Pecan Press – December 2014

Pecan Press December 2014

Upcoming HPNA Votes for December 1, 2014 Meeting

At the November 3, 1914 meeting of the Hyde Park Neighborhood Association (HPNA), the following two resolutions were proposed by members of the HPNA with regard to the rezoning (from SF-3-NCCD-NP to NO-NCCD-NP) of the property at 4500 Speedway to facilitate its use as a restaurant:

Resolution One:

The Hyde Park Neighborhood Association does not support the zoning change and the changes to the neighborhood plan.

Resolution Two:

The Hyde Park Neighborhood Association supports the restaurant with minimal zoning changes.

These two proposed resolutions will be discussed, possibly amended, and voted on at the December 1, 2014 meeting of the Hyde Park Neighborhood Association.

We did not post, as required by our bylaws, a notice about the ADU vote to the Fresh+ bulletin board. As a result, someone has protested the vote and we will have to revote at the December 1, 2014 meeting.

ADU Resolution:

City Council resolutions concerning Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) should not override the neighborhood planning process or neighborhood plans.  Therefore the Hyde Park Neighborhood Association does not support a city-wide or blanket policy change pertaining to the construction of ADUs, such as resolution #20140612-062 passed by the City Council on June 12, 2014.  We see our neighborhood plan, which grew out of a process of civic participation, as central to maintaining the character and the quality of life of our neighborhood.

In order to vote on all these resolutions, you must be a dues-paid member of the HPNA for a period of 30 days before the vote takes place.

The Hyde Park Homes Tour Heads North of 45th Street

The 38th Annual Historic Hyde Park Homes Tour will take place Sunday, November 9, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Six beautifully renovated homes are featured on this year’s tour. They include a restored City of Austin landmark property that is a rare example of a brick Arts and Crafts house, a tiny 1939 bungalow that was expanded rather than demolished by its architect owner, a 1925 board and batten style cottage that has had only two owners, two 1935 bungalows that reflect their owners’ creativity and world travels, and a 1910 Victorian that was removed from the UT area in the 1950s and has been twice saved from demolition.

601 E 49th. Photo: Liz Williams

601 E 49th Street. Photo: Liz Williams

Since the tour extends from Avenue D to Caswell and from 45th to 53rd Streets, we encourage visitors to embrace the theme “A Ride Through Hyde Park” by riding a bicycle to fully experience the beautiful neighborhood and the crisp fall weather. Those who do not have their own bikes may rent one at the tour headquarters. RSVPs for bike rentals are suggested and may be made at the tour website. A complimentary bus will also circle the tour route.

4502 Avenue G. Photo: Liz Williams

4502 Avenue G. Photo: Liz Williams

Tickets are $20 and may be purchased online and on the day of the tour at The Griffin School at 5001 Evans Avenue. In addition to being the event headquarters, the school is also featured on the tour, as it has been transformed and repurposed from its original use as a Methodist Church.

4507 Avenue D. Photo: Liz Williams

4507 Avenue D. Photo: Liz Williams

Parking for the tour will be available at the school, with additional parking after 12 p.m. at Ridgetop Baptist Church located at 708 E. 51st Street.

4615 Caswell Avenue. Photo: Liz Williams

4615 Caswell Avenue. Photo: Liz Williams

The homes tour is the largest fundraiser for the Hyde Park Neighborhood Association and hundreds of volunteers annually join together to plan and showcase our historic neighborhood. Once again the tour is generously presented by Suzanne Pringle of Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty and is also supported by sponsors and ticket sales.

4915 Avenue H. Photo: Liz Williams

4915 Avenue H. Photo: Liz Williams

Additional information about the tour may be directed to Homes Tour chair, Carolyn Grimes.

5311 Duval Street. Photo: Liz Williams

5311 Duval Street. Photo: Liz Williams

–Carolyn Grimes

Lee Elementary Celebrates 75 Years

Lee Elementary, serving students from the Hyde Park, Hancock, North University and Eastwood neighborhoods, celebrated its 75th anniversary on the Lee campus on October 2. With an attendance of about 600 current, former, and future Lee students, families, and staff, the celebration was a resounding success.

