Potluck for friends and allies, party, silent auction, 6:30p on Dec 14, 2019

Friends and Allies Potluck + Holiday Party + Silent Auction
Saturday, December 14, 2019, 6:30pm-10pm
at the Radiance Dome
108 Royal Way, Austin TX 78737

Here at Friendship Alliance, we have a lot to be thankful for and we want to celebrate the end of another busy year with you. Please join us/ Invite your friends, your neighbors, we’d like to see all of you there!

Event Details

  • This is a family-friendly, kid-friendly Community Potluck. To ensure we have enough food and drink for everyone, please bring food and/or beverages to share. Can’t bring anything? Please come anyway!
  • Please: no alcoholic beverages.
  • Consider bringing your own cup/plate as part of our zero waste goal.
  • Parking is limited. We encourage carpooling.
  • Please bring one non-perishable food item for our annual holiday party food drive – all donations go to Hays County Food Bank, in the news here.
  • $10 suggested donation at the door. No one turned away for lack of funds. Can’t make it? Consider a year-end gift via our secure donation page on Network for Good.
  • Please RSVP as soon as possible. RSVPs are accepted by clicking the RSVP link below to our Eventbrite page and clicking that big green button there that says “Register” … or by emailing secretary@FriendshipAlliance.org.
Click on the RSVP to let us know you are coming –>        RSVP

Silent Auction items so far…

    • vintage Yamaha FG-180 red label acoustic guitar with guitar case
    • Norwegian modern leather and wood recliner (excellent condition)
    • Concept 2 rowing machine
    • professional photography portraiture package
    • massage therapy session, with RMT with 40 years experience
    • consultation with a registered dietician
    • consultation with Texas Certified Landscape Professional and organic gardening expert
    • native plant ID walk-and-talk
    • cold-tolerant Changsha tangerine tree
    • “Austin” pomegranate tree (related to “Wonderful” pomegranate, but adapted to our area)
    • Western Soapberry tree  (Texas native)
    • fruit tree pruning/planting class, with advice on fruit trees that work in our area, including the true name of a peach tree that can freeze solid in full blossom and still bear peaches the same year
    • one-hour beekeeping workshop, with the opportunity to view living beehive
    • worm composting (vermiculture) workshop
    • gluten-free, fresh spring roll tutorial in your home: dinner for 4 people
    • pet-sitting services for a two-day weekend
    • house-sitting services for a two-day weekend

    … and this list is growing. We’ll try to update it as often as possible. Please keep checking back.

    Please let us know if you have some thing or service you would like to offer as an auction item. All auction proceeds will go to funding FA’s operating expenses and programs. Friendship Alliance is a 100%-volunteer organization. FA board members and volunteers donate their time, talent and energy uncompensated, for the good of our community.

FA signs Save Barton Creek Association’s letter to TxDOT re: Oak Hill Parkway

DRAFT
6/27/19

To:
Mr. James Bass, TxDOT Executive Director
Mr. Tucker Furguson, Austin District Engineer

cc:
Al Alonzi, Hazem Isawi, and Glenn Harris, FHWA

Mr. Bass and Mr. Furguson,

We, the undersigned community organizations encourage you to revisit TxDOT’s current plan for the highway expansion at US 290 and SH 71, known as the “Oak Hill Parkway,” in order to meet the goals stated below.

Through the many years this project has been considered, our community’s often-stated preference for an at-grade parkway has been consistently ignored. There are now multiple problems with the project and with TxDOT’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) (see attached letter, Appel 2019).

TxDOT Austin District staff has and continues to actively make changes to the project, despite the fact that the FEIS and Record of Decision were issued in December 2018. These changes include: alterations to number of lanes (upon the presumption that an un-tolled road will have less traffic on access lanes), flood risk modeling and subsequent design changes, and changes to the shared use path. These are all items that should be included within the EIS process. They illustrate that the FEIS did not fully consider these items and was incomplete. The community did not have the opportunity to comment on these very significant changes. We still have not seen the new flood model and any resulting design changes. Yet, TxDOT continues to insist that it expects to put out a final Request for Proposals (RFP) in July.

It is time to correct errors made in this process and reconsider the true purpose and need for the project, as well as the community’s concerns and preferences.

