Tell elected officials that 1719 E. 2nd Street [1.1 mile from Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood Park] is OFF LIMITS! The Downtown Community Court MUST stay Downtown!
The City is proposing to build a new Community Court in an East Austin residential neighborhood. The City Council will vote on this issue on December 3rd.
The Downtown Austin Community Court (DACC) addresses quality of life issues by hearing 'fine only' criminal cases that originate downtown through swift creative dispositions that include case management. The majority of the clientele are experiencing homeless, chronic mental and physical illness, or substance abuse.
Best practices for Community Courts dictate that these Courts should be co-located or very close to a City’s Sobering Center where police take people who are experiencing public intoxication due to drug or alcohol use instead of police having to spend time booking a person into jail or having a long wait at an ER.
Austin and Travis County have a Sobering Center behind the old Brackenridge Hospital downtown, an area the City and County want to designate as an Innovative Health District. The Municipal Court Building attached to the Police Department is now vacant.
Therefore, it would make more financial sense to most taxpayers for DACC to relocate either to the vacant Health South Building next to the Sobering Center or the now vacant Municipal Court Building instead of paying for a new 3-story building with underground parking, and then owe monthly rent to a private developer and owner. The lease alone will cost $22 million. The City and County own several downtown buildings and vacant lots that could also be used in addition to Health South or the old Municipal Court.
Our East Austin Parque Zaragoza and Govalle Neighborhoods already are starting to look like Skid Row. For our neighboring East Cesar Chavez Neighborhood residents who have already set agreements in place for protecting their community with the City, here are a few reasons this proposed development is not appropriate:
Email the Mayor and ALL City Council members at https://austintexas.gov/email/all-council-members and call City Council members, the Travis County Commissioners Court and print the PDF flyer to inform your neighbors here!
Are you ready to grab the baton for the Parque Zaragoza neighborhood? The PZNA announces 2021 Elections for a new President
Chief Scoop Blogger, The #PZNA Neighborhood Nose
Every couple of years it's healthy for a community to have new leadership. Fresh approaches to old problems and new ideas keep a community engaged and relevant. And an engaged community is a healthier, happier and safer one.
Neighborhood Associations have many advantages. As a community group you get a ‘seat at the table’ at City Hall, you can apply for community or other grants, you can get Land Use development notifications from the City, you can start a neighborhood watch group, scholarship program and so much more!
As a neighborhood association president, one responsibility you have is to help facilitate meetings to either determine the group’s goals or inform them of new neighborhood developments throughout the year. Most meetings have a special guest, often a nonprofit or City Agency, wanting to provide helpful and timely information to the community.
Since its founding in June 2018, the Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood Association (PZNA) has grown to more than 100 members. Jen Massing Harris has acted as the PZNA president since its founding. During this time, she has built the communications platforms (website, email distribution, social media, press releases) for the group. She has also established relations with many city agencies, including City Council, Austin Police Department Region 3, Austin Parks and Recreation department, Austin Watershed, Austin Code, Austin Public Library, Austin Public Works and Austin Transportation’s Smart Trips Austin.
Most of the Jen’s PZNA time has been concentrated in these areas:
Though the PZNA’s activities are a ‘work in progress’ – see the recent #PZNA Neighborhood Nose blog ‘East Austin Neighborhood Crime Analysis Uncovers Hotspot Area; Prompts Public Safety Concerns’ - together, we have achieved a lot. Some highlights:
After two years of building the PZNA’s foundation, the time has come for Jen to hand off the baton to a successor. To be more effective, the PZNA needs not only a president but a board and bylaws to sustain the group. Currently, there is not a membership fee. Some fundraising or donation structure is probably required to cover operational expenses, such as PO Box, website, flyer costs, etc.
We will start with the priority of president as Jen is stepping down for personal reasons at the end of 2020.
A personal note from Jen: “As a neighborhood group president you can make a difference for your community. I’ve had the honor during the past two years to win many victories for the community that no one ever hears about. I’ve had the opportunity to team up and work on social good projects that I never would have been able to otherwise. It’s been a wonderful personal growth experience. And, I’m hopeful the new president will have strengths in areas where I wasn’t able to shine to push forward much needed changes our community deserves.”
Here are short descriptions of the PZNA roles/titles and responsibilities:
Set and finalize meeting agendas. Facilitate meetings. Can act as main contact for association. Follow processes and procedures outlined in bylaws. Delegate and supervise officer and member responsibilities. Ensure meetings adhere to agenda timelines. Maintain fairness and respectful behavior of meeting attendees.
