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Neighbors say no way to Cap Metro hopes for park-and-ride in East Austin

Tuesday, June 13, 2000 by

Conflicts with East Cesar Chavez Neighborhood Plan

East Austin neighborhood leaders have watched for years as their part of town became the site of numerous undesirable uses. Now neighborhood leaders believe East Austin is once again slated to become the home of an undesirable use, namely a new park-and-ride location. Lori C-Renteria, who spearheaded the East Cesar Chavez Neighborhood Plan, said that the neighborhood has already voted to oppose the location of a park-and-ride operation at the East Rail Yard between 4th and 5th street at Waller.

Jose Quintero, president of the Greater East Austin Neighborhood Association, and Gavino Fernandez of El Concilio are concerned that the staff of Capital Metro has already selected the East Rail Yard. The site would service from 250 to 500 park-and-ride customers being displaced from the Palmer Auditorium location, which is set for demolition during the first week of July.

Capital Metro Planning Director Robert Smith says, "Capital Metro prefers a location south of Town Lake to service the needs of South Austin." Smith said Capital Metro wants a location that's already being utilized for parking. "Furthermore, no decision has been made on the East Rail Yard location or any of the other 50-plus sites under consideration," he said.

According to Council Member Beverly Griffith, approximately 2,000 parking spaces are being displaced at Palmer Auditorium to make room for "what will be one of the greatest parks in North America." Griffith also sits on the Capital Metro board of directors. When informed about the concerns of Quintero and Fernandez, Griffith responded that she had asked the Capital Metro staff not to make any sudden moves without first consulting the neighborhood advocates. Griffith said, "The City needs to disperse the 2,000 displaced spaces into multiple sites, scattered around the city."

Renteria said that six months ago, Capital Metro staff asked for two East Cesar Chavez Leadership Team members to sit on an advisory board that would make recommendations for the East Rail Yard site. "To date no one has been called," said Renteria. The neighborhood plan–the third neighborhood plan to be approved by City Council–calls for mixed use for the 11-acre East Rail Yard, which is owned by Capital Metro. The neighborhood is scheduled to go before the before Planning Commission on June 20 with a request to rezone the land within the neighborhood planning area–which is bounded by I-35, the alley between 6th and 7th streets, Town Lake, and Chicon—from LI (limited industrial services) to CS-MU (commercial services-mixed use).

Senior Planner Gina Copic of the Planning, Environmental and Conservation Services Department, lead staff planner for the East Cesar Chavez Neighborhood Plan, said the team is in the process of drafting a "positive" letter to the Capital Metro staff to remind them of the neighborhood plan, its contents and the Neighborhood Planning Team's position on this proposed parking lot.

When Capital Metro Board Member John Treviño was told that Renteria, Quintero and Fernandez are concerned that Capital Metro staff may be favoring the East Rail Yard location, he said, "That location is not acceptable to me."

Three new council members to take oath in Thursday's ceremony

Convention Center reserved for evening ceremony If you're looking for cheap entertainment and a feel for what the three new members of the City Council are planning to do in their first terms, head on down to the Austin Convention Center Thursday, June 15, at 7:30 p.m. for the swearing in ceremony. The event will be held in Ballroom A.

The oath of office for Mayor Kirk Watson and Council Members Raul Alvarez, Will Wynn and Danny Thomas will be administered by Judge Orlinda Naranjo of Travis County Court at Law No. 2, after which a special-called meeting will be brought to order for the purpose of electing the mayor pro tem.

Mayor Watson will no doubt reflect on the joy of having entered office for a second term with an actual majority, instead of because his candidate forfeited the runoff. Indeed, he can brag about having racked up the highest percentage of the vote ever attained for the direct election of the mayor, netting 84.02 percent. Watson's percentage of the vote best Carole McClellan's 78.88 percent in 1979. The mayor's remarks will be followed by speeches by Alvarez, Wynn and Thomas.

After the speechifying, the Huston-Tillotson Concert Choir, Alumni and Friends will sing the Battle Hymn of the Republic. Entertainment after the ceremony will be provided by Felipe's Latin Jazz. For more info, call Rebecca Giello in the city's Public Information Office at 499-2220.

Blue-ribbon meeting

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