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The Arts in Hyde Park – Hyde Park Theatre

Every weekend, around 8:00 pm, something unusual happens at the corner of 43rd and Guadalupe in Hyde Park.

At this location, a few years ago, a group of dysfunctional people in a filthy trailer park hired a hitman to murder a member of their family. More recently, at the same location, a preacher started a fight with his congregation and his wife over the existence of Hell. Then there was the weekend when an uncle could be found reconciling with his niece in a hut among the trees. And some weekends a man or woman will show up to tell the story of his or her life to anyone who will listen.

People from all over the state come to witness these events. If you want to share in these experiences, you need only walk over to the corner of 43rd and Guadalupe, pay a modest admission fee, and find a seat in the Hyde Park Theatre.

When I moved to Austin in the 1990s, I was surprised to learn that Austin had a much busier theatre scene than Houston did. A big reason for this is Ken Webster, the Artistic Director of Hyde Park Theatre. Hyde Park Theatre’s stage rarely goes dark, because, in addition to Mr. Webster’s own productions, the theatre features work from other acting companies and hosts an annual four week drama festival each winter. It is one of the busiest play houses in the city.

Hyde Park Theatre, originally built as a neighborhood post office (circa 1947), began a new life as a theatrical venue in 1982. It is small and unpretentious, with seating for only 70 to 85 patrons. No seat is more than 25 feet from the center stage, thereby creating an unusual intimacy between audience and performer. This intimacy, and the opportunities and challenges it presents, has caused some of Austin’s best actors, designers, and directors to want to produce plays there.

If you have not yet been inside the theatre, please come to our June Neighborhood Association meeting. You will not only get to see the theatre but you will also get to hear Ken Webster talk to us about Hyde Park Theatre’s past, present, and future. I hope you can make it to the meeting, and I hope you will eventually see some of the wonderful shows the theatre puts on throughout the year.

By Kevin Heyburn

Presidents’ Letter – June 2015

Summer!

This issue of the Pecan Press brings us to June, the start of summer. We have much to be grateful for this summer. Barring unforeseen circumstances, our pools will open on schedule, Shipe Pool on Monday, June 8, and Shipe Wading Pool on Tuesday, June 16. We can also look forward to the 7th Annual Shipe Pool Party and Movie Night on Saturday, June 20th this year. We still haven’t heard anything about the dates for constructing Shipe Pool anew, but the community engagement process for the design of the new pool should begin this winter.

We’re excited to announce the first recipient of our lifeguard scholarship, Alberto Edwards. Alberto already had a conditional offer of employment with the City of Austin Lifeguard Program, so he was a perfect candidate for one of our scholarships. Congratulations, Alberto!

Resolution

The HPNA has an important resolution to vote on at our June meeting: Should Hyde Park volunteer to be a CodeNext test neighborhood? Four areas around Austin will be used as test areas to apply some of the CodeNext principles, to determine what effect the code would have on those areas. In the words of our May speaker, Jeff Jack (see related article on the facing page), “It’s going to be very important they pick (an area) with a neighborhood plan that has been adopted, that has a strong neighborhood association, has a strong contact team, and has all the characteristics that are going to exemplify what the code write is going to be: core transit corridor, proportion of residential that backs up to commercial strips, infrastructure.” Hyde Park certainly has those characteristics. Watching what effect the new code would have on our Neighborhood Plan, NCCDs, and LHD would be valuable to all of the central Austin neighborhoods.

We hope you plan to attend and to vote on the resolution.

Kevin & Lorre

Kid’s Corner: Summer Camp Fun!

Welcome to the Pecan Press Kid’s Corner, where you can find out about kid happenings in Hyde Park. Feel free to submit anything kid related, including event info, kids’ drawings, stories, comics, songs, poems, what have you! ppkidscorner@yahoo.com

Check out the cool camps offered around our neighborhood and keep a look out for summertime fun close to home like the Shipe Pool Opening Party and Movie Night, June 20th!