Serves as an alternate to the President. Assist with planning meetings. Help maintain accurate records. Respond to mail and other inquiries. Attend other meetings as needed.
Maintain clear and accurate meeting documentation, such as minutes, attendance sheets, sign-in forms, and other relevant documentation. Ensure bylaws are maintained. Maintain an updated roster of members. Maintain records of association’s agreed-upon plans.
Manage and track association finances. Prepare budget reports. Report on fiscal issues at meetings. Balance bank statements. Maintain association’s tax-exempt status if necessary. File tax returns as needed.
Communications/Marketing Officer (If Not the President)
Update website and manage all social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).
Please fill out form if you would like to volunteer for President and/or one of the other board roles.
Stronger and Safer Together Beyond Crime - A Neighborhood Watch Group is for Emergencies and Natural Disasters Too
Chief Scoop Blogger, The #PZNA Neighborhood Nose
The Parque Zaragoza neighborhood has a perfect walkability score for all the necessities and desired luxuries of modern living, including retail shopping, hip bars and restaurants and several green spaces.
Unfortunately, with the rise of criminal activities such as robbery by assault, assault with weapon and assault with injury and theft, those neighborhood assets - and even our streets and homes - feel less safe. It doesn't help that 55% of all criminal activities occur within a small 2,000 ft radius of where all the community resources are located.
This past August, the PZNA conducted a crime analysis using City of Austin's Police Department Crime Viewer Open Source database. Some 1,110 crime citations were recorded within a 2,000 ft radius/perimeter of the East 7th Street and Pleasant Valley Road intersection during a two-year period from June 2018 through July 2020.
The Parque Zaragoza neighborhood like many areas in East Austin has seen a big turnover of new residents. Unlike the old days when neighbors were also aunts, uncles or cousins, our new residents are less likely to know the person next-door. A neighborhood association has many benefits. One of them is being able to establish a street, block or 'neighborhood watch' group with proper (and required) training through a two-hour online training course provided by the Austin Police Department. See the manual and volunteer sign up below.
Neighborhood Watch groups are about getting the training to keep a better eye out for each other, not only for crime but also for natural disasters and emergencies. And, today more than ever with the pandemic continuing, a close community is stronger and safer together.
Chief Scoop Blogger, The #PZNA Neighborhood Nose
CRIME ANALYSIS – 2,000 FT RADIUS/PERIMETER FROM EAST 7th/PLEASANT VALLEY INTERSECTION
Some 1110 crime citations were recorded within a 2,000 ft radius/perimeter of the East 7th Street and Pleasant Valley Road intersection during a two-year period from June 2018 through July 2020.
The following streets were included within the area: 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, Allen, Calles, Castro, Coronado, Diaz, Fiesta, Francisco, Garwood, Gonzales, Halcyon, Hidalgo, Lindon, Lyons, Northwestern, Pace, Pedernales, Pleasant Valley, Prado, Ramos, San Baba, Santa Rosa, Tillery, Webberville and Zaragosa.
Not all types of crime are reviewed in this analysis below. With exception of Family Disturbance on page 3, the other 11 categories included in this report cover life threatening intent, theft of property and/or drug related. They are as follows:
• Robbery by Assault
• Aggravated Assault
• Assault with Injury
• Assault by Contact
• Gun related
• Burglary Breaking & Entering
• Drug related
• Alcohol related
• Criminal Mischief
• Auto Theft
Since mid-2017, an increase of criminal behavior has been observed near the East 7th Street Bridge and Pleasant Valley Road intersection, where the HEB shopping Center, Citgo Gas Station, Cepeda Library Branch, Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood Park and Sonic are located. During this time, homeless camps have resettled several times within a few hundred feet from Parque Zaragoza as well as from under bridges on Castro and Prado Streets (over Boggy Creek) increasing the population of one camp located at the underpass of the East 7th Street bridge east of Pleasant Valley Road (but before Tillery Street). Nearby residents, community resources and local businesses have been impacted in negative, sometimes harmful or violent ways.
Out of 1110 citations issued from June 25, 2018 through July 23, 2020, 55% occurred on East 7th Street, Gonzales Street or Pleasant Valley Road where the homeless camp resides and conducts daily activities. To further break this down: 401 of 1110 (36%) were on East 7th Street, 89 out of 1110 (8%) were on Gonzales Street and 119 of 1110 (11%) were on Pleasant Valley Rd.
