RNA Meeting Minutes – 2014 March

weloveramseyparkThe meeting was brought to order by Jeff Archer, president of the Rosedale Neighborhood Association, at 7:45 on March 24.

Jeff introduced Patti Fowler, NW Regional Branch Manager for the Austin Public Library.

Jeff said that on April 29th, the Aquatics Division of Austin Parks and Recreation (PARD) will hold a meeting at the Carver Museum as a follow-up to the meetings held late last summer about Austin area pools. More detail is available on the PARD website. If interested, contact Jeff and he can also send details. He said it would be good if someone could attend to talk up our pool and make sure they don’t forget about us.

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There will be a Police Commander’s Forum on April 1st, from 6:30 – 8:30 pm at McCallum High School. Everyone is welcome to attend.

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Alison Alter, chair of the Ramsey Park Committee, gave an overview of the renovation plans for the park. This is the culmination of two years of work.

She gave a short history of neighborhood support for Ramsey Park:
From Jan 2011 – June 2012, a large part of Ramsey Park was closed off so the city could store equipment while they worked on the Rosedale Storm Drainage Project. The City (in a new program) paid PARD $241,000 to store the equipment there.  The original impetus for the Ramsey Park Renovation project was this money. But we couldn’t just spend it; there was a new rule that stated a park had to come up with a master plan before any major renovations could take place. We spent a year talking to Rosedale and surrounding neighborhoods about what they would like to see, soliciting input through emails and public meetings, and meeting with the city.

The Master Plan approved in April 2013. This master plan designed to cover transformations that will happen 5, 10 and 20 yrs from now.

The Master Plan has 7 goals:
1.    To offer a multi-generational place to play and relax
2.    To serve as a neighborhood retreat from the heat
3.    To preserve the park’s open spaces
4.    To maintain and enhance the access to nature the park provides residents
5.    To increase opportunities for the community to gather on a regular basis
6.    To enhance multipurpose and year-round use of different spaces around the park
7.    To renovate existing infrastructure, install desired new infrastructure, and adopt park rules consistent with the first six broad goals

As we moved from master plan to design and development, these were our goals. The highest priorities from all the input we received were more shade, climbing equipment and new structures for older kids, and natural playscape for younger kids.

The work will be done in 4 phases and costs a total of $460,000.

Phase I
Spring 2014 (estimated cost: $104,000. We received an Austin Parks Foundation grant of $50,000 and we’re able to use $40,000 of restitution money for the required matching funds.)
•    Shade structure over the basketball court
•    Resurface tennis courts
•    Seating (additional benches, including around pathways) and 7 – 10 picnic tables
•    Limestone amphitheater by the pavilion

Phase II
Fall 2014 (estimated cost: $90,000. We have a grant from the Neighborhood Partnering Program for $66,000 + 25% private match requirement, but the grant won’t allow us to use the Ramsey Park mitigation funds as the match. We plan to use $15,000 which is the bulk of the Rosedale Neighborhood Association’s park fund from years of carnivals and the rest in private donations.)
•    Creating a circular pathway system that connects the park and cycling trails. Hopefully it will remove some of the bike and trike traffic from the tennis courts since bikes can damage the resurfaced material.

Phase III
Fall 2014 ($235,000. How much we’re able to do depends on how much money is raised. We need to raise $50,000 more for this phase.)
•    Playscape renovations. The plan adds a large climbing structure closer to Burnet by the Big Kid playscape side near where the new slide is now. The slide will have to be moved slightly. There’s an example of an Explorer Dome on the website. We’ll also be adding a couple of spinners and a modern-day merry-go-round.
•    PARD will be removing the toddler playscape because it’s been deemed unsafe, out of code, and at the end of its lifespan. The plan calls for creating a natural playscape area with “natural” elements (made out of durable and safe synthetic materials) of a rock sculpture, tunnel, logs, turtle, stepping stones, etc., that toddlers can climb on and play under. There will also be a bigger rock structure with ropes for older kids. The area will be really different, exciting and provide a unique opportunity for kids to play and use their imaginations. There will also be some more traditional elements like a small slide, forest panel and play patch with little stairs. A new set of baby swings will be moved to the toddler area also.

Phase IV
General infrastructure and landscape upgrades (estimated cost: $31,000):
•    adult fitness area (2-3 pieces)
•    bike racks
•    bleachers
•    pavilion renovation
•    additional trees (Tree Folks planted 25 trees in Nov. around the perimeter of the park because we had a master plan but it would be nice to replace some of the dying trees in the interior of the park)

We are not doing a lot with the pool other than adding an aerator to cool the pool down in the summer. Renovations to the pool house will cost $250,000; it’s an extremely large expense relative to the amount of money we have for the park, so it’s something that the city can tackle at a later date.

The design plan from PARD is available on the website. Please check it out! http://www.ramseypark.org

The estimated costs could change depending on how costs go up. All money raised will be used for the park. The good news is that we only have $80,000 left to raise. If 800 families gave $100, we’d be done. We have $241,000 from mitigation and have received $50,000 in-kind services from the city.

In short, we need your help. You can donate online at http://www.ramseypark.org or send checks to the Austin Parks Foundation. Next week Ramsey Park will have a dedicated donation page, this week you will need to check a box indicating that it is for Ramsey Park. Your checks are tax deductible through APF.

Giving Levels:
•    Champion – $1,000 and above: Business logo featured on website, plus the benefits at Leader and Friends levels.
•    Leader, $500 and above: Recognition at Ramsey Park (location to be determined), recognition in Rosedale Newsletter (goes to 1200 homes), plus benefits at Friends level.
•    Friend – $100 and above – We Love Ramsey Park yard sign (while supplies last), recognition on website.

If someone wants to give in $5,000 or $10,000, we’ll talk to you about a separate recognition.

We need a volunteer to spearhead this recognition part (research possibilities such as using bricks or tiles) and volunteers to help us reach out to businesses.

How you can help:
•    Host a Park Party at your home or in the park. Invite your friends, provide light refreshments, have someone from the Park committee talk about the project, then you share why you support Ramsey Park, and then ask for donations.
•    Encourage others to give. Tell other people at the park and let them know this is going on. There will be some banners that go up in the park so people will see something is going on.
•    Help form a kids’ committee so they can be involved and mobilize other kids (and their parents).
•    Share your excitement on social media. Like us on Facebook. And if you see an announcement, “like” it so that more people will see it (http://www.Facebook.com/WeLoveRamseyPark. Chime in when you see a message on listserv in support of Ramsey Park.
•    Join the Ramsey Park committee. Help spearhead recognition, help target businesses, grant writing, information sessions, etc.

How to stay informed:
Website: http://www.ramseypark.org
Facebook: http://www.Facebook.com/WeLoveRamseyPark
Email list: ramseyparkproject@gmail.com
Come to RNA meetings!

Jeff Archer added that the city doesn’t have a lot of resources. He said the pool was about to be bulldozed 20 years ago, but people in the neighborhood mobilized and saved the pool and they used bond issues. Renovations to the park won’t happen unless we make it happen.

After a short question and answer session, the meeting was adjourned about 8:00 pm.

[Thanks to secretary Mindy Marble for these!]