Pond cleanup at Mabel Davis Park on July 29

Volunteers will show Mabel Davis Park some love this month during a cleanup organized by Keep Austin Beautiful (KAB) and the Country Club Creek Trail (CCCT) group.

Organizers will supply tools, supplies, drinks, snacks and gloves. If you’d like to join in, grab your boots and meet at the southeast park entrance.

Mabel Davis Park work day

What: Pick up trash around the pond and trail
When: 9 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, July 29
Where: Meet at the park entrance at Madera Drive
More informationKeep Austin Beautiful website and CCCT group’s Facebook page.


Volunteers will meet at 9 a.m. July 29 for a cleanup at Mabel Davis Park. (Image from Google.)

Posted in Calendar, Parks and recreation, Volunteering, Water quality | Leave a comment

District 3 newsletter outlines plans for quarter-cent transportation fund

The Burleson Heights area has another great way to learn about city issues important to residents.

The District 3 newsletter from City Council member Sabino “Pio” Renteria includes a roundup of city issues and a calendar of council, city committee and other public meetings.

The January newsletter outlines ways Renteria proposes using $1.9 million in funding for transportation and mobility improvements in the district. The priority list was compiled after several town halls and neighborhood meetings in East and South Austin, with input from City of Austin Transportation and Public Works staff. See the list of proposed projects, such as bike lanes, sidewalks and pedestrian crossings, here.

The funding comes from a portion of Capital Metro revenue known as the quarter-cent fund, and is earmarked for transportation projects that would have a low cost and high impact. In December 2015, Austin City Council voted to distribute $1.9 million to each of the city’s 10 council districts. Mayor Steve Adler will prioritize how to spend another $2.8 million across the city.

Renteria’s District 3 newsletter is distributed via e-mail. There are two ways to sign up:

You’ll be sent an e-mail to confirm your address before you’re added to the mailing list.

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Trash talk: Bulk collection the last week in July

Coming up the week of July 27, Austin Resource Recovery will collect items that are too big to fit in trash and recycling bins.

Every six months, the city collects items that are too bulky to fit into trash and recycling bins.

Every six months, the city collects items that are too bulky to fit into trash and recycling bins.

Place items for pickup at the curb by 6:30 a.m. on Monday that week, divided into separate piles for metal items, nonmetal items, mattresses and tires. Be sure to remove nails from lumber, gas and oil from barbecue grills and lawnmowers, and doors from appliances.

You also have other options for disposing of used appliances and metal:

  • Drop them off at the city’s Resource Recovery Center, located just south of the neighborhood at 3810 Todd Lane.
  • Sell them for scrap metal at a metal recycling center such as nearby CMC Commercial Metals, 710 Industrial Blvd.
  • Receive $50 to recycle functioning refrigerators and freezers through Austin Energy, which will pick up qualifying appliances and mail you a check within six weeks.

See the city’s bulk collection website for a list of what city crews can and can’t pick up.

Do you have an item that doesn’t fit the categories for trash, recycling or bulk collection? Visit the city’s What do I do with … page to find ways to dispose of or find a better use for it.

Posted in City services, Conservation | Leave a comment

House concert on May 9 benefits Community First! Village

Neighbors, friends and families will gather Saturday afternoon at the Princeton Palace, home of two longtime Austin musicians, for a free four-hour house concert and potluck.

Monty Goff

Monty Goff

The event is a celebration of our neighborhood spirit and the memory of Monty Goff, whose big laugh and love of music were fixtures on Princeton Drive for over 30 years.  The home’s backyard stage came from Goff’s yard, where he and his family hosted benefit concerts for neighbors in need.

Saturday’s concert is free, but any donations collected will be given in Monty’s name to Austin nonprofit Community First! Village, which provides housing for chronically homeless people with disabilities.

Join your neighbors at the backyard stage if the weather is dry, or indoors if it’s not! Bring a lawn chair and something to drink or share.

: 1-5 p.m. Saturday, May 9
Where: 2505 Princeton Drive
Cost: Free, donations accepted
Details: See Facebook event page

Update: The event raised over $2,500 for the housing community, a branch of the nonprofit Mobile Loaves and Fishes.