  • Griffin School, 5001 Evans – Rising 6th-9th graders can choose from music, radio, fashion, art, and writing camps.
  • Camp at the Elizabeth Ney Museum, 304 E. 44th Street, 512-458-2255 – “Visual Literacy: Storytelling through Art”.
  • Austin Junior Golf Academy, Hancock Golf Course, 811 E 41st Street – Ages 5-13 hit the links and celebrate the week with a hot dog and snow cone party.
  • Junior Tennis Summer Camp at Pharr Tennis Center, 4201 Brookview Road near Mueller – Ages 6-14 have fun on the courts.
  • GENaustin at Trinity United Methodist Church, 4001 Speedway– Girls grades 4-7 gain skills to navigate girlhood in a fun, interactive environment.
  • Austin Parks and Recreation at Hancock Recreation Center – Ages groups 5-9, 9-13, and 12–16 explore this year’s theme, “Keep Austin Weird”.
  • Creative Action at Trinity United Methodist Church, 4001 Speedway – Ages 5–9 enjoy amazingly imaginative camps all summer long.
  • Bits, Bites, and Bots at Trinity United Methodist Church, 4001 Speedway – Ages 8-14 have loads of technical fun.

 

Hyde Park Neighborhood Association Minutes – May 2015

Before the meeting was officially called to order, the neighborhood association held a potluck. The attendees brought dishes including salads, appetizers, and desserts for everyone to enjoy. Co-President Lorre Weidlich called the May meeting of the Hyde Park Neighborhood Association to order at 7:29 PM at the Griffin School.

The first item on the agenda was a presentation from Jeff Jack about CodeNext and other development-related initiatives at the city. Jeff is a member of the CodeNext Citizens Advisory Group. The Citizen’s Advisory Group has 11 members, one member selected by each Council Member of the previous City Council and four members by the city manager. It also has three working groups: Affordability; In-fill, Compatibility, and Missing Middle; and Small Business. Jeff talked about the origins of the current CodeNext process and its roots in the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan. An important upcoming part of the process is the evaluation of the effect of the new code on four neighborhoods within the city. Jeff accepted questions and comments from the floor throughout the presentation. (See related article, page 3).

The meeting moved to announcements. Lorre Weidlich announced that the Steering Committee would meet at 7 PM on May 11th at Trinity United Methodist Church. David Conner announced that the DRC would meet at 7 PM on Thursday. Adam Wilson announced that Shipe Pool is expected to reopen as planned but lifeguards are still needed to staff the city pools. Adrian Skinner announced that the Hyde Park Neighborhood Association has offered to support 2-3 individuals to become lifeguards for the City. Those interested should contact him. The City is also in the process of hiring someone to oversee the Shipe Pool restoration. Finally, it was announced that the vacant lots on Duval are going before the Historic Landmark Commission in the next couple of weeks.

Co-President Lorre Weidlich adjourned the meeting at 8:43 PM.

Hyde Park Contact Team Minutes – May 2015

The Hyde Park Neighborhood Contact Team regular meeting was called to order at 7:00 pm on May 27, 2015 at Trinity United Methodist Church by co-chairs Jennifer Berbas and Adrian Skinner.

The CT welcomed John Eastman, City of Austin Public Works Office, Sidewalks Department, to discuss the City’s 2009 Master Plan and future goals. According to the most recent survey of sidewalks, about half of Austin’s street frontage has a sidewalk. Mr. Eastman explained that there are no dedicated tax dollars applied to sidewalks, instead they rely upon bonds, grants, fees and builders to construct sidewalks. When there is money, they follow a set of priorities explained in the Master Plan and on the City Website Public Works page. Mr. Eastman reminded members to call 311 if there is a sidewalk issue, such as a needed repair, an obstruction, or the need to address a gap.

Mr. Eastman concluded by informing the CT that the City is getting ready to update 2009 Sidewalk Master Plan. He advised that neighbors take advantage of opportunities for public comment and communicate with elected officials that sidewalks are a priority and should be funded. He also asked that Neighborhood Plan requests should be kept up to date as they help set priorities. [CT Secretary’s note: Hyde Park is scheduled to review priorities in January, 2016.]

