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Historic Landmark Commission OKs

Tuesday, February 27, 2001 by

Move for Scarbrough carriage house

UT has plans for Whitis property

The Historic Landmark Commission last night approved demolition of the fire-ravaged Scarbrough House and the relocation of the adjacent barn to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. The house was partially destroyed three years ago during an attempted renovation and the city has declared it to be a hazardous building.

Generations of Austin architects have admired the Victorian residence and carriage house at 2612 Whitis Ave., adjacent to the University of Texas. The heirs to the once grand mansion must now find a new home for the carriage house and the servants quarters before the University takes over the property. Charles Rieger, representing the owners Margaret Wilson and Lynn Scarbrough Jr., told the commission that the University has offered to buy the property but would take it through eminent domain if necessary.

Robert Brunig, executive director of the wildflower center, said the carriage house would be located adjacent to a newly designed butterfly garden. He said the barn-like structure would be restored and signs would provide historical information on the building at the new location. The commission told Brunig to bring back renovation plans for review after the structure has been relocated.

Gregory Free, whose firm is working to document the homestead before demolition, said in a letter to the commission that his firm would do a scaled survey (including trees) of the entire site, photograph it and provide a written narrative and site plan. Free said those materials would be submitted to the commission and placed in the collection of the Austin History Center.

Lauretta Dowd, chair of the commission, said she had “mixed feelings about the application.” She said the Wildflower Center is an excellent location for the carriage house, adding, “This is the only action we can take that will preserve the barn. I think the handwriting is on the wall, with the University of Texas communicating to the owners that (UT will pursue) eminent domain.

Commissioner Teresa O’Connell declared, “Every architect in town is in love with the barn. It's the last remaining significant structure on the site.” Commissioner Daniel Leary was asked if he knew what UT has planned for the property. He said he expects the university to build a large dormitory there.

Commissioners voted 9-1 in favor of a recommendation from Historic Preservation Officer Barbara Stocklin to allow the demolition and relocation to proceed. Commissioner Lisa Laky voted no. Commissioner Teresa Rabago was absent.

Stocklin is still hoping to find a new home for the servant’s house. She said she would be advertising the approximately 1000-square foot house for relocation.

Following the meeting, Julie Hooper of the Heritage Society said her organization would be donating $10,000 to the Wildflower Center to assist with the relocation.

Environmentalists say

Green Mountain not green

PIPE Coalition may join boycott

Green Mountain Energy advertises that it “provides electricity from cleaner sources like the wind and the sun. When you chose to buy electricity from us, you create demand for cleaner energy . . .” But environmental activists disagree. Mike Blizzard of the PIPE Coalition says that Green Mountain, while advertising electricity from renewable resources, is actually providing 98 percent of its Ohio customers with natural gas-generated power.

That’s not the only reason Blizzard is upset with Green Mountain Energy, which moved to Austin last year and promptly located over the Edwards Aquifer at Barton Creek Plaza. Blizzard tried unsuccessfully to convince the leadership of the company to ask BP Amoco, a major shareholder in Green Mountain, to pull out of the Longhorn Pipeline.

In an email to Blizzard, Thomas H. Rawls, chief environmental officer for Green Mountain, said, “We’re not the right organization to be a conduit to BP. Green Mountain Energy has a clear and targeted relationship with BP. They have invested in our business, which is to build the market for renewable energy. We’re glad for their support—and the support of other investors—and we need to be focused on the challenging work we face. We need to demonstrate to our owners that they made a good decision when they invested in Green Mountain Energy.”

Blizzard said Monday, “We are very disappointed that Green Mountain has refused to even communicate their own community’s grave concerns about the safety of this hazardous proposal to their corporate partners. We believe that it is important for folks to know that for every dollar they spend on Green Mountain Energy, one portion of that dollar will go to fund (Sam and Evan) Wylys’ political agenda and another portion will go to help BP finance projects like running gasoline through the Longhorn Pipeline and opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil exploration.” The brothers Wyly donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Bush presidential campaign. Blizzard said the PIPE Coalition would likely start a boycott of Green Mountain Energy in Texas, which will only take on meaning after electric deregulation has begun. See www.boycottgreenmountain.com.

©2001 In Fact News, Inc. All rights reserved.

No Mardi Gras . . . The Austin Police Department has cancelled the parade previously scheduled for 8 p.m. tonight. The city will be stringently enforcing ordinances, including the juvenile curfew, which prohibits people under 17 from visiting the downtown entertainment district between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. City Manager Jesus Garza jokingly said he would like everyone in the city to be home eating take-out by 8 p.m. . . . New bosses . . . Georgi Brooks-Newton has joined the Solid Waste Services Department as Assistant Director of Operations. She comes to Austin via Abilene, where she was the Solid Waste Manager. Vanessa Downey-Little, who has worked for the City of Austin since 1977, has been promoted to Assistant Director of the Human Resources Department. She holds a Masters of Businesses Administration degree, which she received while working for the city . . . Plan B . . . Council Member Danny Thomas, who is sponsoring a resolution to rename Rosewood Avenue as Dorothy Turner Blvd, has a back-up plan. Item 80 on this week’s Council agenda suggests naming the Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex after the controversial east Austin activist if the other plan fails . . . New commission . . . Mayor Pro Tem Jackie Goodman, her aide, Jerry Rusthoven, and City Attorney Andy Martin are scheduled to address the Planning Commission tonight on creation of a ‘Zoning and Platting Commission.’ Goodman would like to see the current Planning Commission’s duties split between two boards to expedite the process . . . City Council meeting . . . The Council will meet this Thursday at the Conley-Guererro Senior Activity Center, 808 Nile St., beginning at 1:30 p.m. The Council will hold an executive session at 11 a.m. at the Municipal Building, 124 W. 8th Street.

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