WNA January Meeting Minutes, 1/13/14

Wooten Neighborhood Association

Minutes from the WNA Meeting, January 13, 2014

President Chris Gregory called the meeting to order at 7:00pm.

Sarah Gregory moved to approve the minutes from the November meeting, and Steve Rogers seconded the motion; by a vote, members present approved the minutes.

Sarah gave a Treasurer’s report. She said WNA has received $296.74 in dues and donations since November. The Park Fund currently has a balance of $166.21. We’ve received $25 for an ad in the newsletter, and we had to pay $60 for our P.O. Box and $12.54 for supplies at Office Depot. That leaves WNA with an ending balance of $1461.41.

Officer Hebbe, the APD District Representative for the area including Wooten, spoke about crime and safety updates. He said that over the last two months there have been eight vehicle burglaries and six residential burglaries in the neighborhood. He said that the recent carjacking on Rockwood and Anderson was likely unrelated to the one that happened on Burrell last fall. Officer Hebbe said he talked to a number of local school officials and neighbors to see what we can come up with to improve things around the Wooten Park Drive area so that residents there are not fearful of APD. He said he had contacted some of the owners and managers of the apartments on Wooten Park Drive, and he hopes that outreach will improve some of the safety concerns in that area.

Betsy Thaggard asked about the apartments on Gault; Officer Hebbe said that while those apartments can be a concern, the ones on Wooten Park Drive seem to draw the most attention, crime-wise.

Betsy then mentioned that the new asphalt striping on Ohlen seemed to have slowed cars down for a little while, but now it’s back to how it was before the striping. Officer Hebbe said he would try to get a speeding trailer that flashes drivers’ speeds to have at on both Ohlen and Teakwood to try to reduce speeding.

Officer Hebbe brought up the Amber Alert that had gone out around midnight a few weeks ago, and said that the alert had not come from APD, but rather through phone carriers. Linda Ritzen said the alert called various landlines as well as cell phones, at different hours of the night. Various neighbors suggested people who received the alerts call their wireless and landline phone companies to see what their options are.

Mike Gorse provided a light rail update. He said that Project Connect had decided on East Riverside Drive and Highlands as the areas it will serve by a new light rail line. Mike said that other people felt Guadalupe and Lamar would have been a better area to serve, but their interests did not win out. He said that these areas would possibly be served by bus rapid transit, but most likely it will be by light rail. Mike mentioned that Scott Morris of the Central Austin Community Development Corporation has started a PAC, which now advocates for a Guadalupe/Lamar alignment of a new transportation corridor.

Mike said it might be worth having a neighborhood resolution at some point supporting a corridor that aligns with Guadalupe/Lamar, but that seems premature at this point.

Betsy asked if it was likely that the corridor would come as far north as Anderson, and whether Wooten would be in support out of hope that sometime in the future such a line would be extended as far north as our neighborhood. Someone mentioned that one of the proposed plans did extend as far north as the Lamar Transit Center at Lamar and Research Blvd.

Jay Garrett spoke about the need for neighbors themselves to take action about the apartments on Wooten Park Drive, because the efforts by APD were not likely to do much. Reaching out to the property landlords to encourage them to improve the buildings in order to raise rents and increase revenue was discussed, as were possible investment strategies in the area.

Laura Tomlinson and Joanne Garrett provided a Park Committee update. Laura said the park is looking much better than it was a year ago, thanks to new benches, 70 new trees, and a new sign. The committee is hoping to raise $1000 for landscaping the sign. Saturday 3/1/14 is My Park Day, and people can sign up online at the Austin Parks website by 2/10/14. The goal for that day is to landscape the new park sign, repair the gravel path, repaint the benches and park sign, and remove graffiti. Laura said they are currently applying for grants, and hoping to get a new water fountain, and eventually a dog run area for the park. A neighborhood garage sale option was suggested for the end of April or beginning of May to raise money for the park fund.

Betsy warned neighbors that there have been lots of very quick, efficient car break-ins near Brentwood Park, so neighbors should be cautious when venturing into Brentwood and parking near the park there.

Chris briefly discussed the need to get permission from property owners to put up or replace the crime watch signs in the neighborhoods, and this would require some door knocking to get that permission from affected neighbors.

Rick Krivoniak spoke about the apartments at 2301 Ohlen Dr., at the intersection of Bowling Green and Ohlen, which have eliminated some of their parking spaces; this constitutes a change to their exterior site. Rick said he made some calls, and the city inspector will go by the property tomorrow. Rick said that the property should not be people moving in yet, and he encouraged neighbors to call 311 with concerns about the property.

Betsy said that the Wooten NextDoor group online is a good platform for collaboration, and encouraged neighbors to join it if they haven’t already.

Dale Ritzen moved to adjourn the meeting, and Betsy seconded; the meeting was adjourned at  8:01pm.

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