Park Meeting Dec. 4th
To sum the meeting, to vote for sharing is to vote for our neighborhood to have an inadequate sized park for our dense growing population so that UHO does not have to relocate to the 57 acre Bartholomew park, or one of the other relocation options. The sharing option, which is PARD’s initial recommendation for the site, would keep baseball and kickball, and soccer would relocate. This is PARD’s preliminary recommendation based on speakupaustin.org votes being almost tied for sharing and relocation. This would give Highland 25-35% of property if UHO can continue these programs on 2 baseball fields, and putting up and taking down collapsible kickball fences when kickball plays. UHO says they can’t run these two programs on 2 fields, however PARD’s initial recommendation is regarding the programs, not the number of fields. Highland could also agree to putting a parking lot in front of the residences on Northcrest to add less than one acre of parkland on site.
Because both UHO leadership and Highland neighbors had issues with this sharing arrangement, and there was difficulty figuring out how much space the fields would take and how many fields there would be, another community meeting will be added sometime after the New Year.
The Highland Neighborhood Park Committee has voted to support the option of using the entire 7 acre tract as a neighborhood park with storm water pond, and relocating University Hills Optimists sports program. Based upon what we learned from the December 4th meeting, UHO’s relocation options, national recommendations for park size, Highland’s population, our increasing density, proximity to Transit Oriented Development, the park deficiency in Highland and North Central Austin, the possibility of preventing residential flooding by enlarging the perimeter ditch, and desire to leave neighborhood open space unpaved, the Park Committee has determined that the whole tract becoming a park and storm water pond will serve the needs of the most people, including Highland, North Central Austin, the UHO kids who will continue to play, and Austin in general.
So what now?
If you have not voted on https://austintexas.granicusideas.com/forums/community-conversation-401-w-st-johns-avenue please do so. We all need to be counted for our voice to be heard. You can also vote by calling 311. If your neighbors aren’t on the list serve let them know.
If you voted for sharing and think that Highland deserves more than 25-35% of the only City owned open space in our neighborhood, you can change your vote by clicking the vote again to remove it.
Below is a brief summary of the meeting, but a more in depth one follows which I encourage you to read. The map above shows the relocation options, the baseball fields in Austin, and the distribution of UHO participants The majority of UHO kids (53%) that live in Austin will either be closer to fields at the 57 acre Bartholomew Park, or about the same distance they are now from Reznicek Fields.
- Enlarging the ditches and taking more of the property will prevent flooding of the residences bordering the creek. Tell Speakupaustin.org to enlarge the ditch so our neighbors houses don’t flood!
- From a water quality standpoint parking could be moved to Northcrest on the other side of St JohnsTell speakupaustin.org that our neighborhood doesn’t want to pave green space with the potential to beautify our neighborhood, and our residents don’t want a parking lot in front of their house so that UHO doesn’t have to relocate to a 57 acre park!
- Relocation options to move ALL PROGRAMS to the 57 acre Bartholomew Park on 51st and Berkman, and either divide the 6 fields between UHO and Delwood Little League, or become one organization at Delwood
- Move Baseball and Kickball to Butler Park and Soccer to Roy G. Guerrero
- Share property with UHO keeping BOTH BASEBALL AND KICKBALL, relocating soccer, and requiring 25 parking spaces per diamond, in addition to parking needed for various amenities at park.
- Sharing with park, pond, and kickball and baseball is initial recommendation of Pard based on almost equal votes on speakupaustin.org for sharing and relocation.
- PARD thinks this could be done with two baseball fields, leaving the neighborhood 25-35% of the space
- UHO said programs would need 4 fields, one parent on speakupaustin.org says 3 fields. Each additional field will require another 25 parking spaces
- PARD says the fields would prevent crime because only the parking lot can be seen from the road A great number of parks in Austin can’t be seen from the road, don’t have sports organizations on them, and don’t have the additional surveillance of backyards overlooking them on 4 sides. The litter, overgrowth, and lack of maintenance of fields have been one of the main factors encouraging the crime recorded in the seventy-eight 911 calls in the last 10 years
- Leadership says they need all the fields, we could use the large field on Sundays, baseball program runs from Feb- end October, Kickball from mid Jan to July 15th, soccer needs large field 2 nights a week in November.
- Dogs will not be allowed on Fields
- UHO parents state that relocation would change the culture of the program, and that St Johns’ kids like having access to fields so nearbyBartholomew park is the same distance from St Johns, 49% of the kids in kickball that live in Austin would be closer to the fields if moved to Bartholomew, 7% about the same distance (those from St Johns), for baseball 35% would be closer and at least 14% would be the same distance
In more detail . . .
- Watershed said the City land on Northcrest across St Johns could be used for UHO parking from a water quality standpoint to open up park space, and have a nice parking lot with a crushed granite path and trees
- A neighbor who lives in front of this property said she did not want a parking lot there
This is a small piece of neighborhood green space with trees planted by Highland neighborhood that was used previously by the neighborhood to walk dogs. The Park Committee has been speaking with City Staff regarding moving the equipment stored there and will continue to work to do. This piece of property is another opportunity to beautify the neighborhood with green space rather than creating parking.
- UHO also stated that they do not overflow park in the neighborhood and no one attending had personal knowledge to contradict this.
- Watershed said that the two houses that border the creek flooded a few months ago due to debris and overhanging limbs in the creek. They have planned a new maintenance schedule to help this, but, even with increased maintenance, in heavy rains the properties could flood again.
- When questioned, Watershed said that increasing the size of the ditch would help prevent flooding, but would take more space.
