Propositioning the City
When is the last time you climbed a tree? I just did. Maybe young people and adults see trees differently.
This past summer, I spoke to the Environmental Committee against cutting down the debated Heritage trees at the old Green Water Treatment Plant. As the only person under 18 speaking at City Hall that day, I said, “I'm here to represent the voice of my generation.”
It's just a few trees, right? But a few trees become millions of them lost per year to development. Urban deforestation isn't just bad for the environment, it's bad for the people.
On Arbor Day 1905 in Fort Worth, Teddy Roosevelt said, “A people without children would face a hopeless future; a country without trees is almost as hopeless.”
How does an idea become a proposition on the ballot to begin with? Surprisingly, a lot of people don't know. Ask the person next to you and the chances are they don't know. You might think to call 311 for an answer. The City Clerk's office told me I could look it up online.
As I was transferred around to offices, there was confusion about whether I wanted an opinion about certain Propositions, which I did not. City officials are not allowed to give input on ballot items. I was repeatedly asked if I wanted to know for a particular reason.
In the end, not one single Council Member, aide, or anyone else would explain to me the process. Everyone directed me to the City's Communication Department. They gave me a link to the municipal website.
Travis Heights Elementary parent Krista Ernst says, “I'm pro Prop. 9. Travis Heights Elementary uses Stacy Park's field. In my mind, there's been no ill effect to the park from this and it's critical for the school. I know there were concerns about the way the proposition was worded, but apparently the Sierra Club has now signed off on it, so I'm satisfied there's no danger of developers, etc. getting involved and taking advantage of the situation.”
Travis Heights’ neighborhood association (South River City Citizens) president Marc Davis told me that there are enough protections built into Prop. 9 to be positive.
“I think that our neighborhoods can feel comfortable with these arrangements and hopefully take pleasure in watching school children at play in our beautiful parks. The obvious concerns that we see in our neighborhood is for the health and well-being of our beloved parks.
“No one wants to see them developed for commercial use or encroached upon for uses that are un-park-like. I think that's where you might find some anxiety in the community over whether this is a good idea or not. If you read the ordinance, it only allows City Council to grant a lease to a school district, so there isn't a danger of a commercial developer taking advantage of this.”
One thing's for sure: two-thirds vote on the City Council counts a lot. Only 7% of Travis County voted in the Spring elections.
Please vote with my generation in mind because the future has a past.
William Graham, 13, organizes Teen Proper Nang Night