ARA: Neighborhoods Back on Board?

Austin Revitalization Authority gets new board members

The Robertson Hill and Swede Hill neighborhood associations once again have representation on the Austin Revitalization Authority, although not without some debate. The two associations' previous appointees to the board got booted off in April for signing a letter from those organizations to City Council, requesting that the city's financial relationship with the ARA be terminated and the authority's role in the East 11th Street/East 12th Street redevelopment project be eliminated – an action "contrary to the interests of the ARA," as ARA board Chair Charles Urdy put it (see "Naked City," April 30). On Tuesday, while architect Eric Standridge of the RHNA was seated without debate, the SHNA rep drew scrutiny. SHNA suggested three possible choices, the first being SHNA President Tracy Witte – which didn't sit well with some, as she was also a signatory. Debate then ensued about whether Witte could rightfully be kept off the board because of actions committed when she wasn't a board member, whether the SHNA should appoint someone who is against the organization's mission, what exactly the mission is, and whether anyone from SHNA could be found who would be a team player. Another SHNA choice, developer Robert Hageman, finally declared he was willing to serve. "It's incredible to me that neighborhoods [and] local residents directly affected by the implementation of a plan for urban renewal have to pledge allegiance to a failed steward-organization in order to just hold a seat on its board and represent our interests in a manner that does not get us removed," Witte told the Chronicle afterward.

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Austin Revitalization Authority, Robertson Hill, Swede Hill, Eric Standridge, Robert Hageman, Charles Urdy

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