Wooten Neighborhood Association Meeting Minutes – March 2023

  1. Call to Order: The meeting was called to order at 7:07 pm. The meeting was held at the lunch room in the Redeemer School. The meeting was called to order by the president. 
  2. Introductions:  The attendees went around introducing themselves, including how long they have lived in the neighborhood and where they live.  There were 11 Wooten neighbors attending the meeting. This includes neighbors that lived in various parts of the neighborhood, including neighbors from Burrell, Kromer, Fairfield, Weyford, Kenbridge, and Putnam streets. 
  3. Neighborhood Activities Report: The President began the meeting by discussing the Wootenanny that occurred in February. There were about 50 people or so at the last event. The goal will be to do these quarterly, with the next event in late April or May. The location will rotate so more details on that soon. 
  4. Austin Energy: The President introduced Austin Energy. Stewart Riley, Interim Deputy General Manager and Chief Operating Officer, was there to provide a presentation on the energy services to the Wooten Neighborhood. During the presentation, Austin Energy covered the following items:
    1. Power Outage: Power outages don’t correspond to the neighborhood but the circuits, which is why different parts of the neighborhood were restored at different times during the last outage. 
    2. Circuits: Wooten is served by three circuits: MP-05, MP-03, and MP-07.  The majority of the neighborhood is served by MP-05. Riley provided statistics on the outages for these circuits over the past five years. Most of the outages were weather related. 
    3. Tree Trimming: Austin Energy will begin tree trimming in the neighborhood around mid-June. Before they begin the tree trimming, they notify the neighborhood association and then send letters to individual properties. These letters are typically sent 10 days prior to the tree trimming.
      1. Trees that are considered invasive are trimmed back 15 feet from power lines while slow-growing trees are trimmed back 10 feet. 
      2. Trees that need to be trimmed are marked with green ribbons, and trees that need to be removed are marked with pink ribbons.
      3. Typically, the tree trimming contractors will walk with the homeowner on the plan for which trees to be removed. Homeowners can hire their own arborist to meet with the tree trimming company if they have any concerns.
        If the homeowner is not home, the tree trimming company will come back.
    1. Winter Storm Mara: Austin Energy went over the events of the ice storm. The restoration occurred in three phases: initial, second, and third.
      1. Some of the challenges: as restorations occurred, additional outages were being called because trees were still breaking. The restoration took a long time because the trees were breaking in people’s backyard and they would have to restore each line in the backyards before they could fix or bring a circuit back.  Some of the restorations in phase 2 were because communication lines broke into the electrical lines, which made the restorations difficult.  The last phase required the customer to fix something in their home before power could be restored. 
      2. The Wooten Neighborhood was mostly impacted when MP-05  had an outage that began on February 1 at 7:38 am. This was a circuit lockout, which opens the breaker at the substation so electricity just stops flowing. All 1749 customers on that circuit were impacted. They were able to restore the power to the circuit on February 3, but then they had an additional 25 embedded outages that needed to be worked on before all customers on the circuit could be restored. Many of these embedded outages were due to downed trees and repair crews had to trim the tree, including some by hand, before power was fully restored. This was a similar case to those that were on the MP-03 circuit. The breaker on this circuit was locked out as well due to the vegetation. 
    2. Questions and Answers:
      1. Oak Trimming: Last year, Austin Energy came by and trimmed a tree in the neighborhood. In one case, they trimmed a red oak during oak wilt season which seemed concerning to the homeowner. Austin Energy clarified that they typically don’t trim Oak trees during the Oak Wilt season. If they do, they sterilize all the equipment and seal any of the cuts. Austin Energy has arborists on staff to help with these issues.
      2. Communication: Will there be pre-warning on ice storms or when events will escalate? The weather prediction for Mara did not show a significant accumulation, but it ended up with about 7/10th of an inch of ice which was a significant impact. With climate change, Austin Energy should begin expecting worse outcomes than predicted to be prepared.
        1. The City representative clarified that a lot of the weather  communication comes from the city. The hope that communication will improve and be more efficient in the future. 
        2. Customers should prepare for weather impacts, including signing up for outage alerts. The resources that are listed on the back of the presentation are available in various languages, including Spanish. 
      3. Tree Trimming Clearance: Is Austin Energy reconsidering the tree clearance requirements?  Austin Energy is within the guidelines of other cities on tree trimming so it is not being considered. However, Austin Energy may need to look at the thoroughness of the program. 
      4. Lack of Coverage: Texas A&M believes that 10 millions trees were lost during the last storm. Is this going to impact the energy output in the summer?  Austin Energy will have to wait and see what occurs. From summer to summer, the load varies. 
      5. More Trees: Any consideration of adding more trees? Tree Folks partners with Austin Energy to get the right tree in the right place.
      6. Hackberry Trees: How do you address the Hackberry trees that grow in the ROW? When they get to within 15 feet of the power line, the city will cut them. You will need to call 311 to remove the trees. 
      7. Kudos to the crews for all the work that they did. 
  1. School Activities Report  – Wooten Elementary – A Wooten Elementary representative came by to discuss school activities:
    1. Wooten Elementary Modernization – The elementary school is getting a complete remodel. The modernization will begin next December. Currently, the school is looking for volunteers to serve on the modernization and architectural team committee. Depending on the plan (whether it’s a full teardown or a remodel), the plan is to have the school complete by the end of 2025. 
    2. Pre-K Program -The school currently has availability in the Pre-K 3 and 4 program. These programs are half days and are available in the immersion Spanish and English program. The program is pretty affordable. If there were more interest, they could bring in a full-day program. 
    3. Spring Fling – The Spring Fling is planned for the end of March. It is Easter themed. 
    4. New Mascot – The school is getting a new mascot, which will be more of a Wolf. 
    5. Supporting the school – If you have kids in the neighborhood, consider sending them to Wooten. More enrollment will help get more programs into the school.
      • The school is looking for volunteers to help teachers during lunch time. Right now, they don’t have enough Cafeteria monitors so teachers are having to step in. If interested, sign up on the Austin Partners in Education page. 
  2. Wooten Neighborhood Signs: The president discussed the signs and the placement. A motion was made to approve the additional 10 signs at a cost of $450. All approved. 
  3. Reading of the Minutes: The Secretary reported on the previous meeting minutes and mentioned they were posted on the Wooten website.
  4. Treasury report: The treasure provided an update on the accounts for the association. The savings account maintains $25 and there is $1541.92 in the general fund. The Park fund has $2042.97 dollars.
    • The treasurer is trying to update the accounts so it was decided that Patty Colligan and Sandra Menjivar-Suddeath would be added to the account and Laura Tomlinson would be removed from the account. In addition, the treasurer will update the SOS listing. 
  5. Open Discussion: The city will look into the Google Fiber issue to see when service is coming or what the status is.
  6. Close: The meeting adjourned around 8:15 pm.