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City considers closing Mabel Davis, Metz pools for season

Water leaks and a lifeguard shortage have prompted the Austin Parks and Recreation Department to delay the opening of city pools, limit operating hours and consider closing two pools for the season, residents learned in an April 28 Austin Monitor story.

Two-thirds of city pools are leaking water, according to the Austin American-Statesman’s City Hall blog. The city is considering closing two of the six leakiest pools — Mabel Davis Municipal Pool in Southeast Austin and Metz Neighborhood Pool in East Austin — based on attendance and the proximity of other public pools. Both pools are in City Council District 3, the district of new council member Sabino “Pio” Renteria.

Of the 256,000 gallons public pools lost each day citywide, Mabel Davis pool lost 25,561 gallons and Metz pool lost 21,192 gallons in a 2014 city aquatics study. Together, the two pools lose as much water as 374 Austinites use each day, while averaging just 328 daily visitors, according to the study. Repairs could cost $1.6 million, the department told the American-Statesman.

Closing the two pools for the summer would save about $500,000, or $400,000 for Mabel Davis Pool alone, according to an April 30 Austin Monitor story. Last year, the department’s Aquatics Division was $482,000 over budget, the Monitor reported.

Seven city pools in Central and East Austin are at risk of failure in the next five years, the department said (see April 28 Austin American-Statesman story and map).

After neighborhood residents protested the closures during a Parks and Recreation board meeting on April 28 (see video), the department said it is reconsidering its decision, but would need to evaluate options to repair or patch the leaks. A decision is expected within two weeks, according to an April 30 KVUE report.

Meanwhile, the city is holding lifeguard hiring days on May 7 and 20. The first 500 lifeguards hired could qualify for a $100 bonus from the Austin Parks Foundation. Learn more here.

Update: The city announced on May 13 that it was allocating additional resources to detect and repair leaks, and would reopen both pools for the summer. It’s possible that leaks will continue, the announcement said. See the press release here.

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F1 weekend brings out cyclists, volunteers for third year

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Earlier this month, some hardy F1 spectators rolled through Burleson Heights and past Austin’s heavy traffic by cycling to the U.S. Grand Prix. And for the third year in a row, area residents and trail supporters hosted a rest stop to help at a bike crossing on a busy road and to provide free water, maps and repair supplies.

Volunteers worked a total of about 24 hours Oct. 31 – Nov. 2, setting up a canopy in the pocket park in the 3200 block of Burleson Road, the midway point on the 11-mile bike route from downtown to Circuit of the Americas. There they posted signs to alert drivers about the cyclists, who had to cross Burleson in an area with limited sight lines and no crosswalk. Volunteers also installed solar path lights to guide riders on the return trip through the curved path in the park, which does not have lighting.

Our thanks go out to the Burleson-area residents and South East Austin Trails and Greenways Alliance members who volunteered! We’d also like to give a shout out to COTA and Bicycle Sport Shop for supporting the bike route and providing free bike parking and shuttles for cyclists.

Part of the goal of the yearly rest stop effort has been to improve safety for cyclists and drivers near the pocket park, an area that is routinely used by Austin bike commuters and fitness riders. Each year motorists have been seen driving into the path of bikes or even using the sidewalk to drive into the park, almost meeting cyclists head-on, and some cyclists who aren’t familiar with the area have hastily ridden into the road, expecting cars to stop.

We like to think the signs, maps and conversations helped prevent some problems, and we appreciate all of the drivers and cyclists who do observe safety laws and share the road.

Posted in Cycling, Parks and recreation, Photos, Safety, Traffic, Transportation, Volunteering | Tagged | Leave a comment

Google Fiber coming to South, Southeast Austin in December

Google Inc. announced this week that it will start signing up Austin customers for its ultra-fast broadband service in December. A map of  the first service area includes the Burleson Heights and Burleson-Parker neighborhoods.

Google Inc. released a map this week of its first Google Fiber service area. The company will open signups in December.

Google Inc. released a map this week of its first Google Fiber service area, which will start accepting signups in December. (Click to enlarge.)

The 1-gigabit Google Fiber service would be about 100 times faster than the typical Internet connection.

Google has not announced pricing for Austin, but in Kansas City, monthly rates are $70 for Gigabit (broadband Internet) and $120 for Gigabit + TV. A less expensive option there is Internet service at 5 megabits per second, provided free for seven years after a one-time $300 fee — or the equivalent of $3.57 per month. Google’s Mark Strama told the Austin American-Statesman that a similar option would be available in Austin, with the $300 fee broken into payments of $25 a month.

In its other markets, the service includes a terabyte of Google Cloud storage, and the $120 service covers one TV ($5 for each additional set), a DVR that can record eight shows at once, a home Wi-Fi network, and more than 150 channels. Premium movie channel packages are available for $10-$40.

Google’s entry into the Austin market spurred competition to offer faster speeds, and 1-gigabit service is currently available through AT&T Inc. and Grande Communications.

Demand still required

When Google first announced its Austin plans in spring 2013, the company said that it would bring the service first to neighborhoods — or “Fiberhoods” — with the greatest demand, and encouraged interested Austinites to register online. According to the Oct. 15 Statesman story, Strama said that each Fiberhood will also have to reach a threshold of a certain number of subscribers before Google will hook up the service there.

To register your interest with the company, you can enter your street address at the Google Fiber Austin page and request e-mail updates. Learn more about Google Fiber online, and see an interactive map of Austin apartments that have requested Google Fiber.

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Oct. 7 Is National Night Out

Mark your calendars for National Night Out, an annual event that promotes neighbors knowing neighbors and working together to prevent crime. This year the Burleson Heights and Burleson Parker neighborhoods will celebrate on Oct. 7.

Turn on your porch lights, bring a flashlight and join your neighbors for an outdoor celebration in your area. Officer Gabriel Guillen, our Austin Police Department District Representative, has been invited to attend both events, and some District 3 City Council candidates might also drop by.

Burleson Heights: Meeting and light snacks, 6-8:30 p.m., 2809 Ware Road
Burleson-Parker: Potluck supper, 6-9 p.m., 3201 Laguna Drive

For more information on the celebrations and to stay in touch with your neighbors, join the message board for your area.

To learn more about crime prevention, attend one of the Austin Police Department’s monthly Commander’s Forums. The next forum for our area, Region 3, will be at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 6 at the Austin Police Department East Substation, 812 Springdale Road.

Posted in Calendar, Meetings, Security | Leave a comment

Todd Lane construction begins

A major improvement project on Todd Lane got its start on Sept. 15, and will transform a heavily traveled narrow road into a wider, safer street designed to handle automobile, bus, bicycle and pedestrian traffic. Southbound traffic is being detoured onto Woodward Street during construction, which is expected to last a year and a half.

The City of Austin is widening Todd Lane and adding bike lanes, sidewalks and a roundabout.

The City of Austin is widening Todd Lane and adding bike lanes, sidewalks, a roundabout, safer crosswalks and better drainage.

The project will widen Todd Lane to three lanes, including a center turn lane, plus 6-foot-wide bicycle lanes separated from other traffic by 2-foot-wide buffers. New 10-foot-wide sidewalks on both sides of the road will provide much-needed pedestrian access, which will also include four crosswalks that will alert drivers with flashing hybrid beacons when someone needs to cross the street. The number of bus stops will double from two to four. (See how construction will affect bus routes at the Capital Metro service alert page.)

Construction also will add two biofiltration ponds and seven rain gardens landscaped with native plants. Most water will be captured on-site and allowed to seep into the ground, but heavy overflow will go into a new storm drain. The drainage improvements will take the place of the shallow ditch that previously carried water off the curbless road.

“Traditionally, drainage on country roads is provided by bar ditches,” said project manager Clay Harris of the City of Austin Public Works Department. “We’re not in the country anymore.”

The final piece of the project will be the city’s largest roundabout, Harris said. Located at the four-way intersection of Todd Lane, St. Elmo Road and Pleasant Valley Road, the 120-foot-wide traffic circle has been designed to handle traffic from several kinds of users, including truck traffic at this confluence of industrial parks, office parks and residential neighborhoods.

Construction will take place in several phases. Phase 1, on the west side of Todd Lane, will last until summer 2015. Phase 2, on the east side of the road, will take another six months. Phase 3 will then build the roundabout at St. Elmo Road.