During the two-hour event, alumni from the 1940s up through the 2010s roamed the school’s hallways, checking out old classrooms and viewing yearbooks and artifacts from each decade. Visitors could also view art work from current students that depicted important people and events over the past 75 years.

Attendees celebrate the school’s birthday. Photo:  Deric Garza

Attendees celebrate the school’s birthday. Photo: Deric Garza

Outside, under the Live Oaks, current Lee parents and Texas musicians, Bruce Robison and Hayes Carll, played a small concert as people of all ages gathered, reconnected, and reminisced about their time at Lee. Local food trucks sold food and visitors were treated to a Lee-themed anniversary cake by Lee parent Paloma Efron of Coco Paloma Desserts, French macarons by Lee parent Tracey Cole of Cookie Peace, and dark chocolate truffle lollipops by Lee parent Steve Lawrence of the Chocolate Makers Studio.

Current Lee principal John Hewlett, PTA president Kim Brackin, past president of the Lee PTA and Austin Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole, and former Lee principal Mary Lou Clayton, who served Lee for 22 years, spoke at the event and talked about what makes Lee a special place.

Robert E. Lee was built in 1939 among large, old Live Oak trees on Waller Creek, three blocks north of the University of Texas campus. The first students attended Lee in September of 1939. It was the first AISD School fueled by natural gas instead of coal.

Over the years several renovations and additions have been completed for the Lee campus. The fact that Lee is bounded by Waller Creek means that expansion in portable buildings has not been an option, so the school has remained small. Currently, Lee serves around 400 students.

–Shannon Cavanagh


Fall from Grace (Poem)

This is what I never hear about

in Eastern philosophy: each time

I reach a state of grace, it’s

followed by a fall. Maybe that’s

why artists are never saints:

they ride that state until there’s

nothing left and then plunge into

the existential sea, melted wings

flailing. Is this just me? Am

I the only one not doing it right?

Maybe it’s the desire to create

that topples us, that one thing

we won’t let go of, that urge

deep as bone. The Goddess smiles.

Does that signal approval or

am I just one of her private jokes?


Huffstickler (at Dolce Vita)

June 13, 2000

December in Sonoma (Poem)

The maples are in full flame,

Here in Sonoma,

Driving to and through

Wine country

Is both daunting and awe-inspiring


If you have ever cursed the rain,

You must never have seen

Cloudlets shrouding firs of deepest green

Rising behind a flaming yellow,

No, orange, or red, or all three

In a cacophony of color

Set off by the gray, early in the day.


Words swirl through my humbled mind

As nature, once again,

Brings me to my knees.




Another Velvet Morning (Poem)

Another velvet morning

Air, luscious, caressing skin,

Flutters the fabric of my night garb,

The day is only beginning,

Time suspended


Will the sun shine, moisture rising,

Will it rain, the moisture adhere,

Caressing flora the way the velvet

Touches my skin?


Rain and sun, together,

Water, light, and heat,

Rise, disperse, and steaming,

Filling space between earth and sky,

Filling air between the night and day,

Expands until it overflows,

Seeping into the night,


Softening the edges of the stars,

Cushioning the edges of the dreams

That might pierce the night, if not somehow

Softened by the errant steam,

Rising from the marriage of

Rain and sun, softening the morning,

Another velvet morning.




Air Conditioner (Poem)

White noise, soothing, silencing
Making the sheets cold.

–Adam Callaway

Voting Matters at the November 3, 2014 HPNA Meeting

The following drafts of two items will be discussed and voted on at the general meeting on Nov. 3:

A Letter of Thanks

To Mayor Lee Leffingwell, Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole, Council Members Laura Morrison, Kathie Tovo, Mike Martinez, Chris Riley, and Bill Spelman; PARD Director Sara Hensley, Assistant Director Kimberly McNeeley, Aquatics Manager Cheryl Bolin, and PARD Staff:

On behalf of the local community, the members of the Hyde Park Neighborhood Association would like to express our gratitude to this City Council for the approval of a Parks and Recreation Department budget that sets aside $6.2 million to renovate or replace both Shipe and Govalle pools.

