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Board member asked to resign after tempers flare over creek project

Thursday, June 3, 2021 by Amy Smith

Council Member Pio Renteria has requested the resignation of his appointee to the Parks and Recreation Board, citing her lack of decorum during a tense discussion about the proposed Central Williamson Creek Greenway at the board’s May 25 meeting.

The board member, Kate Mason-Murphy, responded with an accusatory email to Renteria, and copied her neighbors, leaders of the Southwood Neighborhood Association, and the South Manchaca Contact Team.

Mason-Murphy was appointed in 2019 and had almost two years left in her term. She has been an active Southwood neighborhood activist and is lauded for her leadership on parks-related issues. She was an early advocate of cleaning up Williamson Creek and creating natural trails that would connect several neighborhoods across South Austin.

When the trail plans expanded into a large-scale greenway project with a wide array of attractions, Mason-Murphy turned against the project – and so did some other neighbors, though not as vociferously as Mason-Murphy. She used her platform as a parks board member to publicly air her grievances at the May 25 meeting.

Renteria wrote in his initial email, “Our office has continued to receive concerning reports about hostile working relationships with city staff, city partners and other Council office appointees. Just this week, my office received complaints about a lack of decorum during the recent parks board meeting from other appointees and D3 constituents. I am concerned about staff’s inability to perform their job at Williamson Creek Greenway and the community’s inability to continue essential engagement on this project due to safety concerns.”

Among other retorts, Mason-Murphy disputed the existence of a greenway. “We do not have a ‘greenway,’” she wrote. “We have an abused, neglected, unhealthy creek with a trail … but you know that.”

Renteria told Mason-Murphy that if she didn’t resign, he would name a replacement for her and place the appointment on City Council’s June 10 agenda.

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