WNA November Meeting Minutes, 1/11/16

Wooten Neighborhood Association
Meeting Minutes
1/11/2016 at Divine Redeemer

Joel Simmons Presiding

Joanne Garret reported that the Association’s adoption of several families for Christmas 2015 was a huge success and much appreciated.  Also, she would like the Association to consider a “fill the backup” school supply drive for July.

Several first time members were introduced: Jon, Alexis, Carol, Niele, and Ronnie all came out for Wooten.

Treasurer’s Report
We recently deposited $610 worth of donations, dues, and advertising income.
We have recently withdrawn funds for items including Champion Printing for the newsletter, and the Neighborhood Watch sign hardware.
We have $2382.56 overall in the account, with $1117.47 of that earmarked for the park fund.

Officer Chapman’s Report
His little boy is doing well (18 lbs!) and sleeping through the night, so Officer Chapman is back on the job!
Officer Chapman and his squad will now be handling abandoned vehicles and vehicle “abatement” – please be patient as they learn the ropes.
He could use help getting NextDoor software to authorize him to send us messages.  Waiting on action from NextDoor for quite a while.
The 183 and I-35 cleanup effort, focused on trash and homeless camps, is ongoing.
Two officers were recently promoted out of his unit, and training of new candidates is ongoing.
The Commander’s Forum is postponed and he will contact us with the new schedule when it is made.
He will try to work with Marilyn Rogers to set up a Neighborhood Watch training program.

Park Committee Update (Hannah Frankel and Bryce)
They will be meeting with Wooten Elementary and the Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD)
A handout showing examples of these items and their costs was passed around.
The location of the improvements will be either near the gravel loop trail, or just north of the playground; engineers will be consulted.
ADA – accessible picnic tables are an option that will be considered
There are two possible grants the Committee will pursue for funding assistance:
1) The Austin Parks Foundation grant, due April 30th, up to $50,000.  We would need to supply about 20% of that, which will require the Association to perform some fundraising, possibly involving local businesses.
2) The PARD Neighborhood Partnering Program, which may match the APF grant above.
The City will make sure we have buy-in from at least 60% of the adjacent homeowners before approving the project.
A concern was raised for future consideration about whether there are legal liability issues with the proposed structure.
A point was raised that the park can be well surveyed from all sides, discouraging camping in the proposed structure.
A question was raised whether the Association could join forces with another Association and receive a bulk discount.
A question was raised about who would empty the trash; the answer given from multiple sources that the City would do so; if it could not, it wouldn’t approve the project.
A point was raised that a lot of the park users are apartment dwellers and that they could really use the shade in the summer as they watch their children play.
A point was raised that to connect with the apartment folks in the future we could go though Wooten Elementary School.
A concern was raised whether having recycle bins would attract vagrants wanting the recyclables.
A question was raised whether the recycling would be single stream.

The Association voted unanimously to pursue a “pavilion + tables + trash can” option over a more modest “tables + trash can” option.

Friends of Austin Neighborhoods (FAN) discussion : Roger Cauvin
Roger is on the board of his Neighborhood Association, and the president of FAN.
Roger stated:
FAN wants to improve and diversify the representation of the neighborhoods in Austin.
FAN finds it important that “neighborhood” means “everybody”.
FAN welcomes abundant and diverse housing.
FAN is 9 months old, and has 10 Neighborhood Associations members and close to 100 individual members
FAN is involved with the City in developing CodeNEXT
FAN has initiatives for helping neighborhood leaders navigate the City processes
FAN supports plans for grand projects planned not by developers but by neighborhoods, then bid by developers
Under FAN, the Highland NA has developed a map notification tool that allows you to be informed whenever an area of interest comes up for action at the City Council.
If the Wooten NA were to join FAN, the responsibilities would be voting on policies and participation in the process.  There are no fees.  We would be asked to share our expertise and select a delegate to vote for our NA.
The FAN decision process: any member can put forward a resolution, Discussion happens over time, mostly online.  A FAN board member is needed eventually to sponsor the resolution for it to come to a vote.  The membership is then given notice, and a voting period of about a week, including secure online voting, occurs.  All resolutions require 60% majority to become FAN policy.
Neighborhood Associations get one vote, and all of the “at large” individual members combine to have one vote, although the “at large” may soon be changing to more a Council-district based mechanism.
The website for FAN’s forums is forums.atxfriends.org.
Marilyn Rogers, as our outgoing Austin Neighborhood Council (ANC) representative, found the ANC tough to talk to and be heard at, although they do have a lot of influence.  Our ANC membership is expiring and would require a $50 fee to renew.
The point was made that the Association could join both FAN and ANC.
A concern was raised about a statement on the FAN website that implied City concerns would outweigh neighborhood concerns.

A secret ballot was taken regarding joining the FAN.
Counting of the ballots yielded a result of 18 for joining FAN, 2 against.

Night Owl Introduction : Danny and Jonathan
The Night Owl will be opening in June at 8315 Burnet; it is a restaurant and bar.  The owners came to our meeting to introduce themselves and ask for ideas or opinions on what they can offer our residents.  They currently have a bar on Sixth Street but were quick to say this would not be a 6th Street style bar, but a neighborhood bar.

City Councilmember Leslie Pool’s report
The head of Austin Energy left.  CM Pool would like the neighborhoods to have a voice in choosing the next one; meeting some pushback from the mayor.
Council is working on a system for evaluating their direct reports.
CM Pool is working with the Clerk on campaign finance reform, as well as working in tandem with the League of Women Voters on lobbyist registration at the City level.  Ethics and good government are of particular concern.
Some of the Quarter Cent allocation will be spent on the North Lamar hybrid pedestrian crossing; the money was targeted largely towards pedestrians and school zones.
CM Pool fought for increased park allocation, and worked to keep Sheffield Park pool open.  There is work on a bond for aquatics.
Property tax rates are a continuing concern.
CM Pool feels we should be able to invest in projects now while times are good.
CM Pool supports continued funding of Health and Human Services, and supports the $15/hr wage for City contractors, and sees wages as part of affordability.
CM Pool sees lowering utility bills as a viable way to lower costs for renters.
CM Pool supported the work with the Austin Apartment Association to house Austin’s homeless veterans.

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