The 4-page report includes several charts including a breakdown of all streets in the 2000 ft area and measures six crime categories amongst them. Click the button below to read the complete report.
**All data provided from City of Austin Police Department Crime Viewer GIS Tool https://www.austintexas.gov/GIS/CrimeViewer
Austin Parks Foundation's It's My Park Day Spring - A Morning of Reuniting Friends of Parque Zaragoza / Amigos de Parque Zaragoza
Chief Scoop Blogger, The #PZNA Neighborhood Nose
This Austin Parks Foundation’s City-wide It’s My Park Day Spring 2020 for Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood Park really transformed into a truly special occasion as some of Parque Zaragoza's longest neighborhood park advocates and organizers attended and reminisced about the park, shared their stories and its history which dates back over 90 years.
For the morning's setup and gathering I deliberately picked the swimming pool and old recreation center/caretaker cottage location I now refer to as 'the heart of our park' because for at least 65 years up until 1996 all the community's activities and traffic flowed in and out from here.
We enjoyed breakfast tacos from Joe’s Bakery and Coffee Shop (a local business supporter of the park for decades) and discussed some shared goals for Parque Zaragoza's future including the next ACL Festival grant application for adding a new amenity to the park as well as historical preservation grant application opportunities. We also are aiming to bring back some older neighborhood park traditions too.
A heartfelt thank you to Austin Parks Foundation, City of Austin Parks and Recreations Department and the Parque Zaragoza Recreation Center team for their ongoing support through facilitating our events. But especially all who made it including returning volunteers from our previous It's My Park Day, Fall and also City Council Member Pio Renteria, his wife Lori and our District 3 first dog, Hija (Spanish for daughter).
I'm truly grateful and blessed that by learning about the history of this neighborhood park and its surrounding community who cares about it, I have found my own extended East Austin familia / family.
"Parks and Playgrounds are the soul of a city." - Marty Rubin
Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood Park Recipient of an ACL Music Festival Parks Improvements Community Grant; Funds to improve public health and usability
We are honored to announce that Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood Park is an Austin Parks Foundation ACL Music Festival Parks Improvements Community Grant recipient of $50,000 for the park's 'Historic Pool' to receive canopy shade installations.
Built in 1933 during the Great Depression and beginning of the Presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood Park’s Pool is one of the City of Austin’s earliest man-made pools. At the time of the pool’s construction, the accompanying bathhouse/caretakers cottage was built, and was then expanded by the National Youth Association and community volunteers in 1941 to become a two-room recreation center, used until 1996.
Though Parque Zaragoza is known for its heritage Oak Trees, shading around the Pool area is almost nonexistent. This much needed park improvement will help protect the community-stakeholders, including Parque Zaragoza Recreation Center Summer Camp children and Aquatics staff, from life-threatening and other sun exposure health risks. Such risks from the sun and UV radiation exposure include Skin Cancer, Immune Suppression, Eye Damage, such as Cataracts and premature aging.
Parque Zaragoza is one of five community grants totaling $199,000 that the Austin Parks Foundation is giving for parks and green spaces this 2019 fall cycle. The others are:
About Austin Parks Foundations Grants Program
Austin Parks Foundation’s ACL Music Festival Park Grants Program, Community Grants are intended for larger community-initiated physical park improvement projects that require between $5,000 and $50,000 in funding like signage installations, trail building and planning, physical improvement, and park maintenance. The grants have been awarded since 2006 but became offered twice a year in 2017. Since inception, APF has donated over $3 million to Austin’s park system through our Park Grants Program.
By Jackson Papillon, Chief Scoop Blogger, #PZNA Neighborhood Nose
In East Austin we have a park that knows all the old families of our community for she was the first before all others, making this park one of the ‘mothers’ to the others in our neighborhood. Zaragoza Park, or as she prefers, Park ‘Z’, has been giving her unconditional love through the decades from the late 1920s until the present.
And like all ‘Giving Mothers’, Z was hostess through the ages for many of our community’s fiestas, holiday and special celebrations. Always available for every occasion. As a ‘Hostess with the Most-ess’, many recall her two and three-day fiestas, community Thanksgiving celebrations, annual neighborhood reunions, amateur league baseball and softball tournaments, summer days swimming and nights dancing to Tejano and Conjunto music performed on the bandstand.