The meeting continued with a discussion of bylaws revisions led by bylaws sub-committee chair Reid Long. He presented an overview of changes under consideration and noted that most revisions reflect the need for updated or clarified language and do not change the substance of the bylaw. No votes were taken and discussion will continue at the July CT meeting. This summary lists sections in which substantive changes are proposed. The sub-committee has not yet addressed sections 12-17.

  • Section 3: Boundaries – Include the apartments on 51st behind Rowena.
  • Section 4: Membership – Request that a representative of any neighborhood association in Hyde Park be included, as long as the representative owns property or a business or rents property in the neighborhood.
  • Section 6: Voting – Clarify that elections are to be held every other year and add that voting discussions will be managed by parliamentary procedure (Robert’s Rules of Order).
  • Section 7: Meetings – Add language that allows additional meetings to be called by a majority of elected officers or seven voting members and add language to allow an agenda item to be added at the request of two or more CT members, during meeting or in writing to the listserv.

Discussion focused primarily on voting. Currently, in order to vote a member needs to have attended at least one meeting in the last nine months. The sub-committee asked for feedback on removing that requirement and allowing anyone who is qualified to vote. The discussion balanced the common concern that the CT should welcome the involvement of all neighbors with the concerns that those who vote be well-informed and that meetings are not stacked (as other CTs have experienced). A number of possible compromises were suggested that allow for a reasonable restriction that allows for more openness but prevents such abuse of the system as stacking meetings.

The bylaws committee continues to meet and discussion will continue at the July 27 meeting.

The meeting concluded with brief updates of old business items and general announcements:

  • Adrian Skinner and Jen Berbas have submitted a request to Kathy Tovo to submit the new FLUM map and are still waiting to hear back from her staff.
  • The CT heard a brief update of CodeNext planning.
  • The next City quarterly CT training meeting will be held May 20, 2015, from 7 to 8:30pm, at One Texas Center, 505 Barton Springs Road, in the 3rd floor training room. See http://austintexas.gov/department/neighborhood-plan-contact-teams.

The next quarterly meeting will be held Monday, July 27, at 7pm. All residents, renters or tenants, property owners, and business owners in Hyde Park are encouraged to become members of the CT and participate in discussions. An agenda will be posted two weeks before the meeting.

(A more complete set of minutes has been posted to the CT Yahoo page, . If you would like a copy, please email Mity Myhr, CT Secretary.)

Pecan Press – June 2015

PecanPress_June2015

Pecan Press – May 2015

PecanPress_May2015

Code Compliance Information

This information came from the program about Code Compliance put on by the city.

GENERAL INFORMATION FOR NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION MEETINGS (published April 6, 2015)