- PARD presented the relocation options for UHO
- UHO’s entire program and board could be relocated to the 57 acre Bartholomew Park. They would share the facilities with Dellwood Little League and divide the 6 fields. All programs could continue but would require scheduling for both organizations
- UHO’s entire program could be relocated to the 57 acre Bartholomew Park and form one organization with Delwood.
Park Committee member Charlotte Garza spoke to the President of Dellwood Little League regarding this option prior to the meeting. She stated they could take all of UHO’s programs,“that is what the fields are there for”, and that they don’t know how to run a soccer and kickball program so would need to be shown how, leaving opportunity for kickball and soccer volunteers to continue to work with the kids. We expect that increasing a baseball program by 150 kids would also mean a need for more volunteers and coaches
3. UHO baseball and kickball program relocates to Butler Park and soccer relocates to Roy G. Guerrero Park
- PARD made a preliminary recommended of sharing the tract based upon speakupaustin.org votes (50ish sharing to 60ish relocation as of that night)
- They recommended keeping BOTH BASEBALL AND KICKBALL programs at Reznicek Fields and relocating soccer. This would require 25 parking spots for each diamond, plus spots per amenity depending on what amenities are chosen for the site.
- PARD thinks this can be done with 2 diamonds, but, when questioned, clarified that the sharing recommendation was for the 2 programs, not for a number of fields.
- UHO leadership said they need 4 fields, a UHO parent on speakupaustin.org believes they could keep both programs with 3 diamonds.
- PARD also said they site would benefit from keeping the fields by increasing activity on site to prevent crime, and because of the unique situation of being unable to see the park from the roadThe “unique situation” is an open space being unmaintained, littered, and overgrown. UHO’s upkeep of the property around the fields, regardless of whether they were required to do so in their contract, has created an environment welcoming to criminals. The overflowing trash, large holes in the parking lot, overgrown vegetation, discarded construction equipment, and cracked buildings send a message to criminals that no one care about this space. This has resulted in multiple assaults, drug use, prostitutes, and homeless camping on the site.The property is bordered on 4 sides by backyards, and the front parking lot can be seen from St. Johns and Northcrest, where a stop light also allows cars sitting there to have a longer view of the property than those driving by. This is greater surveillance than many of the parks in Austin which can not be seen from the road and are not surrounded by residences.
Organized sports can decrease crime by increasing use of a park, but they are not necessary. The elements needed to decrease crime in a neighborhood are to have a park designed with the residents to attract frequent use, and that space be clean and well maintained. This site has been the opposite of clean and maintained for many years, and just having a park will greatly decrease crime on the property.
While we do not attribute the crime to the UHO users, but rather sporadic use of the fields and the condition of the property, UHO participants and spectators have themselves been the cause of at least three 911 calls on the property, including a stabbing this past May.
The Park Committee and many of the neighbors believe that keeping the fields to prevent crime is an invalid reason to sacrifice park space, and thereby park users- the main deterrents to crime.
MARLA SCHMITZ, Chair of Highland Neighborhood Park Committee
- Want to create a natural green environment with space for the amenities to serve our 4500 residents of all ages and abilities, including 700 kids,
- A park that attracts families, creates a stronger community, and provides physical and mental benefits to the residents of our dense neighborhood and all of North Central Austin who live in an area deficient in parkland, particularly for those in apartments, condos, and homes with small yards
- We can discuss moving the kickball fields or soccer fields, but there is a great size constraint on this property, and baseball fields in particular are too large to share use on this small site
- Our hope is that UHO parents and participants will consider the relocation options, especially that of moving to the 57 acre Batholomew park where all of their programs can continue together so that our neighborhood can have what remains of these 7 acres after the storm water pond to create a park of adequate size for our neighborhood.
- presented a proposal for UHO remaining, moving the East parking lot to the other side of St Johns with spots for 90 cars to open up the current parking area as parkland.
- Adding walking path from Croslin to Swanee and pedestrian bridgeWe are already asking for this in a park per the results from our neighborhood park survey
- Said UHO needs all 4 fields for kickball and baseball
- Kickball fields will be available for public use from July 15th to middle of January.
- Large field can be available all day Sunday, unless there is a tournament
- All fields available for 4th of July Picnic, except every 4-8 years for tournament
- Baseball fields are used from February to the end of October
- Soccer needs field 2 nights per week in November
- Dogs not permitted in/on fields
- “Personnel gates to fenced ball fields should be kept equipted with self closing gates to keep stray animals out. All other gates shall be kept locked with both CofA/PARD and UHO locks to allow each to do maintenance”
- UHO to be in charge of all buildings, HNA may arrange for use of meeting room
- Current toilets are not fireproofed and shall not be available to public unless they are made so
Facilitator then called on UHO PARENTS FOR INPUT
- It is easy for Highland to say they should just relocate
- To change locatoins would change the culture of the programs
- Conflict would happen if two organizations had to share fields at BartholomewConflict would also occur when an extremely large neighborhood shares a space that is of inadequate size for their residents
- A UHO parent who lives in St Johns also said having the fields here is a great benefit to her child and the 48% of UHO Participants from St JohnsAt least 50 of UHOs 406 participants come from St Johns, or 12% of their participants. That is excluding from the 78752 the 8 children from Highland who have been reported to us through the website. The total count of 406 includes repeats for any child who plays more than one program. If a child plays fall and spring basebball they will be counted twice. The 48% figure comes from adding in the numbers for RBI, a baseball program who illegally sublet from UHO for one season this past summer when invited there by UHO.
FACILITOR STATED THAT BECAUSE NO RESOLUTION WAS REACHED, THERE WOULD BE ANOTHER COMMUNITY INPUT MEETING, LIKLEY AFTER THE NEW YEAR