have formal correspondence with the landlords or management of the apartments. Joshua said he would be fine with polite correspondence. Steve Rogers pointed out that we are a neighborhood association, so neighbors do not have to own their home to join our organization. Betsy said that she is particularly concerned about the conditions on Fireside Loop. She heard lots of (illegal) fireworks on the 4th of July, and she frequently sees discarded furniture, such as soiled mattresses, on the curb. Also, she read about the loud noises and music on Wooten Park Drive that was discussed on the listserve. Joshua pointed out that we could look up the property owners. Betsy has looked up some of the owners. Many of them live in Pflugerville or Round Rock.

Adam Turner moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:35 pm. Steve Rogers seconded the motion, and all members approved.

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