February 24, 2014
RNA president Jeff Archer opened the meeting at 6:45 pm on Feb. 24. He introduced Senior Police Officer Josh Metteauer, who is the district representative for Rosedale. He explained that among other duties, he is the liaison between concerns of citizens and the department. He represents several areas in a larger region known as Baker Sector. Austin has three sectors north, three central and three south. Rosedale is in the central west sector. He said the quickest way to reach him is through this form: austintexas.gov/email/joshuametteauer His phone number is 512-974-8124. He said the police are trained to use NextDoor.com and that is how police will be communicating with neighborhoods. He said that’s a good way to communicate with him also.
He noted that compared to some other areas, Rosedale is considered a low crime area. There’s a lot of property crime in Austin, period. In 78756 in January 2014, there were 5 burglaries of a non-residence (i.e., breaking into a shed), three burglary of a residence, five burglaries of vehicles (a nearby zip code had 49) and six incidents of graffiti. There’s been a spree of graffiti in the area, particularly in Allendale. They arrested a young female suspect and have a good idea about others who are involved. The case is being investigated now. Hopefully, it will alleviate some of the graffiti crimes that have been spiking lately.
There are ways to prevent some of these crimes: For graffiti, go to a sporting goods store and put a game camera up in areas that are susceptible. It will flash pictures at night when it detects movement. Or you could get a video camera. For vehicle burglaries, don’t leave your car unlocked or anything out in the open, not even loose change or a cord that plugs into your phone. To deter burglary of a residence, eliminate hiding spots by trimming down shrubbery around windows and keep the area lit from all corners of the house and back yard. Keep your lights on at night, even in backyards. Alarm systems during the day are a good idea. A lot of time the alarm system will prevent the burglary. When you’re not home during the day, make sure the blinds are closed. Be leery of people knocking on your door and not having a reason to be there. Call 911. Mainly during the day, someone will knock on the door and if no one answers, then they’ll kick in the door or go around to back to see if they can break in.
There’s been a reduction in the number of kick-in burglaries. There was a spate of them a couple of years ago, but the police caught a group of people around that time. Officer Mettauer will do a home security check free of charge. Just give him a call and he’ll come to your house, assess it and give suggestions about how to secure it better. Also, neighbors are invited to attend Commanders Forums once a quarter. The Commander over our region will come and give all the stats, what’s going on in your area, discuss any topics going on and open the discussion to any questions.
Recently a man tried to grab a child on a bicycle on Shoal Creek Ave near 39th St. She was able to get away and rode home and told her mom. The police got a description of him but he doesn’t think they have any leads on who he is. He said if you go to Austinpolice.com there is a crime stat link and you can find out what’s going on in your area. Another excellent site is krimelabb.com.
Someone asked if putting things out on the curb attracted a bad element to the neighborhood. He said he didn’t think so, he’d never heard of that kind of link. For graffiti, contact 311 and request that a cleanup crew comes out as soon as possible. The city of Austin comes out, not the police. If there’s graffiti in the park, call PARD (512-974-6700).
Jeff Archer reported that a group of McCallum students is putting seed islands in at Crestmont Park. They started today at 5:00–6:15 pm and will be at it all week. If anyone wants to go get their hands dirty, go help! They could use volunteers.
Alison Alter, chair of the Ramsey Park Renovation Committee reported that the committee met with PARD (Austin Parks and Recreation Dept.) and now knows how much the Ramsey Park design, based on the master plan, will cost to implement: $460,000. The renovation funds and the Austin Parks Foundation and Neighborhood Partnering Program grants come to $379,000, so that leaves about $80,000 needing to be raised.
The plan is to do the work in 4 stages. Phase I includes putting a shade over the basketball court, creating an amphitheater with limestone seating around the shelter, resurfacing the basketball court, and adding additional picnic tables and benches to the park. We received an Austin Parks Foundation grant of $50,000 and were able to use $40,000 of restitution money for the required matching funds. We’re hoping that we’ll have the shade cover by May.
Phase 2 includes 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. We have a grant from the Neighborhood Partnering Program for $66,000 but we have to provide $22,000 in matching funds and can’t use the Ramsey Park mitigation funds.
Phase 3 includes additional elements to the playscapes; the cost for this is about $200,000. PARD will be removing the toddler playscape because it’s been deemed unsafe, out of code, and at the end of its lifespan. The slide is too steep, the chain is falling apart, and there is some kind of bolt problem. When it was put in 18 years ago it was all to code, but not anymore.
Phase 4 is a catch-all: We’d like to add two or three pieces of adult fitness equipment, new water fountains, bleachers, additional bike racks, etc. We will not be using city money for this. We will be getting permits that cover all four phases at once.
So, the total project costs $460,000, and we have $379.000. We had a fundraising committee meeting today and came up with a lot of great ways to raise money, but need your help. Here are a few of the ideas:
1. We’d like to approach nearby neighborhood associations whose residents use Ramsey Park and see if the NA and/or their residents will donate money to this project. We need to identify champions in each neighborhood who are active on their listserv and neighborhood association. If you have a friend who loves the park and lives in an adjacent neighborhood, please let us know.
2. People can host house parties—it can be a family affair, ladies night out, men’s basketball, playgroup – invite your friends over, offer refreshments, someone from the park committee can come and give a spiel about park, you say why park is important to you, maybe have a raffle or just ask them to donate. Three generous donors have come forward so far and offered $11,000 in matching funds, so hopefully, that will motivate people to give, also.
3. Donate. We are part of Austin Parks Foundation, Friends of Ramsey Park. You can donate online here: austinparks.org/adopter-donations.html, be sure you check the Ramsey Park box, or it won’t count towards the Ramsey Park project. We are developing a webpage dedicated to the project and also a Facebook page.
If any of you would like to help us, please join our fundraising committee. We are looking at ways to publicly recognize donors, but we need someone to research what the city will allow. If you’re giving $500 or more, we’d like a way to recognize you permanently. If someone wants to organize an event, that’s fine. Events may not bring in a huge amount. We will have yard signs. If someone gives $100 or more, they will get a yard sign, that says something like “We support Ramsey Park.” We’re also going to try to put a big thermometer sign in the park to let park users know of our efforts, and we’re hoping to have other signs in the park as well.
We need to raise $50,000 in short order. We hope to have a diagram and full plan to roll out for everyone at the next RNA meeting in March. We also hope to have the recognition piece in place. If you can pick one entity or business where you have a foot in the door, please let us know. If you can help us in any way, please send us an email.
Bob Green, election judge at Rosedale school announced there will be a Republican. precinct committee meeting at 8:00 pm on election night for Precinct 236.
John Burgess announced that Waterloo Ice House will be closing on Sunday and turning into a sports bar.