  1. PARKING: Street Parking complaints that deal with property ACCESS are reported to 3-1 -1. They will be transferred to APD Non-Emergency.
  2. PARKING: Junk Motor Vehicles or Vehicles Parked on Private Property should be reported to the VEHICLE ABATEMENT DEPARTMENT, which can be reached at: 512-974-8119.
  3. NOISE: Music – complaints about music, vehicles with loud music, etc, should be reported to 3-1 -1. They will be transferred to APD Non-Emergency.
  4. NOISE: Animals – barking dog complaints and roosters are now filed directly with Municipal Court. For additional information you may call: 512-974-4800.Code Compliance 3
  5. Garbage/Recycling Carts: Complaints about missed service should be called in to 3-1-1 AFTER 4pm, UNLESS the neighbors on YOUR side of the street have been collected. These calls are referred to Austin Resource Recovery (ARR).
  6. Garbage/Recycling Carts: Complaints about carts left out on the curb too long should be reported to 3-1-1. They will create a case for Austin Code.
  7. Overgrown Vegetation Obstructing a Sidewalk: These complaints should be reported to 3-1-1. A Service Request (SR) for Street and Bridge Right-of-Way (ROW) is then created.
  8. Overgrown Vegetation Obstructing a Bike Lane: These complaints should be reported to 3-1-1. If there is a HAZARD, APD will be notified and a ROW SR will be created.Code Compliance 4
  9. Overgrown Vegetation creating a BLIND CORNER: These complaints should be reported to 3-1 -1. A Blind Corner SR will be created.
  10. GRAFFITI: Most calls to report graffiti in the City of Austin are first reported to 3-1 -1. The call taker will then ask IF you want to report to APD. (APD likes to know where problems of graffiti are happening in case there are other issues going on too!) 3-1-1 creates the SR and it is transferred to Health and Human Services, Derrick McKnight, Program Manager, 512-854-4591. McKnight asks that when the HPNA Graffiti Abatement Committee goes out those 2-3 times a year to remove or cover graffiti, PLEASE keep track of the LOCATION, SQUARE FOOTAGE, RESIDENTIAL, COMMERCIAL, COA or PRIVATE PROPERTY. After completion, please call ALL addresses into 3-1-1 with this information. The Health and Human Services Department uses the 3-1-1 SR to track Graffiti Abatement. By using 3-1-1, this will also help eliminate duplicate calls for assistance. Feel free to contact Derrick McKnight if you have further questions.
  11. Building without a Permit (WWOP): There is no difference between new work and old work where WWOP is concerned. This category also includes permits that are in PENDING STATUS or those that have EXPIRED.Code Compliance 2
  12. PERMITS: Contact Number: 512-978-4000.
  13. CONTACT: To check for permits on line: austintexas.gov. Click on the DEVELOPMENT TAB. Click on PERMITS. Fill in the pertinent information to search permits for a particular address.

 

Fool’s Errand: A Rollo Treadway Retrospective

Park in Fact As Well As in Name?

Editor’s Note: Every April for 10 years, Hyde Parkers were amused or confused or sometimes totally fooled and outraged by articles published under the pseudonym of Rollo Treadway. We now know their author was in fact John Kerr, a longtime resident of Hyde Park who sadly passed away this past August.   His April pieces were such masterpieces that it just seemed right to give them a second life. The one below was first published in 2007, and reprinted here with minor modifications. Enjoy.

About a year and a half ago, at a monthly HPNA meeting, neighbor Sophie Forsythe proposed turning the stretch of Avenue G between Shipe Park and the Ney Museum into a public space.   With the approval of the general membership, a “Paseo Committee” was formed to explore various possibilities. After several encouraging meetings with public officials, the proposal was dropped when vocal opposition developed among some of the neighbors.

However, unknown to the neighborhood, the planning at the city’s Transportation and Land Use Department continued on.   The department’s initial recommendation, released in early March, goes far beyond the concept explored by the Paseo Committee and proposes to close all of the lettered north-south avenues in lower Hyde Park, routing vehicular traffic through substantially widened and improved alleys.

The idea is new but not unique. Three other small, upscale communities have undergone similar transformations: Carmel Palisades in California, Grosse Pointe Estates outside of Detroit, Michigan, and Turtle Cove in Dallas.   The overwhelmingly positive response of those communities, despite bitter initial opposition, convinced Austin officials to proceed with the project.

Heading the Transportation & Land Use planning team was Ed Reisenweber.   A graduate of Stanford’s regional planning program, Reisenweber said the idea was the brainstorm of Stanford’s legendary regional planner Akiro Tanaka, who came up with the idea after viewing the impressionistic 1982 environmental documentary, Koyaanisqatsi. “We all watched the film together,” said Reisenweber. “Tanaka was just blown away. He said he suddenly realized that automobiles and transportation corridors are utilities, just like sewer and water lines. They are absolutely essential, but social interaction and neighborhood aesthetics are best served by keeping them out of view.”

As currently envisioned, alleys would be widened 8 feet on either side and paved.   Those between Guadalupe and Avenue A, Avenues B and C, Speedway and Avenue F, and Avenues G and H would run one way north.   The other alleys would run one way south.   Speedway would remain open to two-way traffic as would all the numbered side streets.