A very proud mother, she remembers all who have come to visit her, to climb her trees, run and roll on her grass, swing and play on her playground, walk or bike her trails, swim in her pool, play basketball or baseball, BBQ and picnic, perform on her bandstand or simply escape rest in her shade.
If you listen very carefully at dusk and at dawn, you can hear through the rustling leaves in the wind, birds singing and crickets chirping a Z singing the praises of all the names of our community’s families whose hearts and feet have touched her.
Return home to Mother Park Z and show her a little TLC this It’s My Park Day. Register via GivePulse here: https://givepul.se/ypka00
Jen Massing Harris, President, Co-organizer, Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood Assn. & Park Group
Jen Massing Harris, PZNA Neighborhood Nose Contributor
Found this historic photograph of our Parque Zaragoza neighborhood and park.
Photograph of Fiesta Patrias, the group who planned patriotic activities for Parque Zaragoza. Seated L to R: Macrino Ortiz, Ignacio Orriaga, Frank Morales, Ignacio Acosta. Standing L to R: Pedro Cortez, Severino Guerra, Frank Prado. Comite Patriotico Mexicano at Parque Zaragoza, photograph, 1930~; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth124550/m1/1/: accessed May 5, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Austin History Center, Austin Public Library.
Though this holiday isn't widely celebrated in Mexico, it dates back in the United States to 1863 originating from California to celebrate Mexican American culture and educate first generation Mexican American youth about their history and has spread across the globe and is now celebrated in several countries.
On June 7, 2005, the United States Congress issued a concurrent resolution calling on the President of the United States to issue a proclamation calling upon the people of the United States to observe Cinco de Mayo with appropriate ceremonies and activities. Many mistaken Cinco de Mayo for the Mexican Independence Day which is The Cry of Dolores or Grito de Dolores on September 16th.
Photographed are some of the original East Austin Fiesta planners! Happy Cinco de Mayo All!
Founded 90 Years Earlier By Community Advocacy, East Austin’s Parque Zaragoza Park Turns A New Page By Repeating History
Jen Massing Harris, PZNA Neighborhood Nose Contributor
Though Parque Zaragoza was officially founded in 1931 when the City of Austin purchased 9.3 acres of land, it was in 1929 when the local hispanic community petitioned the City of Austin Parks & Recreation Department for a park of their own.
In learning more about our community park's history, Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood Association follows a very long line of Community Advocates:
🦋1929, the League of United Latin American Citizens [LULAC] - advocate for employment, civil rights, and better education for Hispanic citizens
🦋1931, Zaragosa Park Board - 1st Members: Severino Guerra, Amador Candelas, and Miguel Guerrero
🦋1931, Mexican baseball league - before play field, teams played on a concrete slab with the bases painted onto the concrete.
🦋1932, Comites Patrióticos, Austin Branch - to promote Mexican patriotism and foster good relations between the two nations, largely through the celebrations of the #fiestas #CincodeMayo and Diez y Seis. First President was Amador Candelas.
🦋1933, Bathhouse and Pool built.
🦋1941, National Youth Administration, built on Bathhouse a community recreation center.
🦋1956, the Community starts Sunday afternoon baseball games and improves baseball field with wooden fence and bleachers in current baseball field location today.
🦋1981, The Zaragosa Recreation Center Advisory Board established petitioned for a new recreation center.
🦋1980's: City of Austin increases acreage of park
🦋1988, City renamed to reflect the proper spelling of Zaragoza.
🦋1996, #CityofAustin opens today's Parque Zaragoza Recreation Center on Cinco de Mayo.
🦋2017, Austin Parks Foundation awards $50,000 for Parque Zaragoza play field and park improvements.
🦋2017, Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood Park was designated a Lone Star Legacy Park by the Texas Recreation and Parks Society (TRAPS)
🦋2018, #ParqueZaragoza receives Ga Ga Pit thanks to City of Austin voters, Austin Parks and Recreation Department, Disney and the National Recreation and Park Association.
🦋2018 Park receives new playscape and play field improvements with help of Austin Parks Foundation, St. David's Foundation, RBI Austin, Austin Parks and Recreation Department
There's still a lot of history missing from above. I hope to learn more. But I also hope that we as a community today can band together to make new park and shared public places improvements. This East Austin neighborhood's legacy shows us the roadmap and raises the bar for what we can next do.🦋💚💃👨👩👧👧🌳🌺🌈
Chief Scoop Blogger
I'm Jackson Papillon, an East Austin Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood [#PZNA] Canine. I have a good nose for news and will cover two regular beats: