President Marnie Fitzgerald opened the meeting thanking Mayor Mike Dyson, Amber Lewis and the city staff for letting us use City Hall for our meeting. She also thanked Tracy Steingold for bringing drinks and snacks. Marnie introduced a special guest of Mayor Dyson’s tonight: Lance Thompson from Tiny Boxwoods and Milk and Cookies.
New member, Carol Whitman, introduced herself.
Marnie continued announcing there is a sign-in sheet circulating that lists all paid members as of Jan 15th. If you think you have paid, but you do not see the notation on the sheet, please see Christina Lobes, Membership Chair. She reminded everyone to please pay your $20 dues. Our initial goal for this season was 150 paid members - we are at 121 members. Your dues help pay for events like the Annual Holiday party, the Egg-stravaganza hunt, the 4th of July events, and regular meetings. You can pay online, or with cash or check at any of our meetings.
Meeting minutes can be found on our website/blog. There are copies of October and November meeting minutes for you to review. Catherine Scott made a motion to approve the minutes. Kelly Dixon seconded. The motion passed.
We then continued with the Treasurer report from Jessica Garcia. Our current balance is: $28,091.53.
Spent to date: $3,864 for Wine & Cheese, meetings, Holiday Party, staff gifts, website
Income to date: $2,360 from membership dues
· Jackie Bob was very thankful for the retirement gift card he received.
· We gifted the Rollingwood staff and police department with holiday gift baskets.
· We are sad to share that Doris Day Swaner passed away at 91. She was a RWC member for 55 years.
The Egg-stravaganza will be Saturday, April 11th at 9am sharp. We are still planning to have the 4th of July Parade on July 4th followed by a party in the park. Macey Delcambre is managing both of these events and needs some help. Sign-up sheets were passed around to gauge interest.
We do not have a Chair for the 5k or a Chair for Fundraising. We need to fill both positions. Fundraising is not as difficult as it sounds. We have records and request forms from past years. It is a matter of making calls, emails, tracking payments and checks, collecting logos and following up with thank-yous. The 5k event takes a team of volunteers to produce plus one or two members to manage the entire event. If no-one signs up for this, we won’t have the 5k. Liz Busch has great notes and plans from previous years which will be very easy to follow.
Kelly Dixon shared that she has a garage full of very lovely furniture if anyone is looking to buy, please contact her.
We then shifted to discuss the item up for voting.
From our budget, we have $11,376 available to gift back to the city. There will be a request from Becky Combs in February for the Community Garden. Roughly $4K for plants, an education class, mulcher, etc. More details in February. Christina Lobes is researching ideas for planting more trees in our neighborhood and park. She will provide more information as it becomes available.
The item up for voting is a new kiosk at the upper park with a sign holder and map.
The item was requested by Catherine Horne and Laurie Mills from the Park Commission. The suggested proposal was presented at the January 14th Park Commission meeting and was approved by those present. Amber confirmed that it would not need to go to City Council for approval. The proposal is for duplicating a kiosk in the upper park similar to the current one in the lower park. It would be close to the bike rack near the entrance to the park. It would have changeable bulletins on one side and map on the other side with a “welcome” message. Matt Shoberg of Shoberg Homes gave us a generous discount on the construction bid. Additional details were provided in a PowerPoint presentation at the meeting. Highlights:
· Overall size = 8' x 3.5' x 10' in a U shape to accommodate 2 garbage or recycling cans
· Roof is metal, overhang is approx. 60" from center
· Posts are 6" square cedar
· Base is stone with a flat stone at 30" up from the ground
· Custom steel-tubing holding a store-bought sign holder 62" x 36"
· The second side of sign holder is a large “Welcome” and map of the park.
Estimated cost: $8,539
Shanti Jayakumar made a motion to pass the kiosk proposal. Amy Rung seconded the motion.
- How does it fit within the Park Master Plan? It does not affect the Master Plan.
- Discussion about removing the trash cans to cut down on the cost and possibly turning it into a bench.
- A member suggested getting a second bid. We did have a second bid, but the one presented is the best bid. The other bid did not donate any costs.
- Discussion about if anyone can haul the stone and wood to the site to cut down on the delivery charge?
- Discussion about making the footprint smaller so we do not have to relocate bike rack.
There was a motion to amend the amount not to exceed $7k and determine what costs can be reduced by eliminating the trash cans, possibly replacing them with a bench or nothing if the bench is cost prohibitive. Maria Abernathy seconded the amendment to the motion.
There was more discussion about the amendment. We then voted on the amendment. It passed.
We then voted on the amended motion. The motion passed for the kiosk in the upper playground not to exceed $7k.
This concluded the business portion of the meeting.
Marnie then introduced Rollingwood Mayor Mike Dyson who shared a State of the City. The main points are summarized below.
STATE OF THE CITY
2019 Successes & Progress
- Introduced the Rollingwood logo and brand establishing us with own identity, not part of WLH, not a neighborhood in Austin
- Rolled out improved community communications initiative: new website, Swift 911 alert system, social media, video and live broadcast of all Council and Board/Commission Meetings. These steps really helped with hiring. Some of the candidates went back and viewed broadcasts of council meetings to see what kind of community we are.