The project got off to a slow start, delayed by the relocation of utilities by AT&T, Harris says. He first described the project in a Burleson Heights Neighborhood Association meeting in August 2013. Learn more about the project and meeting in the Aug. 15, 2013, Hurly-Burly post. More details are at the city’s list of Public Works projects.

Originally, one lane of southbound Burleson Road had been closed at the Ben White Boulevard (Texas 71) intersection to prepare drivers for the road closure and detour during the 18-month project. However, at the neighborhood’s request, Harris and the Transportation Department agreed to keep all three lanes of Burleson open. The left lane will head straight in preparation for a left turn under the overpass, the center lane will go straight or right, and the right lane will turn right, allowing drivers to head west toward downtown and the Todd Lane detour via Woodward Street.

Contact: Clay Harris, project manager, Clay.Harris@AustinTexas.gov or (512) 974-7895

Update: The city reopened the third lane at the Burleson-Ben White intersection on Oct. 14. 

Posted in City projects, Construction, Cycling, Meetings, Traffic, Transportation | Leave a comment

City Council, mayoral candidate forums coming up

Under the new single-member district plan, the Burleson Heights and Burleson-Parker neighborhoods are in District 3, which includes parts of South, East and Southeast Austin. (Click to enlarge.)

Under the new single-member district plan, the Burleson Heights and Burleson-Parker neighborhoods are in District 3, which includes parts of South, East and Southeast Austin. (Click to enlarge.)

Austinites will have the opportunity to get to know their City Council and mayoral candidates better in the coming weeks in several series of debates.

Coming up first is Ballot Boxing, a series of candidate forums sponsored by The Austin Chronicle, The Austin Monitor, KUT News, KXAN and Univision. The forums are free and open to the public, and will stream online. See the schedule for all 11 forums, held Sept. 8-Oct. 15.
Ballot Boxing District 3 candidate forum
When: 7 p.m. Sept. 15
Where: The North Door, 502 Brushy St.
RSVP: The Hall Monitor
Listen: Listen to KUT’s audio of the District 3 forum, or watch KXAN’s video.
Update: The Austin Chronicle shared highlights of the forum, including where the candidates stand on urban rail and urban farms.

Several nonprofit and environmentalist groups, including Public Citizen and Sierra Club, are hosting candidate forums relating to Austin Energy. Candidates will be asked questions about energy sources, affordability, and governance of the city-owned utility. The events are open to the public. See a schedule for all six forums, held Sept. 12-29.
Districts 2 & 3 candidate forum — energy issues
When: 6 p.m. Sept. 19
Where: Austin JATC Electrical Training Center, 4000 Caven Road
More information: See the event’s Facebook page.

The City of Austin and the League of Women Voters are also hosting a series of candidate forums this month. The events are open to the public and will be broadcast and streamed online. See the schedule for all 11 forums, held Sept. 4-Oct. 1.
District 3 candidate forum
When: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 30
Where: Montopolis Recreation Center, 1200 Montopolis Drive
More information: See details at the city’s 10-One website.
Listen: Watch the forum on ATXN (formerly Chanel 6), listen on KAZI 88.7 FM, or watch live or archived online.

The same organizations will hold forums for candidates for mayor. See the following links for more information.
Ballot Boxing mayoral forum: 7 p.m. Oct. 15
Energy mayoral forum: 7 p.m. Sept. 29
City/League of Women Voters mayoral forum: 6 p.m. Oct. 1

The South Austin Civic Club is hosting a forum led by South Austin high school students, who will interview City Council District 2, 3, 5 and 8 candidates. Celebrity judges grade the panelists, awarding a trophy to the winning school. The public is welcome.
South Austin Civic Club Student-Candidate Forum
When: 6-9 p.m. Oct. 22
Where: Covington Middle School, 3700 Convict Hill Road

Learn more about the election and the District 3 City Council candidates in the Aug. 28 blog post in the Hurly-Burly or a Sept. 23 profile in the Austin American-Statesman. Look for the League’s Voters Guide in the Oct. 20 issue of the Austin American-Statesman or at the League of Women Voters’ website.

If you know of additional candidate forums, you can submit the information to the Hurly-Burly using the Contact Form.

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