Neighborhood parks and pools provide an essential public service and are assets to our communities. In addition to the reprieve they provide during hot summer months, local pools are a safe social setting for children during summer recess, an opportunity for young adults to learn life-saving techniques as lifeguards, and a gathering place for neighbors.

Thank you for your dedication to our parks system and to Shipe Pool. We’re excited to see the results of your commitment to restore our neighborhood pool.


HPNA officers

A Resolution on City Council ADU Resolutions

City Council resolutions concerning Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) should not override the neighborhood planning process or neighborhood plans. Therefore the Hyde Park Neighborhood Association does not support a city-wide or blanket policy change pertaining to the construction of ADUs, such as the Martinez-Riley resolution passed by the City Council on June 12, 2014. We see our neighborhood plan, which grew out of a process of civic participation, as central to maintaining the character and the quality of life of our neighborhood.

Around and About the Avenues – November 2014

Please Vote: This publication urges all eligible voters in the neighborhood to vote on or before Tuesday November 4. Apart from races at the federal level, crucial state, county, and city positions are up for election, including bond propositions on such matters as transportation and Austin Community College. The ballot will be challengingly long. This election of course will also inaugurate a new governance structure in Austin, with all the questions and uncertainties that will bring. This election is too important to leave it up to others to decide.

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Fire Station Festival: We have every confidence that the festival on October 19 was a great success, but the event happened too late for a report in this issue. Coverage, including photos, announcements of winners and honorees, and expressions of thanks to volunteers and sponsors, will appear in the December issue.

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Mark Your Calendars: The annual Hyde Park Holidays Party will take place Sunday, December 14, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Elisabet Ney Museum. Drinks and refreshments will be served. Leave a wish on the Wish Tree! If you would like to volunteer to help with the party, please contact Tammy Young.

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Pecan Press News: The editor warmly welcomes Deaton Bednar to this publication’s Advisory Board. She joins Grant Thomas, Lisa Harris, and Kevin Heyburn.   That’s an impressive crew, to say the least. On another note, readers might be wondering where the minutes of the October HPNA general meeting are. They were not submitted for publication. And lastly, several very reasonably-minded neighbors mentioned that they found a passage in a recent article to be offensive. Others must have, too. The editor apologies for this oversight. Although he didn’t originally read the passage as offensive, it is his duty to make sure that the publication remains free of passages that might be taken as offensive. Passionate advocacy is fine, but the language and tone must remain civil and respectful. The editor promises to be more vigilant.

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Opportunity To Support Austin’s Architectural and Cultural Past: Inherit Austin, a membership group within Preservation Austin, will host its fifth annual “Somewhere in Time” fundraising dinner at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 5 at Formosa, the onetime home and studio of sculptor Elisabet Ney (304 East 44th Street). Guests can enjoy drinks and dinner under the stars and tour the historic property purchased in 1892 by Ney, which became a gathering place for influential Texans drawn to “Miss Ney” and stimulating discussions of politics, art and philosophy. Following Ney’s death in 1907, her friends preserved the studio and its contents as the Elisabet Ney Museum. Since 1941, Formosa has been a property of the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department. Tickets are $100 per guest.

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Host International Students: Simply International is a local business that helps international students at UT and other local colleges find housing, furniture, transportation, and cell phones. Many students from Europe, Asia, and the Middle East want to live with families near the UT campus. Hosting a student for one semester or two pays cultural dividends in addition to the $700 per month compensation. Common questions can be answered at  under “Become a Host.” Those interested in informally exploring the possibilities with a knowledgeable neighbor can contact Travis Vilmont.

From the Desk of the Co-Presidents – November 2014

It’s that time of year again, when neighborhood activities follow each other in quick succession, winding up with our holiday party in December. Coming as they do in conjunction with election time and a general pickup in activity due to cooler weather, they foretell a busy period during autumn and early winter. Our Fire Station Festival is our annual turning inward, celebrating what we as a community have achieved over the 40 years of the revival of our neighborhood. Our Homes Tour is our annual turning outward, displaying our rich history and architecture to the public.

