Mueller Neighborhood Association General Meeting Minutes July 20, 2019

MNA Secretary Meeting/Meeting Minutes

9:45 – 10:05 Social   time with coffee and snacks. About 70 people were in attendance.

10:05 Welcome Visitors and New and Renewing Members,   John Wooding, co-chair

On Sunday July 28 from 10-12 at Zach Scott and Tom Miller, the City of Austin will host a celebration of the newly configured intersection bike lane, parking, and signage on Zach Scott between Airport Blvd and Berkman St, with refreshments, informational and educational sessions.

10:10  Treasurer’s Report, Dan Updegrove for Penny Brandt, Treasurer – see below

10:15 POA Review, Bill Berman

The transition committee met for the second time this week to continue working on goals and objectives to prepare for when the property owners (residential and commercial) take over the POA and related committees, likely in about 5 years. Today the board is majority controlled by Catellus. They’ll meet again next month and then go to quarterly meetings.  The Landscape Committee is rebidding the landscape maintenance and has narrowed it down to 5 bidders, including current landscaper Five Star Landscape, to respond to the RFP.  If you have feedback please let Patricia Thoms with Associa know.

Construction of 1.2 million square feet for Austin Energy and two other large office buildings is kicking off so there will be a lot of construction activity for a while.

Catellus believes the public areas of Mueller, like the prairie, fall under the new homeless ordinance that allows people to set up tents, etc. unless there is a safety or sanitary issue.

10:20 Mueller Commission, Michael Jones

There was no meeting in July per normal practice. Next meeting is August 16.  An unexpected vacancy on the commission was filled by Kathy Sokolic, a returnee, appointed by District One councilmember Natasha Harper-Madison.

10:20 4th of July Parade and Festival, Bill Kirwin  

An estimated 450 people attended.  Bill thanked all the volunteers who pitched in.  We are now looking for volunteers to lead the organization of the event in 2020, and Bill K and Bill B will provide all their documentation.  Activities included:

On the Walk

  • The Boss Street Brass Band
    • Kiddie Express Train
    • Travis County Sheriff’s Officers

 At the Park

Lady Quackenbush’s Bakery provided cookies and our sound system

The band and the train

Face painters and balloon artists

Bicycle   decorating:  0-5  and  6-12

Amy’s Ice Cream provided ice cream

Pecan Street Presentation, Grant Fisher

Pecan Street is a nonprofit research and development organization at the corner of Antone and Berkman across from the tower.  Pecan Street’s mission is “to accelerate the transition to clean energy and integrated water management through the development and adoption of innovative technology and policy.”  Founded a decade ago, the moved their test laboratory Mueller about seven years ago.  They did a study with the electric vehicles and are awaiting the federal government’s decision on the project going forward. 

Pecan Street has 1100 residential and 100 commercial participants in its test beds as well as Boulder, Ithaca, NY, San Diego and the San Francisco Bay Area. 40% of emissions come from residential so there are a lot of improvements to be made.  They matched federal and Austin Energy rebates for Chevy Volts and solar, respectively.  They release their data for public and academic study.

They want to launch a demonstration project on Autonomous Vehicles (self-driving electric vehicles) that made fixed route loops in Mueller. Public and private entities are all researching this area.  The goal is to showcase the technology and find out what works and what doesn’t. 

Limitations include finding covered parking for vehicles that are over 10’ tall.  The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (a division of the Department of Transportation) made many stipulations that limit what routes are feasible to set up ongoing routes, so negotiations are ongoing.  The vehicle has been used in hundreds of deployments across the U.S. but there are still regulations that impact routes. We are hopeful to have routes approved and deployed soon.

Coming in the near future:

  • Demand response study in Mueller – homeowners are sought to join a project wherein Pecan Power can modulate water or electricity demand when the grid is overloaded. Email [email protected] if you’re interested in participating
  • Additional solar study
  • Results of the battery study – analyzing more cost-effective ways for solar-equipped homes to store their own energy

10:35 Announcements

MNA t-shirts in men’s, women’s and children’s sizes and cuts are available for $15 each.

Report playground safety concerns to to Patti Thoms, the community manager.

10:40 Richard Carr, Steering Committee Vice Chair, Climate Change Subcommittee chair

In response to the presentation at last month’s general meeting by a representative of the Windsor Park Neighborhood Association (WPNA), the MNA Steering Committee has formed a Climate Change Subcommittee, which Steering Committee Vice Chair Richard Carr has agreed to chair. This Subcommittee will consider the recommendation of the WPNA to join them in developing a climate change resolution for presentation to public officials as well as a set of concrete actions the Mueller community members could undertake to protect the environment. Residents interested in climate change policy and action are invited to contact Richard via [email protected]. The goals as drafted are to:

  • Urge residents of Mueller take individual actions to reduce global warming (for details on how, see information from Taylor Youngblood, our Zero Waste Initiative liaison to the City, and she posts tips to the MNA page, the Front Page Flyer, Next Door and on her blog at ALittleMore.Green and also is our Block Captain Chair).
  • Promote climate change mitigation efforts by highlighting climate actions of neighbor and local business, starting with a series of articles in the Front Porch Flyer.
  • Implement zero waste guidelines for all of our signature events.
  • Invite all neighborhood stakeholders to develop community initiatives to reduce global warming.

10:45 Smart Trips Presentation, Ashley Greenstein, Senior Planner in the City of Austin transportation department. Smart Trips Austin is a program in partnership with Capital Metro.  Mueller has a plethora of transportation options, and Smart Trip seeks to manage congestion by encouraging residents to explore the city in ways other than their own cars, hoping to reduce single-occupant trips by 5-10%.  Increasing alternate transportation trips by 5-10% can be achieved if people will more frequently use transit, bicycles, trikes, scooters, walking, carpooling and rideshares.  A brochure was sent via mail to Mueller residents to encourage them to sign up for the program, beginning with a brief survey about your own commuting patterns.  They repeat the survey post program. The program also including transportation toolkits, local ambassadors and customized events.   The events are a fun low-risk way to try new modes of transit. Last night they organized a bike ride from the spider sculpture to explore the new East Side trail.

The program leverages a financial and programmatic partnership with Capital Metro while building local capacity for participating communities to create similar health and education campaigns in the future. It’s a community-based program.

Results now in the 5th year are ramping up.  They have brought on nonprofit programs and set up data monitoring and tracking to have quantifiable measures of impact. Participants are enthusiastic. In the South Central Austin rollout two years ago, 1005 participants took part in 22 walks, bike ride and transit adventures.  There was a 2% overall increase in transit used, from 17% to 19%.  75% felt more aware of transportation options and drive-alone trips decreased 3.7%.  Last year in Central East Austin, 637 participants went to 34 events. 52% of respondents increased alternative modes of walking, biking and transit. 99% of residents reported value in continuing programs like Smart Trips Austin. They distribute maps of safe bicycle routes that include Mueller.  Existing cyclists found even better routes, and new cyclists were encouraged to use bikes more. 

This year the program, which launched late Spring 2019, focuses on all of East Austin north of the river covering 24,000 households, which launched late spring 2019.  They’ve recruited Spanish-speaking ambassadors and created a Spanish-language toolkit. They are increasing focus on distributing E-Toolkits and have extended the program duration from 3 to 6 months. They plan stage-specific emails, action planning and route planning.  The program is informed by behavioral change science, removing all barriers to participate and take action, including by providing action planning and route planning. Ambassadors will coach you by text, phone or in person to help you plan a route to where you want to go.  Contact Joan Quenan if you want to set up an activity at Wildflower Terrace and Dave Neider for a Mueller event.  Lonnie Sterns is Ashley’s counterpart at Capital Metro and can organize adventures to any part of the city anytime, while Smart Trips is focused on programs within the East Austin program area.  Elizabeth Stehl is the Cap Metro liaison for Wildflower. Seniors 65 and over can register for a reduced fee card that gives them 24 hours of rides for $1.25 or $.60 for a one-time ride.

11:10 Adjourn


Prepared by Dr. Penny Brandt, Treasurer

Frost Accounts

  • Total Balance: $18,065.66
  • Checking Account: $13,057.77
    • Beginning Balance: $14,009.56
    • Total Revenues: $265.42
      • Combination of Membership Dues and Sponsorships
    • Total Expenses: $1,217.22
  • Savings Account: $5,007.89 (no change)

Respectfully submitted,

Alison Raffalovich, Secretary, August 6, 2019