The community put forth a viable alternative vision, the Livable Oak Hill plan, which is an at-grade, true parkway. We now urge TxDOT to genuinely explore a design consistent with the context and the community’s vision, while working with the stakeholders to address our valid concerns regarding environmental degradation, community cohesion, flooding and safety, and construction-related delays. Every possible opportunity to avoid excavation and elevation, particularly on the main lanes, should be explored and implemented if possible. The project as currently planned poses significant risks to the Oak Hill community, the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer, Williamson Creek, and heritage trees.

This is an opportunity to present an improved, community-supported project that provides a similar level of congestion reduction, while being less costly and destructive. Notably, this would make more money available for other regional priorities. By avoiding construction of unnecessary elevated and excavated segments, the project would logically take less time to build, reducing constructed-related delays and impacts from reduced accessibility to area businesses. It would also reduce the likelihood of delays during construction by minimizing the risk of encountering voids and other karst features that characterize the geology of the project area. A smaller project footprint could also help TxDOT achieve the net reduction in total suspended solids that is integral to TxDOT’s compliance with the Endangered Species Act for this project.

A new plan could also align with the community’s vision – including those articulated in the Oak Hill Association of Neighborhoods (OHAN’s) Priorities document, the Oak Hill Combined Neighborhood Plan, adopted in 2008, and the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan of 2010, which endorse future mixed-use, transit and pedestrian friendly “Town Center” at the Y. The Oak Hill Neighborhood plan’s adoption was a result of a long community input process initiated by the City of Austin, and the plan’s approval was widely supported by community members and leaders throughout East and West Oak Hill and southwest Austin.

We strongly encourage TxDOT to act now to work with community groups before a final Request for Proposals is issued for the project.

We support a plan for the Oak Hill Parkway project area that:

1) Constructs a grade-level freeway. We understand that there may be a need for cross streets to be raised. One possible at-grade-level concept is the “Livable Oak Hill” plan.

2) Minimizes both excavated and elevated highway main lane sections.

3) “Right-sizes” the number of lanes, using projections based on actual traffic counts.

4) Avoids destruction of heritage trees

5) Protects Williamson Creek and the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer by minimizing encroachment on the creek, minimizing impervious cover, treating all stormwater run-off from the site, and complying with the City of Austin’s non-degradation standard set out in the Save Our Springs Ordinance.

6) Improves neighborhood connectivity and community amenities that support future development of a new town center.

7) Focuses on safety of drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists.

8) Immediately adds new safety improvements between Oak Hill and Dripping Springs, including: making speed limits uniformly lower between the Y and Dripping Springs, synchronizing traffic lights, adding safer left-turn lane configurations, and erecting center barriers to prevent deadly head-on collisions.

9) Is consistent with City of Austin plans and policies, including Vision Zero (to reduce traffic deaths); Austin Strategic Mobility Master Plan; the Oak Hill Neighborhood Plan; and the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan.

10) Respects property-owners’ rights, with fair compensation for all impacts.

11) Recognizes this as a severely flood prone area, and minimizes construction in the flood zone.

12) Is financially responsible.

Sincerely,

Angela Richter, Executive Director
Save Barton Creek Association

Steve Barnick, President
Friends of Barton Springs Pool

David Foster, State Director
Clean Water Action

Alan Watts
Save Oak Hill

Cindy Dietz, President
South Windmill Run Neighborhood Association

Tony Catania, President
Scenic Brook Neighborhood Association

Carlos Torres-Verdin, President
Friendship Alliance

___________

See also:

See a fish or wildlife kill? Suspect a pollution event? Call Texas Parks & Wildlife Kills and Spills Team

https://tpwd.texas.gov/landwater/water/environconcerns/kills_and_spills/index.phtml

Kills and Spills Team

If you see a fish or wildlife kill or suspect a pollution event:

Call (512) 389-4848 or contact your regional Kills and Spills Team biologist.

Prompt notification is key to a successful investigation. The sooner we arrive, the better the chances that our biologists will be able to collect useful evidence.

What does KAST do?

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Kills and Spills Team (KAST) is a group of biologists who investigate fish and wildlife kills resulting from pollution and natural events. KAST staff are trained to assess impacts to fish and wildlife resources and to determine the causes of events.

Reporting a Kill or Spill

If possible, make a note of the following:

  • Location, date and time
  • Water color, clarity and any odor
  • Number, size and species of affected organisms
  • Recent weather
  • Condition and behavior of animals or organisms
  • Are plants or other organisms affected?

