Community Meetings regarding a Park for Highland scheduled!
The two community meetings to give input to the City regarding the future of 401 West St Johns have been scheduled!
Thursday November 14th and Wednesday December 4th, 6:30pm at Reilly Elementary Cafeteria, 405 Denson
These are our two opportunities to tell City Staff that we want a PARK at 401 West St Johns before they make their presentation and recommendation to City Council on January 16th. We need ALL OF YOU there!!!
Hopefully, everyone has received their flyer
from the City. You may have just recycled it because it said “St Johns Community Conversations” and “recreation/facilities”, without any mention of the words HIGHLAND or PARK. While I’m sure it was not meant to be misleading, Highland residents who are not aware of the park effort may not have understood that the flyer was calling for their input regarding the possibility of a Park for Highland. Changing the use of this property to a park will have a hugely positive effect on the connectedness, aesthetics, crime statistics, and physical and mental well being of the Highland Community. Please talk to your neighbors, carpool, offer your elderly neighbors a ride, do whatever you can to get yourself and others to these meetings! Every voice counts, and making yourselves heard is the only way we are going to get the City to stand up for the needs of our neighborhood.
- This is the only City owned open space in Highland neighborhood suitable for a park .
- North Central Austin, and Highland in particular, is lacking in parkland according to Austin Parks and Rec.
- We already have 16 acres of private fields in our neighborhood on Lamar and Morrow.
- Parks has found relocation options for the University Hills Optimists- including moving their ENTIRE SPORTS PROGRAM to North Austin Optimists 1.5 miles away.
See you there!
Chair Highland Neighborhood Park Committee
The Resolution Passed!
This is wonderful news meaning that our neighborhood has a chance for a park.
I know many of you have watched the video and it was frustrating to see that we weren’t actually allowed to speak about a park or Highland, only about the “process” of the presentation. The good news is that we will have multiple opportunities to give input at the community meetings and the presentation scheduled January 15th. In the presentation the City Manager will report future options for the land at 401 W. St. Johns , 1)Storm water management only, 2) A park only, 3) Shared use with a park and UHO sports fields, and 4) Exclusive use of property for UHO sports fields.
City Council did make a change in the resolution. The City Manager will now make the presentation regarding options for the property on January 15th rather than in October to make sure that all parties are able to fully participate in community meetings. Instead of one, there will now be multiple community input meetings. UHO parents and coaches expressed concerns regarding being a part of the input process. Since they have contact lists for all of their registrants, they have a definite advantage over Highland regarding notification. We will be requesting that all HNA residences receive a mailed notice of the meeting schedule. We ask your participation at these meeting to give your input into which option for 401 W. St. Johns best serves the community
HNA, Highland Neighborhood Park Committee, and all of our neighborhood is so grateful to the neighbors who came out last night and sacrificed several hours to show support for a park for Highland. We are one step closer because of you.
The Resolution is happening!
A resolution regarding 401 West St Johns possibly becoming a park will be introduced to Austin City Council this coming Thursday, September 26th.
The resolution directs the City Manager to make a presentation to City Council at the Oct. 24th meeting regarding 4 options for the property. 1) Stormwater management only, 2) Convert the entire site to a park and relocating UHO, 3) UHO and Highland sharing the site, 4) UHO having exclusive use of the site.
Converting the entire site to a park and relocating UHO is the option recommended by Highland Neighborhood Park Committee and HNA based upon multiple votes in the past several years. The Parks department has found multiple options for UHO, including moving their entire program to North Austin Optimists just 1.5 miles away. This would allow the creation of a park of adequate size for our densely populated and growing community, and would enable the UHO children to continue playing together. We have created a Resolution page to give you more details on the options and on why the park committee and HNA support converting the entire site to a park.
Highland needs your support by:
1. Calling each City Council member to tell them you support the resolution regarding 401 W. St. Johns and UHO relocation for a park
2. Emailing City Council to let them know why you personally want a park.
Some ideas of what to say are listed below, but it is important that these emails be personalized to put a face on our neighborhood. Tell them about how you and your family will use a park, how you think this will benefit our community, how far you currently travel to get to a good neighborhood park, whether you can walk there, or even memories of a park you could walk to in your own childhood and how that shaped your development.
- Our neighborhood currently has 2 private sports fields, no neighborhood park, and no other open space on which to create a park
- Our neighborhood is dense, urban and growing. We have over 4225 residents, of which 700 are children, and over 300 are retirees. We would all benefit from a park. Plans for Highland Mall, the Crestview Station TOD, Crestview City Homes, and Airport Boulevard continue to increase Highland’s density and our need for community open space.
