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Hearing in Austin tonight on banning dogs from local trail

by Therese on November 8, 2007

in Austin pets, Dogs

20071018nodogs.jpgLisa over at Bark for Peace just emailed me and asked me to help get the word out about a hearing that is going to be held tonight here in Austin. The City Council will listen to arguments on whether or not to ban dogs from Turkey Creek Trail – a trail that has been leash free for over 3o years.

Here’s the info:

We’re coming down to crunch time for keeping dogs on Turkey Creek with the public hearing scheduled for Thurday, 8 November at 6 p.m. at City Hall: 301 West Second.

Here’s an overview of the strategies and logistics as we move forward:

Strategies and Logistics:

Winning Strategy 1. Show up.

Parking underneath City Hall or on the street is free after 5:30 p.m. The entrance to the parking lot is on the Lavaca side of City Hall on a one-way street heading north. On-street parking is free, but limited because of construction. You can hop an elevator from the parking garage to the 1st floor to enter the building or take the stairs up to the first floor.

Winning Strategy 2. Register that you are in attendance and your opposition to the proposed Plan.

Although we will have Friends of Turkey Creek volunteers circulating to orient you, when you come into the building, please register at one of the two (2) kiosks in the main entry hall.

Registering will make clear that you (a voter, a taxpayer, etc.) have taken the time to attend– that’s a big deal and signals our commitment!

During the registration, you will initially be asked to enter your name, phone number, and email address in the initial screen. The following screen will ask on what agenda item you wish to comment– the Balcones Canyonland Preserve issue is PH (Public Hearing) 118.

The third and final screen will ask two critical questions: (1) Do you wish to speak? and (2) What is your position on PH 118?

At the risk of being offensive, I’m going to encourage the vast majority of you not to register to speak.

Why? We believe that the City Council will likely limit the number of speakers and cut their individual time substantially if they believe that 50+ want to speak. The other option is that City Council can decide that evening to do a 50-50% time share in which those supporting the Plan have 50% of the time to speak and those of us opposing the Plan have the remaining balance. Given that we expect that a substantial number of folks who will turn up will oppose the Plan, a reduction in time or a 50-50% split will be a major disadvantage to the coordinated presentation we expect to provide City Council on Turkey Creek.

To be clear, the City Council has a strong feel for the views that many of you have expressed in your emails… a great thing, indeed. However, we have heard from nearly every City Council person that limiting our comments will not ensure we get to speak and address the challenges to Turkey Creek fully.

(Of course, if you feel an urgent need to speak, please register. You will have up to 3 minutes, assuming that City Council does not limit the number or time. )

You will be asked, finally, your position with the options of indicating that you support, oppose, or are neutral. Assuming that you oppose the outright ban on dogs contained within the Plan, you would want to indicate that you OPPOSE the Plan.

3. Get your paw.

Thanks to the generosity of fellow dog owners, we will be distributing very bright yellow labels with paws to wear. Put it on, preferably high up on your chest near your shoulder so that City Council members can easily spy it. The point is to provide visual reinforcement of your presence.

4. Hang out during the City Council hearing.

The meeting will be in the City Council chambers. The hearing may take a while to get through. City Hall is wireless- bring your computer, Crackberry, or other electronics. Feel free to dress casually and comfortably.

5. What the City Council and Mayor will do

The objective of the hearing is to hear from the public. Because the Mayor is the only member of the City Council who actually sits on the Balcones Canyonland Preserve Coordinating Committee and actually votes on the Plan itself, citizens and the members of the City Council have an important role in helping him understand their issues and recommendations.

The City Council will not “vote” on issues as the agenda only allows for public hearing. That said, we can expect the City Council to voice and represent their concerns, views, and recommendations on the proposed Plan.

This is precisely where your emails, letters, presence, and the paws come in…. having received emails, noting the turn out (and the paws), we want to help City Council to strongly recommend that the prohibition be removed.

Final thoughts:

What if you can only come later than 6 p.m.?

Come on, be sure to register, and get your paw on. Friends of Turkey Creek Volunteers will hang outside the Chambers to be sure you get your “markings.”

What if you have to leave early and you can’t stay for the entire public hearing? Be sure that you’ve registered your opposition and stay for as long as you can. We won’t know when the Turkey Creek presentation will occur until it does, so hopefully, you can stay through it.

What if you absolutely cannot be there?
You can still do something. If you haven’t sent an email, send it. If you can get to City Hall (as of 10 a.m. this morning), you can go to the kiosks and register your opposition to the PH 118 issue… You can take a friend along and double your impact…

Let me know if you have any questions- you can reach me at 512-699-8136 or via email at TurkeyCreekPups@gmail.

Look forward to seeing you on Thursday at 6 p.m.

Sheila Holbrook-White

Sheila Holbrook-White, Vice-Chair
Friends of Turkey Creek

Direct: 512 699 8136

I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make it or not. I had some previous plans, but if I can make it I will. And you can be sure I’m on the big fat NO side of this one!

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