Survey will help city prioritize projects in our neighborhoods

In 2006, area residents helped decide what our neighborhood would be like in the future by working with the city on the East Riverside/Oltorf Combined (EROC) Neighborhood Plan.

Now the city would like your help prioritizing the projects that were recommended during that process. Projects include watershed protection; park and trail projects; traffic studies and signs; pedestrian and cycling infrastructure such as bike lanes, sidewalks and crosswalks; code amendments and enforcement; and changes to development and zoning rules.

You can review the list of projects in the Parker Lane section of EROC (see map), which includes the Burleson Heights and Burleson-Parker neighborhoods. Then take the Neighborhood Plan Prioritization Survey to help determine the five capital improvement projects and five noncapital improvement projects that are most important for the city to tackle over the next few years.

For more information, contact Jackie Chuter, senior planner, at (512) 974-2613 or jackie.chuter@austintexas.gov; or Malcolm Yeatts of the EROC Contact Team at myeatts@austin.rr.com.

Additional information on the neighborhood planning areas is available at the city’s Planning and Development Review website.

The deadline to complete the survey is Sept. 22.

Posted in City projects, Cycling, Parks and recreation, Traffic, Transportation, Water quality | Leave a comment

Meet your City Council candidates tonight

Burleson Heights is hosting an informal meeting with the candidates for the newly created District 3 City Council seat.

Under the 10-1 plan approved by Austin voters in 2012, Austin will be divided into 10 districts, each represented by one City Cοuncil member elected by residents in that district. The City Council will no longer be elected by Austinites at large.

Use the links at left to find your district or see a map of the new City Council districts.

Use the links at left to find your district, see a map of the new City Council districts and learn more about city government.

Burleson Heights and the Burleson-Parker neighborhoods are in District 3, which includes parts of East, South and Southeast Austin. View a PDF of the district map, or enter your address in the city portal to find out which district you’re in. You can learn more about the  Austin City Council and the new 10-1 districting plan from the City of Austin websites.

Following the Nov. 4 election, the new City Council will take office on Jan. 1, 2015.

So far six of the 12 candidates have confirmed that they will attend. Candidates who have qualified for the ballot include:

  • Susana Almanza, director of the nonprofit People Organized in Defense of Earth and Her Resources
  • Mario Cantu, EMT/paramedic
  • Julian Fernandez, musician
  • Chris Hoerster, student
  • Shaun Ireland, intergovernmental affairs director of a natural resources business
  • Fred McGhee, archaeologist/author/professor
  • Kent Phillips, pharmacy technician
  • Jose Quintero, project foreman
  • Eric Rangel, special projects coordinator at Texas Department of Transportation
  • Sabino “Pio” Renteria, retired customer service representative for IBM
  • Ricardo Turullols-Bonilla, high school science teacher
  • Jose Valera, attorney and restaurant owner

The event will be held outdoors, and residents are welcome to drop by and visit. Water will be available, but you may also bring other drinks or snacks.

City Council candidates meeting
When: 6:30 p.m. tonight, Aug. 28
Where: 2809 Ware Road

Update: The Austin American-Statesman profiled the 12 District 3 candidates in a Sept. 23 article.

Posted in Elections | Leave a comment

Bulk collection next week

Coming up the week of July 28, the Austin Resource Recovery department 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, 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

Google Fiber permits hint at first “fiberhoods”

It’s been more than a year since Google Inc. announced plans to bring Google Fiber to Austin, leading neighborhoods to wonder which would be the first to get the ultra-fast broadband service.

City-issued permits offer clues about where the neighborhoods that might get Google Fiber when the service is available late this year.

City-issued permits offer clues about which neighborhoods  might get Google Fiber first.

But ever since the company allowed potential customers to request service in their ZIP codes, it’s been silent on which areas have had enough demand to make the cut as the first “fiberhoods.”

Now a review of city permits offers some clues to who might be first to get the 1-gigabit Internet service. Read the Austin American-Statesman’s report about how parts of South and Southeast Austin have the most permits to install fiber-optic cable, and see an interactive map showing which streets have permits.

The Austin American-Statesman compiled a map showing the concentration of permits to install fiber-optic cable in South and Southeast Austin.

The Austin American-Statesman’s map shows the concentration of permits in South and Southeast Austin.

The permits could come as good news for residents along several Burleson Heights-area streets — including Burleson Road, Oltorf Street, Santa Monica Drive and Pleasant Valley Road — but they don’t come as a complete surprise.

For about six months, residents who have talked with fiber installers taking measurements along utility poles have been told that this area is likely to be among the first or second in town to get Google Fiber. The service will probably be available in the first fiberhoods by late this year, according to the Statesman story.

What have you heard? You can use the “Leave a comment” link below to let your neighbors know.

Posted in Construction, Media, Technology | Leave a comment

Fireworks safety for the Fourth of July

As the Independence Day holiday gets closer, here are some safe ways to have a blast.

If you want to see big fireworks, check out a public display like the municipal fireworks show and Austin Symphony concert on Auditorium Shores.

If you want to see big fireworks, check out a public display like the municipal fireworks show and Austin Symphony concert at Circuit of the Americas

Get ideas for fun things to do on the holiday from Austin 360, the Austin American-Statesman, the Austin Visitor Center, do512 and CultureMap Austin.

For a really big bang, check out the Austin Symphony concert and fireworks display at 8:30 p.m. on Friday. Because Auditorium Shores is undergoing renovations, this year’s celebration will be held right here in Southeast Austin — at the Austin360 Amphitheater at Circuit of the Americas. Free parking opens in Lot F at 3 p.m., and fireworks will begin at about 9:30 p.m. The concert will be simulcast on Majic 95.5 FM.

Keep in mind that there are strict limits on fireworks inside the city limits and in Travis County parks. Even though we had a rainy June, our region is experiencing a serious long-term drought, increasing the risk of fire from fireworks. You can check our current burn ban status at the Travis County Fire Marshal website, and keep an eye on our drought status at the U.S. Drought Monitor.

If you do use fireworks at home, please follow these fireworks safety tips and use only the varieties allowed within the city limits without a permit. Here’s a list from the Austin Fire Department.

  • Snake, glowworm: Pressed pyrotechnic pellet that produces a large, snakelike ash upon burning. May not contain mercuric thiocyanate.
  • Smoke device:  Pyrotechnic tube or sphere that, upon ignition, produces white or colored smoke.
  • Wire sparkler: Wire coated with pyrotechnic composition that produces  a shower of sparks upon ignition. May not contain magnesium.
  • Trick noisemakers: Including party poppers, booby traps, snappers, trick matches, cigarette loads and auto burglar alarms.

Remember, always have water on hand when using fireworks, and soak spent fireworks before discarding them in a garbage can. Get more tips for preventing fires and injuries from the National Council on Fireworks Safety.

To report a nonemergency fireworks violation, please call 311. Call 911 to report emergencies such as fires and crimes.

Have a happy and safe Independence Day!

Posted in Entertainment, Fire prevention, Holidays, Parks and recreation, Safety | Leave a comment

New York Times travels I-35 in search of immigration stories

Reporter Damien Cave and photographer Todd Heisler are traversing the U.S. on Interstate 35, one of the nation’s main pathways to a new life for immigrants.

As they search for America’s melting pots or unassimilated areas along the route, where should they look?

They’d like to hear from people in the I-35 corridor who can help them understand issues surrounding immigration. Learn more about their project and share information with them at their interactive website and the New York Times’ Facebook page.

Update: The 39-day series ended in late June. You can read the series online, where you can scroll to the bottom of the page to find links to the daily reports.

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Clean Sweep coming up on April 12

Neighborhood volunteers made a big impact in area parks during It’s My Park Day last month, and this weekend we have another chance to make Austin a better place during Clean Sweep.

