Friday, July 23, 2010

New President for Newman Park Neighborhood Association

Jim Tolbert with Newman Park guest and community activist, Debbie Kelly

This past Saturday, board members of the Newman Park Neighborhood Association elected me(Jim Tolbert) as President. I will fill the one-year unexpired term of Lynn Coyle. Lynn will serve out her last year on the board but resigned as President. The board also re-elected Abbie Majercyzk as Secretary. Becky Friesenhahn has one more year as Vice-President and Lee Byrd has one more year as Treasurer.

I'm the author of this blog and the neighborhood e-letter. I also serve on other community boards. I'm President of the West Texas Urban Forestry Council, convenor of Celebration of Our Mountains, a member of the City of El Paso Open Space Advisory Board and Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. I'm a member of the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition board, a Master Naturalist and a Master Gardener. Occasionally I do work doing marketing copy for clients along with some public relations work. I have a number of print and promotional products customers. I promote hiking and schedule hikes for a growing list of people. I also blog at elpasonaturally.

Jim presents Lynn with a plaque in appreciation of her service as NPNA's first President

To say that following Lynn will be a hard act to follow is a gross understatement. Lynn established the tempo and events of our Association. Around town and at City Hall, it is her face that people often put to our neighborhood. She would not quit until the McKee House was finally under new ownership and she has kept an eye on the park always with a deep, maternal, loving concern. I am fortunate that she will remain on the board.

I am also fortunate for all the other great persons who serve the neighborhood as board members. The wisdom, experience, talents and caring of each member is a real asset not only to any President, but also to the neighborhood, greater community and city. I am lucky to be serving with Becky Friesenhahn (Vice-President), Abbie Majercyzk (Secretary), Lee Byrd (Treasurer), Sally Sauli (Neighborhood Coalition Liaison), Lisa Degliantoni, Robert Taylor, Juan Villalobos, Christine Estrada (who thankfully returns to the board) and, of course, Lynn.

The main thing is that the other board members and I are here for you. Please don't ever hesitate to call or email me with anything that is on your mind or in your heart.

Newmanista and former Mayor Suzie Azar and Newman Park guest, Professor Karl Putnam

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Unidentified Vehicle Takes Out Park Bench

Becky Friesenhahn and her daughter examine tire tracks

Joy rider? Intoxicated? Whatever - someone who drove a vehicle diagonally across Newman Park last night must have come to a rude awakening when plowing into one of the new park benches. The bench was uprooted from one of its concrete footings, twisted out of shape and snapped into 3 pieces. Tire tracks reveal that the vehicle entered the park on the NE corner of Alabama and Altura, crossed the length of the park diagonally, took out the bench, and exited at the NW corner of Louisiana and Richmond. The bench is located on a "dark" corner.

Police were called at 11:28 a.m. but have yet to come out to make a report.

Joel McKnight at Parks and Recreation was informed as well and a Parks representative was on site shortly.

Remodel of McKee Home Underway

Workers were busy making major improvements on the iconic McKee House. The house was recently purchased by Enrique and Lupe Mata who plan to make this landmark their home.

Mystery Woman

Win a free Papa Burger basket by being the first person to identify the mystery woman in the middle of the picture. Relatives are not eligible. Email me with your answer. Click picture to enlarge.

Newman Park

Click on image to enlarge

On July 9 members of the Sunrise Hikers group did one of their "flashlight" or evening hikes. They took the Directissimo to the new Jackaloop trail that goes directly to the platform on Ranger Peak. Above is a picture of our Newman Park taken from Ranger Peak taken at about 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Huge Turnout for Annual Meeting

Over 160 people attended the Newman Park Neighborhood Association annual meeting and picnic

The Newman Park Neighborhood Association held its third annual picnic and general meeting this past Saturday. More than 160 people attended - a record which underscores the huge success of this young organization.

Five new Board members were elected for a two-year term: Abbie Majerczyk and Lisa Degliantoni (who had both filled board vacancies) and Sally Ann Sauli, Robert Taylor and Christina Estrada. (Christina had previously served on the Board.) Lynn Coyle who will continue as a Board member is stepping down as President. Board members will fill the vacancy of her office at their next board meeting on Saturday, July 17.

Juan Villalobos performed a herculean task grilling hamburgers and hot dogs for the crowd.

Newmanista Mike Torres and the Big Easy performed foot-stompin' Motown soul songs. The dance "floor" was crowded for each and every song.

More pictures of the event can be seen on Facebook.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Wood Chips!

The project at Newman Park was completed today. Gone is the sand at the playground. It was replaced by wood chips - a much more hygienic product.

The job was done just in time for the Newman Park Neighborhood Association's Third Annual Meeting and Picnic tomorrow night beginning at 6 p.m. Newmanista Mike Torres and the Big Easy will provide New Orleans blues and classic soul music.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Playground Closed for Upgrade

The Newman Park playground will be closed through Friday while the City Parks and Recreation Department upgrades the bedding from sand to wood fiber.

Park Area Supervisor, Victor I. Flores, explained:

"We will be closing the modular playground for removal of all the sand fall surface. We will be replacing sand with engineered wood fiber. Construction fencing will be on site until the end of the project in 2-3 days. I expect to have the fencing removed as soon as the fall surface has been restored to playground standard. Sand removal in the turf perimeters will follow in days to come."

Large portions of the park turf have recently been buried by sand escaping from the playground. The causes of this "escape" are prevalent winds from the west-southwest and increased use of the park since the addition of swings and additional tables and benches.

Parks and Recreation was recently notified that a subcontractor hired to do clean-up at the park was also adding to the problem by blowing sand off of the sidewalks onto the grass rather than corralling it back into the playground.

Wood chips such as those used underneath the swings are not just easier to maintain - they are far cleaner than the sand that is often used by animals as a litter box.

For the next couple of days while the playground is closed the swings will be available. Some of the older tables and benches will be moved away from the turf. Plans to clean the sand off of the smothered grass surface have already been made.