Neighborhood Notes

Neighborhood Notes

Manchaca Village residents learn about Google Fiber at an informational session. Manchaca Village residents learn about Google Fiber at an informational session.[/caption]

SOUTH LAMARResidents at an affordable housing community in Southwest Austin are among the first in Austin to receive Google Fiber service for free as part of the Unlocking the Connection initiative.

Service launched at Manchaca Village in July, according to Parisa Fatehi-Weeks, Austin community impact manager with Google Fiber.

“Google Fiber started with this goal to make the Web faster for everyone,” she said. “A lot of residents currently face a lot of barriers to getting online.”

Fewer than 15 percent of Housing Authority of the City of Austin affordable housing residents have an Internet connection, she said.

As of January more than 90 percent of residents in Manchaca Village had signed up for service, and more than half completed digital literacy training, Fatehi-Weeks said.

Residents who complete the training can earn a free device donated by Austin Community College, she said.

Helping to provide Web connectivity is a worthwhile effort because of its social and economic effects, HACA Head of Strategic Initiatives Catherine Crago said.

“There’s a lack of affordable housing in Austin, so the sooner our families are self-sufficient the sooner they can move into market-rate housing and leave a place for the next [underserved] family,” she said.

Traffic backs up on Hwy. 71 near Hwy. 290. Traffic backs up on Hwy. 71 near Hwy. 290.[/caption]

OAK HILL– Local coalition Save Oak Hill plans to work with a local nonprofit to establish a way to receive tax-deductible contributions and kick off a fundraising campaign. The group opposes transportation authorities’ Oak Hill Parkway study, which examines potential long-term solutions for traffic congestion at the Y at Oak Hill, where Hwy. 290 and Hwy. 71 intersect.

The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority and Texas Department of Transportation have been gathering public input and narrowed down an initial proposals list to two designs as well as a no-build alternative.

SOH co-founder Alan Watts said fundraising will give Save Oak Hill the ability to hire a highway engineering firm with expertise in innovative traffic solutions to come up with an alternative design and cost estimate, Watts said.

Watts has said he is concerned that the proposed project could end up requiring the destruction of groves of heritage trees and negative impacts to Williamson Creek.

The coalition will host a series of rallies and fundraisers as well as write grants and promote awareness of its goals, he said.

The group’s website encourages residents to sign a petition to require inclusion of a non-elevated and non-tolled design as part of the Oak Hill Parkway study.

GARRISON PARK, SOUTH MANCHACA AND WESTGATETwo of the three neighborhoods in the South Austin Combined Neighborhood Plan area are close to forming their own contact teams, neighborhood representatives which work with city of Austin staff on long-term planning.

The Garrison Park and South Manchaca neighborhoods are working to form their own contact team and bylaws, and the Westgate neighborhood is “very far behind” in the process, said Margaret Valenti, contact team and education coordinator with the city’s Planning and Zoning Department. The Westgate neighborhood has yet to draft a proposed set of bylaws, she added.

“The community sets the pace for team formation,” Valenti said.

The city’s November approval of the South Austin Combined Neighborhood Plan—a long-term vision of how a portion of Southwest Austin should be developed—necessitated the formation of neighborhood contact teams with bylaws. The area addressed in the plan is bordered by Hwy. 290 in the north, Sunset Valley in the west, South First Street in the east, and West William Cannon Drive in the south.

The final step neighborhoods will have to take before forming a contact team and bylaws is holding a community-wide public meeting for each area, Valenti said. At that meeting, the proposed bylaws will be presented and will be voted on by the community.

If the bylaws are approved, then contact team elections will be held, Valenti said. 

For more information, contact Valenti at 512-974-2648 or



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