Clean Sweep is Keep Austin Beautiful’s annual volunteer event at parks, waterways, schools and neighborhoods all around the city. Two of the closest cleanups to our neighborhood will be at Country Club Creek between Riverside and Oltorf and in the Blunn Creek Nature Preserve. You can use the Clean Sweep locator map to find more events, and can sign up online to volunteer.

Following the two-hour cleanup on Saturday, a volunteer party and environmental fair at Fiesta Gardens will feature free lunch and T-shirts, live music, games, contests and door prizes.

Clean Sweep: 9-11 a.m. April 12, various locations.
Volunteer party: 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. April 12, Fiesta Gardens

 

Posted in Parks and recreation, Volunteering | Leave a comment

Large brush collection starts April 7

The city will collect large brush in our area during the week of April 7. Set brush out by 6:30 a.m. Monday, and observe the following guidelines:

  • Stack unbound brush along the curb in one row no more than 4 feet high or 15 feet long.
  • Place the cut ends toward the curb.
  • If trunks are 3 to 8 inches in diameter, cut to lengths no longer than 6 feet. If trunks are more than 8 inches in diameter, cut to lengths of 3 feet or less.
  • Keep brush at least 5 feet away from your garbage cart or other obstacles, and do not place under low-hanging branches or wires.
  • Do not let brush extend into the street, block your mailbox or water meter, or lean against a fence or telephone connection box.
  • Crews will not pick up loose bamboo, vines or thorny brush. Cut into small pieces and set out in a plastic bin or Kraft-paper yard waste bag on your regular trash collection day.

While this might seem like a convenient time to prune, hold off on trimming any oak trees in the spring, when they are most susceptible to oak wilt. Austin has lost more than 10,000 oaks to the devastating disease, which is spread by beetles and has infected trees not far from our neighborhood. The safest times to prune oaks are the coldest or hottest times of the year.

For best results, avoid pruning oaks between Feb. 1 and June 30, paint fresh cuts to seal the wounds, and sterilize your tools after pruning each tree. Learn more about oak wilt prevention from the City of Austin or TexasOakWilt.org.

See more brush collection guidelines from the Austin Resource Recovery Department (formerly Solid Waste Services).

Posted in City services, Conservation, Garden & landscape | Leave a comment

Volunteers give area parks a makeover

Dozens of volunteers came out on a misty Saturday morning to donate sweat equity to Southeast Austin parks. They were part of It’s My Park Day, a citywide project coordinated by the nonprofit Austin Parks Foundation, which provided supplies and gave volunteers T-shirts, water, wildflower seeds and gift cards.

Thanks to all the volunteers who slogged through mud, removed trash and invasive plants, planted trees and made our parks a better place for people and wildlife! Here are the three parks near Burleson Heights that got makeovers on March 1.

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Heritage Oaks Park is named for the majestic live oak trees that cover this hillside pocket park on Parker Lane. In previous projects, the 400-year-old oaks at the top of the hill had been aerated and mulched with compost to help them survive drought conditions. On Saturday, several 100-year-old oaks lower on the slope got their own blanket of mulch.

In less than four hours, nine volunteers spread 10 cubic yards under the trees, said event organizer Helen Fleming. The oaks do not get any surface irrigation, but have access to water from a spring that feeds a pond and a branch of Harper’s Creek.

The pond is fenced to preserve habitat for foxes, swans, migratory birds, turtles, frogs, toads and other wildlife in the urban oasis. The site has also been selected for the city’s first pond project under the Grow Zone initiative, which will restore the natural plant community along the pond and creek, improving water quality and wildlife habitat.

One of the newest parks in Southeast Austin, the 3.5-acre park was once home to an estate and Colonial Revival mansion. Learn more about its history in this January 2012 Hurly-Burly post.

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Nestled on the western edge of the Burleson-Parker neighborhood, Mabel Davis Park is the site of a spring-fed pond that forms one of the headwaters of Country Club Creek. Thanks to neighbohood volunteers, the pond is now ringed by a trail named for Cecilia Crossley, a neighborhood resident and longtime political figure and environmental advocate.

During Saturday’s cleanup, about 40 volunteers filled 50 bags with trash, removed invasive trees, and planted a cypress tree on the shore. Several used canoes to reach the banks of the pond, where water bottles, styrofoam cups and other trash wash down from nearby Ben White Boulevard and other sources. Volunteers also removed several tires, a shopping cart, a mattress, furniture and other debris.

The cleanup was one of several organized by photographer and author Mathew Sturtevant, who has been working with his neighbors and Austin nonprofit groups for over two years to establish the trail around the pond. Sturtevant has also made a presentation to students at nearby Linder Elementary School about littering’s impact on wildlife habitat and water quality, and has worked with fellow residents and the Austin Police and Code Enforcement departments to keep homeless camps out of the 50-acre park’s wooded areas.

This is the third year that residents have participated in It’s My Park Day at Mabel Davis Park.

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About 35 volunteers came to Roy G. Guerrero Colorado River Park on Saturday to remove invasive bamboo and clean up trash along Country Club Creek.

Two crews worked throughout the morning, removing about 2,500 square feet of bamboo and filling 45 large bags with trash. They also cleaned up debris from two homeless camps that had been concealed along the creek and in a bamboo grove near the Krieg Softball Complex, said organizer Malcolm Yeatts of the Southeast Austin Trails and Greenways Alliance (SEATAG).

SEATAG has been creating a network of trails along Country Club Creek that will eventually reach from the Colorado River to Mabel Davis Park, and holds several park cleanups and trail-building sessions a year. Many of Saturday’s volunteers are participants in College Forward, a nonprofit mentoring program for high school and college students.

It’s My Park Day was the second cleanup so far this year at Guerrero Park, located on the south shore of the Colorado River, east of Pleasant Valley Road.

Posted in Parks and recreation, Safety, Volunteering, Water quality, Wildlife | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Volunteer to improve an area park on It’s My Park Day

The biggest volunteer project of the year returns to area parks on March 1 for It’s My Park Day. Organized by the Austin Parks Foundation, this annual event mobilizes an army of volunteers across the city, who put in as many hours in one day as a city crew does in an entire year.

This year, three volunteer projects near our neighborhood can use your help, and volunteers who register early will receive a T-shirt in addition to water, gloves and a snack. Some park projects also offer door prizes.

Please dress appropriately for the weather in closed-toed shoes and long pants, and bring a bottle for water.

If you’d like to volunteer, register online to join your neighbors at one of these area parks.

Meet at 9 a.m. March 1 if you want to volunteer to help mulch around the majestic oaks in Heritage Oaks Park.

Heritage Oaks Park: Volunteers will meet at 9 a.m. March 1 to mulch around the majestic oak trees. Click to enlarge. (Image from Google.)

Heritage Oaks Park

What: Spread mulch in the critical root zone of this park’s 400-year-old live oak trees.
When: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (rain date: March 2)
Where: 21oo Parker Lane, at intersection with Windoak Drive

Volunteers will meet at 8:30 a.m. Saturday for a cleanup at Mabel Davis Park. (Photo from Google.)

Mabel Davis Park: Volunteers will meet at 9 a.m. March 1 for a park and pond cleanup. Click to enlarge. (Image from Google.)

Mabel Davis Park

What: Pick up trash around the trail and pond, and help remove invasive ligustrum trees.
When: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 1 (rain date: March 2)
Where: 3427 Parker Lane

Volunteers will meet at 9 a.m. Saturday for a cleanup at Roy G. Guerrero Colorado River Park. Click to enlarge. (Photo from Google.)

Roy G. Guerrero Colorado River Park: Volunteers will meet at 9 a.m. March 1 for a cleanup near Krieg Fields. Click to enlarge. (Image from Google.)

Roy G. Guerrero Colorado River Park

What: Pick up trash along Country Club Creek and  remove invasive bamboo.
When: 9 a.m. to noon March 1 (rain date: March 2)
Where: 515 S. Pleasant Valley Road. Meet in the Krieg Fields parking lot, near the entrance to Country Club Creek Trail.
More information: Country Club Creek Trail cleanup

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