This past Saturday we had many volunteers meet up at our neighborhood park for “It’s My Park Day”. The weather could not have been better! The hearty crew spread mulch around trees and did some trash pick-up. In addition to enjoying some good snacks and t-shirt schwag, we were visited by Council member Ann Kitchen. Thanks to J Rhatigan for organizing the effort and thanks to all who lent a hand to help our park!
We received the following update from the City of Austin about the Del Curto Storm Drain improvements. Visit this link for the background information about this project.
We are entering into the “Design Phase” for the Del Curto Storm Drain Project.
During design, our engineering consultant will be working out all the details of the proposed project. The design phase ends with a set of construction plans that will be used to permit, bid and construct the project. The project¹s goal is to allow storm water to flow safely to West Bouldin Creek through a combination of underground pipes and open channels. The water will enter West Bouldin Creek near Thornton.
The project will include the following components:
We will install curb and gutter along a short stretch of Bluebonnet Lane where there is currently none. The area is between Del Curto Road and South Lamar Boulevard. Curb and gutter can help keep storm water in the street.
Storm Drain Bypass
We will install an underground pipe and associated inlets on part of Bluebonnet Lane, Del Curto Road, Delcrest Drive and Kinney Road. The bypass pipe will capture rainwater and release it into the channel that runs between Kinney and Thornton.
We will increase the capacity of the channel between Kinney and Thornton. This could include making the channel wider or deeper or other options.
Storm Drain Conveyance from Thornton to West Bouldin Creek
After storm water flows through the channel between Kinney and Thornton, it crosses Thornton and flows overland into West Bouldin Creek. We will provide a path for the water to take across this area. It could take the form of a pipe or improvements to the channel or some combination.
We will acquire drainage easements at various locations in the project area. Drainage easements are a designated place for water to flow during storms. In some cases, they are also needed for access or maintenance of the drainage system.
Green Streets Component Dropped
During the internal review of this project, it was decided not to pursue the Green Streets initiative on Iva and Delcrest that was presented at the public meeting in September. This option would have improved water quality, but not the flooding.
The internal review took longer than we initially thought. We are currently expecting to start construction in the summer of 2017. This assumes that the easement acquisition process goes smoothly.
The Zika Virus is making the news as it is rapidly spreading throughout South, Central, and now into North America. Our IPM Program Specialist, Wizzie Brown, recently blogged about the virus in her “Urban IPM” blog: http://urban-ipm.blogspot.com/
IPM stands for “Integrated Pest Management”, and Wizzie’s job through the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension service is to help manage our urban insects – everything from ants, termites, and aphids to butterflies and honey bees … you name it. She helps us understand the beneficial insects and how to manage those that aren’t. Wizzie is a great resource for us.
We encourage everyone to read Wizzie’s blog and the references that she cites for more information about Zika.
As a neighborhood, we can do a lot to protect ourselves from this virus by being vigilant against standing water. Please empty any containers that collect water so mosquitoes don’t have a breeding ground. Look for anything in your yard that holds even the smallest amount of water such as buckets, flower pot trays, tarps, old tires, vehicles, boats, kayaks, etc. If you see standing water on city property, please call 311 to report it. Go on a mosquito safari in your own back yard with the folks at Texas A&M: http://mosquitosafari.tamu.edu/
The City of Austin Watershed Protection Department held a public meeting on September 3rd to discuss the flooding and drainage issues in the West Bouldin Creek Watershed. This watershed is the area along West Bouldin Creek as it flows from the Zilker neighborhood through SLNA. The watershed department presented a detailed discussion of the problems, and a solution that would be implemented in two phases:
- Phase 1: Construct “small-scale” projects to improve drainage and reduce flooding
- Phase 2: A larger project to address flooding identified in the Preliminary Engineering Report.
Phase 1 is expected to begin in 2016.
The materials presented at the meeting are a very interesting read, and are available online at the links below. We encourage you to have a look. They discussed how projects get prioritized, how storm drain systems work, the history and scope of the problems seen in the Del Curto area, the Preliminary Engineering Report which identified the need for additional inlets, upgrades to existing pipe, additional pipe, and keeping the storm drains within the public Right-of-Way; as well as issues raised such as cost, South Lamar construction, and time-frame.