Fire Station Festival

This year’s festival was once again a wonderful occasion for both children and adults. Good food, good company, costumes, and a sense of celebration added up to a great event. As we always do, we recognized our fire fighters and we recognized the people who have contributed to our community. We want to thank Deaton Bednar and her dedicated team of volunteers for an occasion enjoyed by all.

Hyde Park Homes Tour

Everyone in Hyde Park has heard of Col. Monroe Shipe, Elisabet Ney, and Shadow Lawn, but how many Hyde Parkers have heard of W.T. Caswell, J.J. Hegman, and Patterson Heights? This year, we begin to mine the rich history and architecture of the area north of 45th Street in our first Homes Tour that focuses entirely on that area. Carolyn Grimes and her team have been working on this tour for many months; and we encourage everyone both to volunteer as a docent, ticket seller, or other participant and to take the tour and learn some of the lesser-known history of Hyde Park.

Congratulations to Dorothy Richter

Hyde Park has always been familiar with the achievements of Dorothy Richter, the “Mayor of Hyde Park,” and we’ve always appreciated them. Now the City of Austin joins us in that recognition: on October 22, Dorothy was inducted into the Austin Women’s Hall of Fame, an honor long overdue. We extend our congratulations to her and hope for her continuing success and contributions to the community.

— Kevin Heyburn & Lorre Weidlich

HPNA Co-Presidents

Pecan Press – November 2014

Pecan Press November 2014

Fire Station Festival – Forty Years and Counting

Yes, now in its 40th year, this year’s annual Fire Station Festival will take place on Sunday, October 19. As preparations are under way, coordinators can already tell that this year will be something truly special.

Hosted by HPNA and sponsored by Grande Communications, the festival will again provide an opportunity for neighbors of all ages to come together on what we hope will be a beautiful fall day, commemorate the saving of our fire station, and celebrate our great community.  Indeed, over the years the festival has become the community-building event in Hyde Park. Hundreds and hundreds of people participate.

The festival will kick off in Shipe Park at 3:55 p.m. sharp with a lively 6-block parade. Children, adults, and pets are encouraged to debut their Halloween costumes while marching in the procession, which will be led by a fire truck and drummers of the Eastside Panther Band. Participants in the parade arrive at 3:30 p.m. to line up.

The festivities will lead to Fire Station 9 at 43rd Street and Speedway, where food and live music by Beatles tribute band The Eggmen await.

At the 2013 Fire Station Festival, Deaton Bednar was seen taking time out to participate in the fun.  This year, she is once again chairing the event, with much appreciation from her neighbors.  Photo: Lizzie Chen

At the 2013 Fire Station Festival, Deaton Bednar was seen taking time out to participate in the fun. This year, she is once again chairing the event, with much appreciation from her neighbors. Photo: Lizzie Chen

As always, festival-goers will have the opportunity to enter the costume contest for prizes in categories like scariest, funniest, best pet, and best family. The classic fishing booth will also be returning, this year with a new look and many more prizes to be won from Toy Joy.

Little ones and kids can bet on enjoying a range of crafts and a puppet show by Hey Lolly Productions.

There will also be plenty of activities for the older kids to engage in. Sit for hair sculpture and flash tattoos. Shoot hoops against others for prizes. Take wacky portraits in the photo booth (sponsored by Carolyn Grimes of Coldwell Banker United Realtors).

This year, HPNA is excited to be partnering with BookSpring, a local organization that is dedicated to promoting children’s literacy. Neighbors can help support this cause, beginning now, by bringing gently used K-6 books to Fresh Plus on 43rd Street. There will also be a collection box at the festival.

The Fire Station Festival is the prime fall event for Hyde Park residents to share good spirits, mingle with firefighters, and appreciate our neighborhood’s strengths that make the afternoon possible. All are welcome.