- Park benefits include strengthening community, creating social ties between neighbors, decreased crime, increased physical activity, and decreased childhood obesity.
- The only community space for our 4225 residents is a 0.5 acre pocket park. St Johns sits right in the center of our neighborhood making it an ideal location to create a community in Highland, helping our neighbors to get to know one another
- Parks play a crucial role in attracting and keeping families in the city
- The majority of Highland residents fall outside of the 2010 City Council goal that all residents in Austin’s urban core will live within ¼ mile safe walk to a park. Most live ½ mile or more from the nearest parks, and those parks are not accessible on school days
We also need support at the October 24th meeting for the presentation if this resolution passes. We will give you more details on this as the date approaches and we know more.
If you have not signed a written petition or the online petition, please do so. ONLY SIGN ONE PETITION- WRITTEN OR ONLINE- AND INCLUDE YOUR ADDRESS IN THE COMMENT SECTION
City Council Meeting Update 8/24
The resolution regarding a park at 401 W. St Johns is NOT on the agenda for the Aug 29th City Council meeting as we had expected. We will be speaking to Kathie Tovo’s office this week to find out when they anticipate this will happen, and if there is any update on the wording of the resolution.
The extra time gives us an opportunity to discuss the park and plan for the City Council meeting at the next HNA meeting. If you would like to be a part of this discussion please come to the HNA meeting Tues Sept 3rd, Social 6:30pm, Meeting 7:00pm at Gateway Baptist Church.
If you would like to take action now to support A Park for Highland, and all parks in Austin, “Great Austin Parks” coalition is urging us to contact city council in support of increased park funding in Austin. This will be coming up in the City Council Budget meeting Sept 3rd. Austin falls far behind in several national benchmarks for park funding.
We have now met with all of the City Council offices regarding A Park for Highland and multiple offices asked questions regarding funding for a park. Of greatest concern will be the maintenance costs that will continue long after the park is built. We were able to speak of the steps we have taken so far in researching private fundraising for a neighborhood park, but this initiative will help to address this deficit. If you would like to read more about the park funding initiative see http://www.austinchronicle.com/news/2013-08-16/austin-parks-trying-to-fill-the-gap/ .
You can email city council in support of increased park funding at http://austintexas.gov/mail/all-council-members, and here is a list of city council phone numbers http://austintexas.gov/contact-us
Email from Richard Craig of “Great Austin Parks”
I want to reach out to you concerning an initiative, a number of us park advocates are putting forward this summer to try to get PARD’s budget increased.The group is made up of the Austin Parks Foundation, Trail Foundation, Keep Austin Beautiful, Tree Folks, Pease Park Conservancy, and the Shoal Creek Conservancy. We are asking the City Council to increase the Parks Dept. budget by 4.75 million dollars (roughly 8%) over last year’s budget. The group’s mantra is this initiative is “Trees, Trails, Pools, and Basic Maintenance. Let’s take care of what we have.”
It has been up to neighborhood groups of concerned citizens to take on repairs and basic care of too many of our parks as PARD’s funding is cut again and again in bad times and never gets fully restored in good economic cycles.
For instance, Austin Forestry Dept. had 28 full time employees to care for roughly 6,000 acres of park land in 1992. In 2012, Forestry just had 24 full time employees for over 19,000 acres. Austin is in the bottom one-third of major American cities in what we spend on park maintenance (operations). This is according to the Trust for Public Land (City Parks Facts booklet-2012). You can see our City Park Score on their website and compare it to other cities.
This is all shocking for a city that considers itself a leader on the environment. I feel that we have all collectively been asleep at the switch not to have raised this issue sooner. But, we are going to try to turn it around this year in the 2013-2014 City budgets that will be adopted in September.
We are encouraging people to write, email, or call the Mayor and City Council about this in the lead up to the budget hearing in September. But, we would especially like HNA to consider adopting a resolution of support.
Major Update to City Plans for Park Process 8/1
There has been a significant change of plans from the city. There will no longer be stakeholder meetings. Instead, Council Member Kathie Tovo will introduce a resolution regarding the park at the City Council Agenda Meeting on either August 22nd or August 29th. This resolution will state the direction that the city will take in renewing UHO’s lease or relocating them for a park. There will then be a public hearing at the meeting before City Council regarding the resolution.