Twenty small projects were identified as possible enhancements to be made in Phase 1, which is expected to begin in 2016. One of the projects discussed was the “Green Streets” project on Iva and Delcrest, which would reduce the road-way widths and change the streets to be 1-way. The longer term, Phase 2 work would see some preliminary work happen concurrently with Phase 1, but the detailed design would not begin until after Phase 1, probably in 2018.
The Watershed Department staff identified ways that all of us in SLNA can help:
- Avoid building in drainage easements
- Clear easements of obstructions
- Report flooding and drainage concerns to 3-1-1. The “squeaky wheel gets the grease”.
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org and request more information about flood-proofing
We encourage you to read the presentation materials that we have put on the website. You can find them at:
- September 3 Meeting Presentation
- Del Curto Project Area Phase 1A Study
- Del Curto Project Area Phase 1A Maps
It is very exciting to see these efforts to address the problems that we have seen in SLNA, problems which have gotten significantly worse with all of the infill development. Stay tuned!
Do you remember when our neighborhood was peaceful and quiet, and this time of year you could, at long last, open your windows to enjoy the cool fall weather? It’s hard to even imagine that now with all of the construction noise, dust, and smells wafting through the neighborhood!
This seems like a very good time to update you on the status of the South Lamar Mitigation Plan. As you recall, the City Council passed a resolution directing the City Manager to come up with a mitigation plan to address the negative effects of infill development in our neighborhood. The City Manager was to give a presentation to the Comprehensive Plan and Transportation Council Committee by August 4, and report to Council by August 15, with a timeline for the Mitigation Plan and a detailed approach to develop the recommendations for the enhanced tools and related opportunities for the CodeNext effort.
Here’s what has been happening and the results to date of this Resolution:
- May 1 – City Council unanimously passed the South Lamar Mitigation Plan, Resolution No. 20140501-042
- July 9 – residents met with city staff to present issues of concern
- September 4 – City Staff gave their Briefing on the South Lamar Neighborhood Mitigation Plan to the Comprehensive Planning and Transportation Committee, addressing the South Lamar Neighborhood infill issues, city staff’s general findings, possible revisions to the Land Development Code, and next steps. The presenters were Mark Walters, Planner Senior, Planning and Development Review; Robert Spillar, Director, Austin Transportation; and Jorge Morales, Engineer, Watershed Protection. You can view the video of the presentation here (it is Item #5) and view their presentation document here.
- October 3 – Greg Guersney, Director of the Planning and Development Review Department, sent a Memo to City Council which is the City Staff response to the resolution with their recommendations. You can read that memo here.
There are certainly some items of concern in this memo and we hope you read it and get engaged in this ongoing process!
UPDATE 10/6/2015 – Recent proposals by COA Watershed Protection Department to address flooding and drainage issues were presented at a public meeting on September 3, 2015. See details in this post: Del Curto Storm Drain Improvements – West Bouldin Watershed
Neighborhoods all over Austin are experiencing rapid growth, and certainly South Lamar Neighborhood ranks among the top for development and density increase. You have probably heard or read about the “South Lamar Neighborhood Mitigation Plan”, a resolution passed unanimously this year by City Council directing the City Manager to develop a plan to address the negative effects of infill development specifically in our neighborhood. The resolution strives to address the years of development we have experienced which has led to our problems of flooding, traffic, and lack of supportive infrastructure.
The mitigation plan is a positive development towards improving our future. But perhaps even more important, we now have the opportunity to influence our own future by electing our District 5 representative in the upcoming City Council elections.
In order to get acquainted with the candidates, SLNA is participating in the District 5 Three-Neighborhood City Council Candidate Forum, along with our neighbors in two adjoining neighborhood associations Barton Oaks and Zilker.
This forum was originally scheduled in September, but cancelled on account of threatening weather. Now it has been rescheduled for Thursday Oct. 9, 6:15-8:30 at Faith United Methodist Church, 2701 S. Lamar.
We will be conducting 15-minute interviews of all (we hope) of the District 5 candidates.
Here they are in alphabetical order:
Dan Buda http://www.danbuda.com/
Jason Denny http://www.dennyfordistrict5.org/
Dave Floyd http://www.floydfor5.com/
CarolAnnRose Kennedy no website
Ann Kitchen http://kitchenforaustin.com/
Mike Rodriguez http://www.mikerodriguezforaustincouncil.com/
David Senecal http://www.davesenecalatx5.com/
The idea is to ask questions of each candidate in isolation, so that they won’t pick up from each other and there won’t be interplay between them during the interview.
We have an important job opening to fill. We hope to see you there on Thursday!
We’ve got some good development news! The flood mitigation project on Del Curto is well underway.
As you are most likely aware, several of our neighbors along a stretch of Del Curto near Bluebonnet have had their homes flooded one or more times due to new development activity. Homes that have been here for decades and never had an issue with flooding, all of a sudden were flooded, some even after just modest rains.
The City of Austin (correction) The Developer is installing new curbs and driveway cuts to divert the water down the street. We are certainly hoping for our neighbors that this flooding nightmare is nearing an end.
One can’t help but wonder where all this water will go? The hope is it will run south down the hill on Del Curto to the creek. Hopefully this happens without incident to the downhill, uncurbed neighbors. Stay tuned.
We are on the brink of incredible change in SLNA, and our once pastoral, quiet, little neighborhood is quickly being transformed. Transformed into what? We don’t yet know. On the one hand is the ideal of “Smart Growth”: compact, walkable urban areas of sustainable housing and open space where community is nurtured in concert with the existing neighborhood. On the other hand is development run roughshod, where every available square inch is paved over to maximize density and profit. In SLNA, the ball is rolling, but we don’t know in what direction. Whether we end up looking like an urban planner’s glossy flyer, or simply a bunch of condos and houses all crammed in together is yet to be seen. A few rain barrels does not “Smart Growth” make.
In SLNA we sit squarely in the “Desired Development Zone”: This yellow area on the map is the urban core that the city of Austin has designated for major growth. You have already seen the large number of development projects starting up on South Lamar. This development is not stopping at our neighborhood boundaries!
We have already seen one neighbor on Del Curto sustain substantial flood damage due to new development. The flood cleanup alone cost over $15,000 out-of-pocket, and the situation is not yet resolved. How this legal entanglement will unfold is not clear. The flood potential at the site still exists, leaving the homeowner in limbo.
On Del Curto alone, there are 7 large properties where development is either taking place or soon could be. How will this affect our neighborhood? What infrastructure improvements need to be made to sustain the cumulative impact of all of these developments? How will this affect flooding along Del Curto and Cinnamon Path? Will you be building a sandbag wall? How will this affect traffic and other issues of public safety?
If you’d like to hear more about the current developments being planned in our neighborhood, meet your neighbors and share your opinions, please join us for our neighborhood meeting tomorrow night, Thursday, June 21 at 7PM. The meeting is taking place at the Faith United Methodist Church at 2701 South Lamar Blvd. We will be in classroom Alpha-2.
We hope to see you there!
And unfortunately that means more break-ins in SLNA are likely to occur. We’ve already had reports from a few neighbors about cars and homes being broken into, and of suspicious ‘security alarm salesmen’ going door-to-door. This is a good time to remind everyone to be on the lookout for suspicious activity. If you see something in progress, please call 911. If you feel something is amiss but don’t feel it is of an emergency nature, then call 311 to report it. In either case, let your neighbors know.
This is a good time to get on the South Lamar Yahoo group email list to share and get updates on this type of information. Visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SouthLamarNA/ for more information.
Austin Police Department provides a Crime Viewer utility where you can see what crimes have occurred in your area. Find that site here: http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/GIS/crimeviewer/CrimeViewer_disclaimer.html.
Another useful sight is Jack Darby’s Krimelabb. Many of you remember Jack from our April 2012 SLNA meeting where he talked to us about the valuable services that Krimelabb provides. Visit Krimelabb here: http://www.krimelabb.com, and get up-to-date Krimelabb tweets at: https://twitter.com/#!/krimelabb. Krimelabb just tweeted some interesting news and also posted a security alert about these ‘salesmen’.
Remember to lock your doors and windows, and keep valuables out of sight!
The City of Austin unveiled a beta version of the long-awaited new website today. Years in the making, the site is a much needed improvement over the old one. The new site features faster searching, easier navigation, and integration with your favorite social networking sites. The site is a work in progress so you have ample opportunity to weigh in on the final product. Have a look and give your feedback today.