–Mary Lynam

Staff Writer Intern

A Victory Lap for the Shipe Pools

Such great and welcome news for Hyde Park! On September 9, the Austin City Council approved a 2015 budget package that included a last minute additional request for money to replace 7 pools, including both Shipe Pools. In a recent aquatics assessment, these 7 pools were predicted to “suffer mechanical or structural failure within five years.”

While the City Council could not find the money in this budget cycle to replace all the pools, they did select the Shipe Pools and Govalle Pool to receive $6.3 million, with Shipe receiving $3.1 million for replacement of the aging pools and mechanical systems.  The budget also included funds to reopen the new Bartholomew Pool as a year round pool effective as soon as they can schedule the lifeguards and prep the pool.

According to Cheryl Bolin, aquatics director, the money will be received in October and set aside while the process of community input, design, bidding and construction is conducted.


The crowd at Shipe does cannonballs to mark the pool’s closing for the year on Sunday, August 24

The crowd at Shipe does cannonballs to mark the pool’s closing for the year on Sunday, August 24. Photo: Clif Wright

Hyde Parkers will have much to think about as they identify goals for the new pools. What would residents like to see in a new Shipe Pool? Diving board?  Swim meets?  Or should it retain the same footprint with new facilities? The new Westenfield Pool is a recent example of an aging pool that was replaced with a big pool, along with a fun baby pool area, bathroom, first-aid office, equipment storage area, native landscaping, sculptures and shade structures.

We applaud Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) for bucking the national trend of closing neighborhood pools in favor of big municipal ones, something that has happened in Dallas and Houston. Fort Worth also lost all of its neighborhood pools until the community managed to reopen one of them with private funding. Austin City Council and PARD listened and responded to our requests to keep our neighborhood pools open, in accord with the Imagine Austin plan. We salute Council member Laura Morrison who has chosen to focus on neighborhood pools as one of her legacies and Kathie Tovo for her tireless support of our neighborhoods and parks, including Shipe Park. And we thank Chris Riley, Sheryl Cole, Bill Spelman and the entire City Council for voting to save Shipe Pool!

Stay tuned to the Hyde Park listserv and the facebook page Friends of Shipe Park or for more information regarding the community input portion of the process. Exciting days are ahead.


–Alison Young

Friends of Shipe Park

The ADU Controversy: Two Opinion Pieces

From Karen McGraw

There are many questions surrounding the Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) resolution initiated by Council Members Chris Riley and Mike Martinez.  It was adopted June 12 on a vote of 4-3 (Council Member Spelman and Mayor Leffingwell concurring and Council Members Morrison, Tovo and Cole voting no) to allow small second dwellings on every lot as small as 5,750 square feet all across Austin. The resolution directs the city manager to hold a stakeholder process and come back with a recommendation by October 12.  

In addition to reducing minimum lot size for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), the Council resolution triggering this proposal specifically contemplates changes to eliminate driveway and parking requirements, reduce building separation requirements, increase the maximum gross floor area for second-story ADUs, and allow a legally non-complying structure to add an ADU (for example, if your neighbor’s original garage is built on your property line without the setback required under current code, they’d be allowed to add a dwelling unit to it).  For details, visit

The resolution would potentially allow two dwelling units on almost every lot in Hyde Park, regardless of impacts on traffic, parking, infrastructure, and the privacy of nearby neighbors without appropriate zoning protections.

It’s been claimed these new units will increase affordability, though given escalating construction costs, rising property taxes, additional home insurance, and ongoing maintenance, the math on this is far from clear. Further, homeowners contemplating such an addition should be aware that they will lose their homestead property tax exemption on any portion of their property that is rented out, as one City Council member recently learned the hard way.

ADUs have also been touted as a way to increase available housing stock in Austin, but the current proposal makes no mention of prohibiting their use as short-term rentals (STRs, aka hotel rooms). Absent such a prohibition, many of these new units will likely not provide actual housing options for Austin residents.

Hyde Park neighbors spent years working to establish a type of zoning called a Neighborhood Conservation Combining District (NCCD) to protect many of the things we all love about this area. Our NCCDs allow two-family use on lots at least 7,000 square feet with standard city parking requirements (currently three spaces for two-family use in the urban core, or four spaces elsewhere.)  Since two of the required parking spaces may be “tandem” or stacked in a driveway, we already have extra cars on the street for many existing dwellings. Waiving all parking requirements for these new units will only add more cars to our streets.

