AUSTIN (KXAN) — There are more than 80 items on this week’s Austin City Council agenda. Here’s some of what we’re watching.
‘Safe Place’ program expansion: Approved
Council Member José Velásquez introduced a resolution that would enroll all city recreation centers and public libraries in the Austin Police Department’s ‘Safe Place’ program and require training of staff at those locations. Austin City Council voted to approve the program expansion Thursday morning.
The ‘Safe Place’ program was first created in Seattle as an attempt to combat the lack of reporting of anti-LGBTQ+ crimes. It has since expanded to the reporting of all bias crimes.
“Businesses that participate place an easily recognizable decal at their entrances. This symbol is a signal for victims of hate crimes and bias incidents that this location has partnered with the police, will call 911 on their behalf and allow them a safe place stay to on the premises until the police arrive,” the Austin Police Department’s website says.
According to council documents, Velásquez hopes expanding the program to well-used city facilities could help with public awareness of the resources available to people who have been victims of bias crimes.
Brodie Oaks redevelopment: Approved on second reading
Council members are expected to bring forward some of their final amendments to the Brodie Oaks Planned Unit Development (PUD) prior to signing off on the project. Council voted to approve its second of three readings Thursday, with a third and final discussion slated to come this summer.
A restrictive covenant amendment will be discussed on the item at council’s July 20 meeting.
The increasingly empty shopping center near South Lamar Boulevard and the 360 Loop is eventually going to become a small skyline in south Austin, if the redevelopment of the nearly four-decades-old mall is approved.
The initial proposal for the roughly 40 acres includes almost 2,000 residential units, shopping areas, an Imagine Austin Activity Center, several parks and a trailhead for the Barton Creek Greenbelt, KXAN previously reported.
Airport expansion moves to next phase, doubles contract size: Approved
The Austin airport is moving on to phase two of its design process in the airport expansion program, and is more than doubling its contract with the design firm.
Airport staff will ask city council to increase its current contract with architectural design firm, HNTB Corporation, by an additional $27 million for a total of $52 million. Council authorized the original $25 million contract back in December of 2021.
On Thursday, council voted in favor of the additional funding.
HNTB is consulting the airport on how it can expand, as the city continues to grow and the need for a bigger airport becomes more apparent.
The airport staff says the initial $25 million was an “estimate to support the initial planning efforts” of the expansion program, according to documents attached to the agenda item. The additional money will be used to “support the development of program definition documents,” “airport development standards,” “campus wide wayfinding,” “landscaping plans,” “completing digital governance guidelines for document storage,” and “control and Concession Plan,” according to documents.
Elizabeth Ferrer, a spokesperson for the airport, said phase one of the design phase has been about long-term feasibility studies and creating a vision for expanding the airport. The next phase will focus on creating a firm outline on the projects it can do, what order the projects will be done, and how much they will cost. Phase two will start focusing on some of the bigger expansion projects, like the midfield concourse with the underground connector tunnel.
“They’re looking at, is this possible? How can we maximize the space and the dollars that we have available? And how do we make it happen?” Ferrer explained.
Ferrer said some of the smaller projects are currently in the design phase, like the atrium infill project, which will expand passenger processing.
Mental health first aid initiative: Approved
Council Member Vanessa Fuentes is asking the city to partner with Community Advancement Network (CAN) to provide mental health first aid training to community members and city staff. The goal of the training is to help people identify and better help someone experiencing a mental health crisis.
Thursday morning, Austin City Council voted to approve the measure.
CAN said it has a short-term goal of training at least 100 people by June 1, documents said. It’s part of a broader initiative for the group. Prior to the vote, Fuentes confirmed more than 200 people have already signed up for training.
“MHFA training has been shown to increase participants’ knowledge regarding mental health issues, decrease negative stigmas, and increase supportive behaviors toward individuals with mental health issues,” documents aid.