 

Living near a creek affected by the “White Water Event” on May 14, 2019? Please read

Dear neighbors of northern Hays County,

If you live, work, own property along a creek that may have been affected by the “white water event” of May 14, 2019, and believe you/your property may be affected by this event, and if you have taken pictures of the water in your section of the affected creek, of dead animals, plants, or insects in the water, and/or how the water has affected your well or your property, please email those pictures to:

james.slone@tceq.texas.gov

with your address, phone number, location of the photo(s) taken, date of photo(s) taken, and your concerns.

Thank you in advance,

Friendship Alliance

 

Petition: Designate Texas Ranch-to-Market Roads 1826, 150 and 967 “Scenic Highways”

Here’s what our petition says:

From the wildflowers that Lady Bird Johnson adored, to the dramatic rise and fall of tree-covered limestone hills in the Texas Hill Country, our country roads are a treasure. Texas Ranch to Market Roads 1826, 150 and 967 reward travelers with natural vistas, cool clear creeks, and wide open skies filled with stars, sunrises, and sunsets every day.

We the undersigned want to keep the Texas Hill Country SCENIC.

Central Texas is experiencing explosive growth. Data from The U.S. Census Bureau shows Hays County is the 4th fastest-growing county in the United States (see https://communityimpact.com/austin/san-marcos-buda-kyle/city-county/2018/03/22/hays-county-ranked-4th-fastest-growing-county-country/ ).

The increase in the number of motorists along our Ranch to Market roads has triggered a proliferation of billboards on our roads. Billboards are not mere eyesores: their lighting endangers human health and pollutes the night skies that are iconic to this region of Texas.

Further, healthy Texans are productive Texans. We need our nighttime dark. Light pollution has a direct negative bearing on human health and circadian rhythms:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2627884/

Artificial lights at night don’t just affect people. Wildlife is also affected negatively, with impacts on migration and reproduction:
http://www.nrcresearchpress.com/doi/full/10.1139/er-2014-0005#.XFxfwdFJnwc

Last but not least, billboards may have a negative impact on property values of nearby homes and neighborhoods.

For these reasons, we ask the Texas Legislature to acknowledge the value of these roads we love by designating Texas Ranch to Market Roads 1826, 150 and 967 as “Scenic Highways” in Hays County.

We ask the 86th Legislature to help preserve the scenic beauty and character of Ranch to Market Roads 1826, 150 and 967 by supporting legislation that keeps the beauty of the Texas Hill Country intact.

The stars at night are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas.
May they be so, forever.

If you agree, please sign our petition here:

https://www.change.org/p/texas-house-representative-erin-zwiener-district-45-designate-texas-ranch-to-market-roads-1826-150-and-967-scenic-highways

Contested Case Hearing Starts Monday, August 20, 2018: SOS Alliance Opposes City of Dripping Springs’ Wastewater Discharge to Onion Creek

Signal boost: Initial hearing is now upon us.
Members of the public are welcome to attend.

9am, Monday, August 20, 2018 in the State Office of Administrative Hearings
300 W 15th Street (the William Clements State Office Building, northwest corner of 15th and Guadalupe)
4th floor
Austin, TX 78701

There’s a bulletin board near the elevators that gives the exact a hearing room.

The backstory from  https://www.sosalliance.org/latest-news/992-dripping-springs-permit-referred-to-contested-case-hearing.html

A state administrative law judge will hear arguments for and against the proposed sewage permit, and issue a recommendation to the TCEQ commissioners, who will make the decision on whether to grant the permit and if so, the permit’s terms. The hearing process is to be completed within six months of the initial hearing.

Environmental groups, well users, and downstream property owners have many concerns about the plan, including pollution of groundwater that would adversely affect drinking water, recreation, and habitat for aquatic species. Earlier this year, a dye trace study revealed that Onion Creek supplies water to domestic wells in the Dripping Springs area, and a report was recently published documenting the presence of Barton Springs Salamanders in Onion Creek.

To show your support for a ban on discharging wastewater into creeks that recharge Barton Springs, sign the petition at nodrippingsewage.org.

 

 

 

New board members for Friendship Alliance in 2017

A mighty big thanks to the men and women who have served on the board previously! Rob Baxter, thank you. Brian Dudley, thank you too.

For continuing to serve, we thank now our current at-large Board members: Dixie Camp and Neil Carman.

Welcome back to Jonathan Steinberg, one of the original board members of Friendship Alliance. He is back for more! He is our institutional memory in addition to being our third at-large Board member now.

We are pleased to announce these officers added to Friendship Alliance Executive Committee: Carlos Torres-Verdin as President, Terry Shaw as Vice President, and Jeanine Christensen as Secretary.