The Daily Hustle: 6/29/10

Council Present honors Council Past

The Daily Hustle: 6/29/10
Photo courtesy adam10414, Creative Commons

Sure, the Hustle was a little peeved that council didn't name the tiny, triangular plot of parkland south of City Hall Grackle Oaks, but Margret Hofmann Park is good too. Serving on council from 1975 to 1977, Hoffmann foreshadowed future green initiatives through her love of trees.

A formal naming ceremony is occurring today. From the city's press release:

How many cities would create a 1/5 acre park in the middle of a busy intersection to preserve a grove of heritage Live Oaks? This is a perfect example of the legacy Margret Hofmann has left to Austin. In April, 2010 Austin City Council unanimously voted to name the parkland triangle of trees on Cesar Chavez, The Margret Hofmann Oaks. and serves as the Gateway to City Hall. Many current and former elected officials will attend the ceremony to honor Ms. Hofmann, who served on the Austin City Council from 1975-1977.

Margret Hofmann is affectionately known as “Austin’s Tree Lady” was the driving force behind the tree preservation movement and the establishment of our first tree preservation ordinance. Without her leadership over the past 40 years Austin would look very different today. In the 1970’s trees were being destroyed for development all over Austin and Margret worked to stop that by changing the way city leaders and residents viewed trees. She understood the immeasurable value trees add to the environment and quality of life. She affectionately refers to them as “Austin’s oldest citizens”.

Ms. Hofmann was elected to the first City Council composed of women and people of color. She was also the author of Think Trees! week, which idea was based on her belief that the best way to save trees was to simply get people to think about them. As part of Think Trees! week the largest and most venerable trees in the city were nominated and inducted into the 1976 Tree Registry.

In addition to her service on City Council, Ms. Hofmann, now in her eighties, is still an active peace activist, whose passion stems from having survived the bombing of Dresden during World War II and having lost her mother in a Nazi concentration camp.

Few facts about Margret

· Was appointed to the Environmental Board by Lowell Lebermann because of her work in tree preservation and helped write the first draft of the tree ordinance & was the driving force behind the 1983 Tree Ordinance. Then served on Austin City Council from 1975-1977.
· In the early 1970’s convinced Council to save an ancient Oak tree on South Congress from being destroyed to build one parking space & that tree is still standing today.
· Authored Think Trees! Week and created Think Trees bumper stickers. When UT students climbed the trees in protest of their removal to build the Erwin Center she passed out Think Trees bumper stickers to the bulldozer drivers. They weren’t successful in stopping it, but many of the drivers put the stickers on their trucks.
· Created the tree registry of the 200 biggest and oldest trees in Austin.
· Created the City Arborist position & still calls to give advice.
· Pushed for Austin to build sidewalks around all elementary schools and while on council commissioned a sidewalk survey and installation began.
· On council passed first Smoking ordinance.

The ceremony is today, and will include Hofmann, Laura Morrison and Chris Riley, along with some other faces from Hoffmann's days on the dais: John Trevino (Austin Council Member 1975-1988), Emma Lou Linn (Austin Council Member 1975-1977), and former state senator Gonzalo Barrientos. It's happening in City Hall's council chambers, from 12:30-1:30pm.

What the hell else is happening?

On the city calendar: The Austin Revitalization Authority & Eleven East Corporation is gathering at Huston-Tillotson College, President's Dining Room, 900 Chicon, 6pm.

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