- New faces provide for a complete management team with unimpeachable resumes
- Jason Brady, Police Chief (+ new officers)
- Ashley Wayman, City Secretary
- David Brasch, Public Works Director
- Firm of Denton Navarro as new City Attorney
- New tree ordinance passed
- Emphasis on closing code loopholes and cleaning up conflicting ordinances. Trying to be agnostic and impartial.
- There was general discussion about public hearings and City Council meetings. Mayor Dyson mentioned they’d been very diligent about including public hearings, but they are not always well attended. City Council really appreciates feedback. They don’t like making decisions in a bubble. Please call or email Council if you cannot make it to the public hearing. As an individual in a small community you can walk in and make a change.
A member asked: What do you and city council members do with comments that are made at council meetings?
Council takes the comments under advisement, “that’s what we are here to do.” They try to limit comments to 3 minutes to respect everyone’s time. If there is more to be said, please give the Mayor a call. If you email a council member, it becomes public record. The Council Members try to be responsive, but remember they are all volunteers.
- Ensuring a modern approach to city code and contracts
- Revamping of our permitting process
- Refunded municipal debt providing for ~$2.7MM in cashflow savings
- Completed drainage portion of the Infrastructure Improvement Plan (IIP)
We’ve crested a hill and are seeing some challenges.
- Infrastructure continues to age without improvement plan or funding plan adopted to address (have water pipes in ground from 1950s). We need to have a comprehensive plan and maintenance. We really need public feedback on this area, drainage specifically.
- Affordability: 20% of population is on fixed income and susceptible to increased cost of living.
The folks that helped build this community that we want to be a part of may be priced out. We need to diversify revenue streams.
- 20% of City revenues stem from sales taxes, while 80% come from ad valorem (property) taxes
For comparison: Westlake Hills is 70:30 sales tax to ad valorem; Sunset Valley is 100% sales tax. Rollingwood is 8/10ths of a square mile and there is $1.06 billion of appraised value in RW.
There was discussion about the commercial corridor. The city is considering a change to zoning in the Commercial Corridor. Our zoning is kind of a hodge-podge/mismatch. It is under discussion in the Planning & Zoning Commission. Any changes will go through public hearings and City Council. Retail Coach was hired by RCDC to help determine how we start balancing those scales between sales and property tax. RCDC is charged with economic development. How do we improve commerce in RW? You can go on the city website and see all of Retail Coach’s analysis on the RW Commercial Corridor.
Mayor Dyson shared some of the information from Retail Coach’s analysis. Estimate on the low side: 8,600 unique visitors to RW park in the last year made at least 34k visits to the park and stayed for 102 minutes. All of this is based on cell phone data. A lot of these people head to eat before or after – we would like to get these people eating in RW. We have 1,800 people who live in our community paying taxes. 525 homes in RW. Our community is not big enough to support a restaurant, but all the people visiting and passing through are enough. The biggest challenge in the retail space is parking plus city ordinances that are conflicting. Retailers want signage on the road. Perhaps we make changes to allow signage on the street or move shops closer to Bee Cave Road. 29,000 people daily touch the boundaries of RW. Our small community can’t support a level of retail but if can “fish” in some of the passer-thrus, it can really help. Sway is “guinea pig”. Trying to get Bee Caves Rd out of the “commuter” mindset.
Mayor Dyson finished his update and then introduced Lance Thompson, CO-founder of Tiny Boxwoods, Milk & Cookies, and Hanson + Thompson. Lance shared his story of how he went from running a landscaping business to building a landscape architect firm and developing an old school retail garden shop. They noticed people really liked being in the space and would walk around and find spaces to hang out and eat their sack lunches. Thus, they added a restaurant that became Tiny Boxwoods in Houston in a great neighborhood. It’s a great space where people want to come to and hang out. They also created a walk-up place called Milk & Cookies which offers: coffee, ice cream, cookies. The concept was built around Lance’s favorite chocolate chip cookie. They like to build spaces that people like to be in. They found a great spot in Austin at Kerbey Lane Village on 38th St. near Brykerwoods Elementary. They put in a Tiny Boxwoods, then added a Milk & Cookies location. Their concepts are a lost breed. We don’t have these neighborhood places to go to anymore that you can just walk to and that are safe.
There was general discussion about possibly bringing this concept to the heart of RW park. Milk & Cookies is 600 sq ft. A member asked what currently happens at our Concession Stand? It’s primarily volunteer based, so it doesn’t get staffed often. It’s a nice building with historic value, but it’s not being used to its best ability. A few of the Parks Commissions liasons have met with Lance to understand his concept. Mayor Dyson mentioned he’s trying to share different ideas that are talked about instead of just discussing at City Council meetings.
The discussion then turned to asking how our group can be more involved in this conversation? We can’t always come to council meetings.
If there is going to be a big discussion, how can you let us know when those discussions are happening?
Please send comments to city council’s “official” email addresses, not to their personal accounts. Their email addresses are: first initial last name @rollingwood.tx.gov. You can also find them on the city website. If you send an email to the entire council, sometimes Amber or Mike will respond to avoid quorum issues.
There was general discussion about if someone from council can come to RWC meetings with highlights or connect with RWC to give us heads up about big topics at upcoming City Council meetings. Amy Patillo will discuss with Amber and will get back to Marnie with ideas for how to accomplish this request.