“This is already going on in Austin on a smaller scale,” said Reisenweber. “Look at Central Market or Hancock Center. Imagine how messy it would be if all the trucks unloading merchandise for those stores parked in the regular parking lot. All we’re doing is taking that idea one step further.”

Under the new plan, all vehicular traffic, including UPS and FedEx deliveries, emergency services, and parking would be made through the alleys and the numbered side streets. The Avenues between 38th and 45th Streets would be closed to all except pedestrians and cyclists.

If approved by the neighbors, construction would begin shortly and be completed by the start of the HPNA Historic Homes Tour.   Costs would be shared between federal, state and local government agencies.   Hyde Park residents would be expected to provide between 2 and 5 percent of the costs, depending on negotiations still underway.

“This is major surgery,” Reisenweber said, “especially if you have to move or shorten your garage. I don’t want to underestimate either the challenges involved or the emotional gratification of the final result.”   That sentiment was shared by Richard Tumlinson of Turtle Cove in Dallas. Contacted by phone for this article, he agreed with Reisenweber’s assessment. “It was a royal pain in the keister, I guarantee you,” he said. “But then when it’s over, you look out your front door and ‘Voila!’, a Zen garden.”   He said all his neighbors were struck by the sense of calm that descended over a once busy street. Neighbors along his stretch of Lilac Lane pitched in to build a planter down the center of the street, planting it with plumbago, daffodils, and azaleas with a drought-tolerant miscanthus grass border.

The city is putting substantial resources into selling the concept, which it would like to replicate in several other Austin neighborhoods.   It is offering to send up to four tour buses to Dallas in early June to allow interested Hyde Parkers to see the Dallas project first hand and talk with the neighbors there.   Buses would leave from the Hyde Park Baptist Church parking lot at 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning and return by 6 p.m. that evening, with the city providing a box lunch.     At the May HPNA meeting, Reisenweber and his team will present the plan, answer questions, and sign up neighbors for the Dallas trip. A final vote is scheduled for the July meeting.

Reisenweber said the final outcome would make Hyde Park “a park in fact as well as in name,” but added he was anticipating opposition. “Anytime you try to take a forward step, there will always be a small but highly vocal clutch of mossbacks, naysayers, enviromaniacs and little old ladies in tennis shoes that comes out of the woodwork to fight you. I don’t expect this will be any different.”

 

 

 

 

Stealth Dorm Update

In February, 2014, Austin City Council adopted an occupancy ordinance that limits the number of unrelated individuals in duplexes and homes to four, down from six. The ordinance is limited to two years. As a part of the occupancy ordinance, the Austin Planning Commission was asked to study and make recommendations on code enforcement and violations.

At its February 15, 2015 meeting, the planning commission unanimously adopted recommendations on the occupancy limit ordinance to be sent to the new city council. The recommendations include:

1) newly permitted buildings with designs typical of over occupancy must agree to an inspection after one year (the inspection will ensure that buildings are in compliance with the occupancy limit ordinance);

2) grandfathered structures with repeat violations of the Property Maintenance Code will lose the status that allows them to house six unrelated individuals;

3) Code Compliance investigate housing for over occupancy if there are violations of the Property Maintenance Code;

4) Code Compliance establish a system of escalating fines for repeat offenders, and coordinate communication between departments in order to track violations;

5) City Council institute civil proceedings for code violations, rather than resolve violation complaints through criminal proceedings;

6) City Council extend the occupancy limit boundaries to neighborhoods outside the McMansion Ordinance boundaries (properties from Research Blvd to William Cannon Drive and from Loop 360 to Ed Bluestein Blvd).

In an effort to stop the misuses of single-family zoned property, the Planning Commission recommends creating a new zoning category called “multifamily lite” to encompass duplexes, fourplexes, and sixplexes.

The commission also recommends that council review the effectiveness of the ordinance and consider expanding it beyond the two-year limit. The new council has had one briefing on stealth dorms. They will discuss the issue in more detail in the newly formed special council committees.

–Mary Sanger

Hancock Neighborhood Association

 

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