My name is Mary Rudig, and I am the current president of the North Austin
Coalition of Neighborhoods. I am writing to you in regards to the actions of
Austin Energy in regards to both North Austin parks (Northstar and Gracywoods)
and the Imagine Austin Plan.
There is a serious design flaw in the towers that carry the electrical load
to the substation behind the Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park. This design flaw
means the towers are too low for the current energy loads, and certainly too low
for future energy needs in this area.
Unfortunately, these towers run through two North Austin parks, which means that these low hanging power lines are directly above the trees in these parks. Since 2004,the Gracywoods Neighborhood Association has requested this design flaw be rectified and the towers raised.
Austin Energy has repeatedly refused. They have already clear cut many trees
in the area instead, and are now pressing for the removal and/or topping (a
pruning technique that weakens oaks and encourages oak wilt) of 64 heritage oak trees as well. As a home owner and a user of the parks in this area, I have
many, many problems with Austin Energy's actions.
As the current president of NACN, I see even a bigger problem with their
actions - and one that puts all of Austin at risk. These towers supply the
energy needs to the Domain, and as you are well aware, the North Burnet Gateway plan is one of the most crucial pieces of the northward growth as laid out by Imagine Austin. The North Burnet Gateway plan is also a key part of the North Corridor plan, which is a long-term transportation plan that CAMPO and Capita Metro are creating to supplement and support Imagine Austin.
While everybody's eyes are on our city to see how we implement Imagine
Austin, our own utility company is being allowed to set a tone that the Imagine
Austin plan is not important and can, in fact, be ignored and pushed aside. To
make matters even worse, members of the Gracywoods Park Team met recently with
Austin Energy and the Urban Forestry Board, and the Urban Forestry Board asked
Austin Energy to not touch these oaks until the Forestry Board could make their
recommendations. Austin Energy refused.
So at this point, Austin Energy has
1) refused to correct a defect in the energy infrastructure that serves the North Burnet Gateway Planning Area.
2) refused to correct this defect to support the Imagine Austin plan as it relates to North Austin and the planned growth.
3) refused to correct this defect to support the North Corridor transportation plan as set forth by CAMPO and Cap Metro.
4) and is now refusing to work with the Urban Forestry Board, even though these 64 oak trees are in public park space.
I am urging all of you to please think about the message that is being sent here. Is this the message we want to send as a city? Or do we stand behind the Imagine Austin plan, and do we insist all agencies within our city stand behind it as well?
Thank you so much for your time and I look forward to your prompt action on
Gracywoods - North Austin's Greenbelt
Liason - NACN
Changing North Austin - One Neighborhood at a Time
p.s. - the letter I sent to Austin Energy can be downloaded at this site: