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Renewal board moves to preserve post tri-party relationship with city

Tuesday, September 21, 2010 by Kimberly Reeves

Last night, the Urban Renewal Board passed the temporary framework it needed to maintain its relationship with the City of Austin if the Council chooses to allow the tri-party agreement to lapse at the end of the month.

 

The memorandum of understanding, discussed with the community at a workshop session last week, is intended to be a six-month stopgap measure while the city and the board discuss a long-term arrangement. The Austin Revitalization Authority would be left out of the arrangement.

 

The board, chaired by Ben Sifuentes, took an hour-long executive session to land on a series of motions made by various members of the board with no comment. The first was to support the lapse, or dissolution, of the current tri-party agreement to complete the urban renewal plan.

 

The second motion was in support of the short-term memorandum. A third, and fourth, motion, were intended to continue interaction with the city as it pertained to the development of Block 16, in the 900 block of East 11th Street, and Block 17, in the 1000 block of East 11th Street behind current development.

 

A number of speakers during citizens’ communications made it clear the end of the tri-party agreement was what they wanted. Stan Strickland, representing the neighborhoods, said the message was consistent among OCEAN, the Austin Neighborhoods Council and individual neighborhoods meeting with Council members in the last couple of weeks to discuss a future with no tri-party.

 

“We’ve made it very clear. We need a process change,” Strickland told the board during brief remarks. “We’re all aware of the tri-party’s dysfunction and problems. It’s complicated the whole situation.”

 

The five-page memorandum outlines the basic roles of the parties beyond the tri-party agreement: The city continues insurance and administrative staffing, with the sole responsibility to acquire property. The Urban Renewal Agency maintains all current holdings and will not acquire any addition property, with a promise of a complete set of financial audits in the next six months. Program income remains with the agency, but it must make a proper financial accounting to the city.

 

Additionally, any modifications to the agreement would be submitted in writing to both parties. Modifications would go through the agency and Planning Commission. Proposed changes also would go through a public hearing process.

 

Both sides will make a good faith effort, over the next six months, to draft a long-term agreement. All other prior work is superseded by the agreement.

 

Council is expected to take up the issue of the tri-party agreement on Sept. 30. The Urban Renewal Board is expected to hold additional hearings, and possibly a special-called hearing next week, for additional discussion.

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