October 2011 Invasives Removal — a lot of Work!

The BCNA Parks Committee  held another successful invasive species removal day on Saturday, Oct 15.
The event brought in 40+ volunteers – including students form the Liberal Arts and Science Academy LASA) high school and from ACC’s  Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society –  who helped remove ligustrum and chinaberries from the West Bouldin Creek Greenbelt.
We received a last minute advisory from the Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) that we can no longer build windrows with the cut-down brush, due to the fire hazard these rows might cause.  As a result of this, we diverted a good third of our work crew to hauling the brush from our two work areas to the entrance at South 6th Street, where the Forestry department can collect it. It was a quarter of a mile trip each way and included  crossing the creek. Many volunteers commented that they did not need to go to the gym that week-end – they had had already had their work out.
Despite the aerobic benefits, because of this change in procedure, it is clear that this amount of effort is unsustainable and we will work with PARD to find a better solution.
At this point, we have made one complete sweep from the South 6th Street entrance to the most southern point of the greenbelt; we have about 3-4 work days left at the northern end, once the brush question has been resolved.
Now that the weather is moderating, please take some time to walk along the greenbelt trail and notice some of the new native vegetation that is popping up in the cleared areas.
Ingrid Weigand
BCNA Parks Committee Chair
(with some editorializing by Rob Clayton)

Judge sides with South Congress Cafe on illegal deck

SoCo Cafe DeckThe Statesman has published this article on the latest decision regarding the least-used deck in the city, but we’re leaving the comments section open.

“Trudy’s argued that the city sometimes allows landowners who have built improvements without the required approvals and permits to obtain them retroactively, and that it entered into what amounted to a legal obligation allowing Trudy’s to do so. Cafe owners contended that the city illegally reversed itself after hearing from angry neighborhood residents.”

Neighbors, tell us how you really feel.

City Executes Railroad Quiet Zone Agreement with Union Pacific Railroad

The City of Austin Transportation Department recently executed the first of
two formal agreements with Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) July 26, 2011 with
the intent of establishing quiet zones at the following crossings:****

· UPRR Crossing at Matthews Lane ****

· UPRR Crossing at W. Stassney Lane ****

· UPRR Crossing at Banister Lane ****

· UPRR Crossing at W. Oltorf Street ****

· UPRR Crossing at W. Mary Street ****

This first agreement allows UPRR to determine what safety equipment changes
are necessary at these crossings to comply with the Federal Railroad
Administration (FRA) requirements for a quiet zone. This includes the
preparation of the design and cost estimate to install new equipment or
modify the existing equipment. Once the City receives the cost estimate from
UPRR, anticipated in early January 2012, a second agreement will be executed
to construct all needed modifications.****

****

In February, with the addition of medians near the crossing, a quiet zone
was established at Duval Road. Medians have also been constructed or
modified at W. Stassney and Banister lanes, and W. Mary Street in
preparation for quiet zones, however additional modifications to be
identified through this agreement will be needed prior to establishing quiet
zones at those locations.****

Currently, FRA requires train engineers to sound train horns when
approaching a public highway railroad crossing. A quiet zone will allow
trains to pass through the railroad crossing without sounding their horns,
except in emergencies, and will result in less train noise for surrounding
residents. ****

In the meantime, it is important to note that while the City is working to
reduce the disruption to residents from train horns, train engineers are
still authorized to sound the train horn as they approach and enter rail
crossings.