Council Member Kathie Tovo countered (seconded by CM Morrison) the R/M proposal by suggesting it be established as a planning tool of choice, to be implemented only via the well-defined neighborhood planning process but these proposals were rejected by the makers. Because each neighborhood is different and certain areas within neighborhoods present different lot sizes and parking patterns, this sensible approach would allow for more fine-grained changes, ensuring that any new additional units do not overburden existing infrastructure or negatively impact the health, safety and privacy of immediate neighbors. It does not make sense to override all neighborhood plans by forcing this type of change as a blanket citywide policy. While the HP Contact Team has been discussing this issue and has not reached a position, it remains that the City Council could enact a measure that could completely override Hyde Park’s NCCDs. This is the reason for a stakeholder process and I think we should participate in that opportunity.

The current chair of Hyde Park’s Contact Team, Pete Gilcrease, stated at the September 8 Hyde Park Neighborhood Association (HPNA) meeting that if City Council enacts a version of an ADU proposal that applies citywide to all neighborhoods without any qualifications, “it won’t matter” what neighbors think. For this reason, I strongly believe we should weigh in on this issue as a group during the current stakeholder process and we should consider the issue as individuals in deciding whom to vote for in the upcoming City Council election.

To that end, I have asked the HPNA Steering Committee to place the item on the October 6 agenda for discussion and the November 3 agenda for a vote. I have also requested the Hyde Park Contact Team take a position on this issue at its October 27 meeting. The City Manager is expected to bring the ADU proposal back to City Council on October 12, but action will not likely occur before the November election.

In closing, I believe the City Council should respect the city’s well-established neighborhood planning process and allow changes such as this only after careful local consideration and widespread notification and input. I hope you will join me in urging a more considered approach to a proposal that has the potential to change the fabric of our neighborhood—and the daily lives of many residents—for a long time to come.


From Adrian Skinner

Much press has been given to matters concerning Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) over the last several months, both at the city and local level.  As residents and property owners in Hyde Park have debated the issue locally, City Council is considering a new ordinance, led by Chris Riley, which would ease parking requirements and other restrictions in an effort to encourage the development of homes less than 500 sq. ft. on existing residential lots around the city.

Many of our community members are concerned about the impact a citywide ordinance could have on Hyde Park.  Austin is growing and with growth comes change; the central question in the ADU debate is how Hyde Park ought to grow and change with Austin.  Opponents of the Riley ADU proposal fear the worst—bumper to bumper parking up and down the avenues, eroding property values, loss of green space, and mounting noise and trash issues as the neighborhood population increases. Some have also concluded that building affordable housing in Hyde Park through ADUs is not financially feasible.

I agree that these concerns must be given their due attention.  The city has a responsibility to enforce the codes around trash left curbside and noise violations that disturb the peace.  However, it would be misguided for us to assert a “right to park” on public streets.  The public street in front of my house does not belong to me; and unless a resident parking permit zone is established, anyone may lawfully park there.  Certainly, I’d rather have a view of my neighbor’s lawn and trees but the equity of public services, like our streets, is that they exist for the good of all.

Rather than focus on personal household decisions like financial feasibility, we ought to view the current Hyde Park Neighborhood Plan requirements that allow some property owners to build an ADU through an equity lens.  Provided that the requirements pertaining to impervious cover, floor to area ratio, setback, off street parking, design compatibility, and preservation of heritage trees are met, is it equitable to treat the property owner of a lot smaller than 7,000 sq. ft. differently from the property owner of a lot larger than 7,000 sq. ft.? It is not.
We should adopt a philosophy of equity instead of focusing on our fears and asserting property rights that are more akin to a caste system.  By doing so, we can address the big city problems that affect our daily quality of life together.  Instead of dividing our community by property lot size, let’s come together and find solutions that are equitable for everyone.

–Adrian Skinner

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