In preparing this resolution, CM Kathie Tovo is meeting with Austin Parks department this coming Monday to discuss the property. Parks has relayed to Ms Tovo that there has been about 50/50 support for keeping and relocating UHO. This figure does not reflect the 2003 Highland Neighborhood Plan, the multiple previous votes by HNA to relocate the UHO in favor of a park and pond, or the support that a park has received as reflected by our petitions and surveys.
The park committee is asking for you to call or email Kim McNeeley, Assistant Director for Parks and Recreation, before Monday morning to let her know that you support relocating UHO for a neighborhood park. Contacting her during business hours tomorrow would be best, but emails and phone calls waiting in her inbox Monday morning would also be helpful. Her phone number is 512-974-6722 and her email address is email@example.com.
We have added an online petition to enlist the support of those who have not had the opportunity to sign a written petition. If you have not signed the written one, please sign the online petition by Sunday night. We will be giving CM Tovo’s office the number of signatures that we have on Monday morning, prior to the meeting. These signatures are evidence that our neighborhood does overwhelmingly support relocating the UHO for a neighborhood park for our 4225 residents, including over 700 children. You can sign the petition here http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/highland-neighborhood-park-petition/. PLEASE ONLY SIGN ONE PETITION, EITHER THE WRITTEN OR ONLINE, AND INCLUDE YOUR ADDRESS IN THE COMMENT SECTION WHEN SIGNING THE PETITION.
We will continue collecting petition signatures until the public hearing at the end of August. The public hearing will take place on a Thursday, meaning that many of the park supporters will be unable to attend due to work. The petitions will be our greatest and loudest statement of the neighborhood’s desire for a park. We are still looking for more petition volunteers to get signatures throughout the neighborhood. The park signs and the door to door petitions are the most effective ways to reach the greatest number of our residents. If you do not have a park sign, please send in a sign request so that we can spread the word.
The park committee would like to extend a great big THANK YOU to the petition volunteers who have braved the heat these last few weeks to add the support of those who aren’t online or on the listserves. There are literally hundreds of people on the petitions who would not have been reached by the listserves and signs alone.
As soon as we have any news regarding the resolution and the public hearing, we will let you all know through the website, listserves, and facebook groups. When we have the date of the public hearing we will also put out flyers door to door calling for your support and attendance at the hearing. Rather than multiple stakeholder meetings, there will now be one public hearing, one great opportunity to show City Council that Highland wants and deserves a neighborhood park.
NEW PARK SIGNS ARE IN!
Thanks to some very generous donations at the Highland 4th of July picnic we have purchased 150 new yard signs- double sided this time! Thank you so much Highland for your support at the picnic. We had 154 letters to city council signed, lots of names added to the petition, and 18 surveys filled out. A great big thank you from Highland to Blackstar Coop for donating a keg of beer for the picnic! Let them know how much we appreciate it when you visit them for a pint.
The signs have arrived and you can request one here. If you have not filled out a survey or emailed city council on please do so. We want to put together a visual soon of the St Johns property with the park features based upon the survey.
The park committee is also looking for the participation of our younger Highlanders. We would like parents to have their kids draw a picture of what their dream park would look like. There have been some amazing park themes and designs that have come from kids helping in park design, and we want to share the ideas of Highland’s kids at the stakeholder meetings. You can email to have the drawings picked up.
154 Letters to City Council!
Highland Neighborhood’s push for a park is featured in Community Impact magazine!
Our park effort is getting some attention! Comments from Damon Howze and a small article on Highland’s community led push for a park are featured in this local magazine, along with 3 other neighborhoods. Go see for yourself!
10 Park signs left!
The 100 we bought have gone quickly. We may not have any more to distribute by the July 4th potluck at Dorothy John’s Triangle, but we will have petitions to sign and letters that we will mail for you. If you would like to donate so that we can order more signs, please visit the Request a Sign or Donate tab. Thank you everyone for your great response and participation!
PARK SIGNS ARE IN!
Members of the Highland Neighborhood Park Committee will be at the July 4th picnic at Dorothy Johns Triangle to pass out yard signs and provide letters to city council that we will mail for you. Verona’s is donating Italian food and neighbors are donating a 27 lb smoked turkey for the festivities! See the Highland neighborhood July 4th post for more info.
Please visit the other tabs on this website to see what needs to be done before the shareholder meetings at the end of July. We still need a lot of petition volunteers to cover our neighborhood, and city council needs to hear from Highland either by email or letter.
The city’s decision to put a park at 401 W. St. Johns is going to depend on how much noise we make. Let’s let them know we want a park!