Austin History Center

Dawson Neighborhood Association Records

An Inventory to the Collection

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Dawson Neighborhood Association
Title: Dawson Neighborhood Association Records
Inclusive Dates: 1994-2012
Abstract: The Dawson Neighborhood Association (1994 - ) is a group comprised of volunteers concerned with issues and projects that affect and interest the residents of a neighborhood in Austin, Texas. The collection includes newsletters, plans, agendas, reports, clippings, and correspondence documenting the activities and concerns of the Dawson Neighborhood organization.
Identification: AR.2000.014
Quantity: 6.5 linear feet (13 boxes)
Language: The records are in English.
Repository: Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, 810 Guadalupe, PO BOX 2287, Austin, TX 78768

Administrative History

The immediate catalyst for the formation of the Dawson Neighborhood Association (DNA) in South Austin, Texas was the environmental battle with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) over the East Bouldin Creek Watershed, specifically the drainage tunnel at the intersection of this creek with the newly constructed US 290 freeway at Ben White. Galvanized into action by their opposition to the drainage tunnel and their fears of its impact upon East Bouldin Creek and its surrounding environs, the Dawson neighborhood residents organized and adopted bylaws with the help of the established and successful Bouldin Creek Neighborhood Association in 1994.

The DNA encompassed the geographical area that was defined by Oltorf to the north, Ben White/US 290 to the south, South First Street to the east, and South Congress Avenue to the west. The only qualifications for membership in the all-volunteer organization were residing within the DNA boundaries, being at least 18 years old, and participating in and voting at regular monthly meetings. The DNA disseminated information pertaining to the organization and the Dawson neighborhood to both its members and other neighborhood residents through their newsletter, DNA News. Later, via a Web site (, no longer active) was created to facilitate the ease of communication among all members of this community.

During the first three years of its existence (1994-1996) DNA presidents Cynthia Medlin (1995-96, 1997-98) and Donald Dodson (1996-97) focused DNA activities on matters pertaining to the East Bouldin Creek Watershed including the drainage tunnel that would carry highway run-off from the intersecting portions of the I-35 and US 290 freeways into the creek, the associated construction of the flood control pond for the creek on Alpine Street, and beautification projects along the banks of the creek. The DNA was also very focused on and actively concerned with the construction of a second drainage tunnel at the same freeway intersection location to carry highway run-off that would be diverted into the Williamson Creek Watershed.

Primary focus of the DNA began to shift in 1997 when the City of Austin Planning Commission invited proposals for a pilot project in which neighborhoods would work with the city in setting the standards for current improvements and future development within their borders. The Dawson neighborhood proposal was developed under the auspices of the DNA and it had the distinction of being one of the three neighborhood plans chosen by the city for this pilot project. The primary leadership role and work on the developing the formal plan was accomplished by Cynthia Medlin as DNA Neighborhood Plan Coordinator and the chair of the Leadership Committee. The Leadership Committee was composed of interested DNA members as well as representatives from other neighborhood businesses and organizations. This long, intensive, and involved development plan process naturally involved a close alliance with City of Austin officials, particularly Sue Karczewski and Robert Heil at the Planning, Environmental, and Conservation Services Department.

In order to effectively develop an inclusive plan for the neighborhood the DNA and the Leadership Committee conducted two surveys, one asking residents to identify what issues were important to them and the second detailing neighborhood areas in need of improvements. Examples of the issues that neighborhood respondents identified as worthy of consideration and inclusion in the development plan were the need to preserve and enhance the natural beauty and character of their neighborhood, creation of more parkland and greenway area, concerns about traffic volume and speed, propositions for change and improvement along the South Congress corridor, and public safety issues such as crime and prostitution.

On August 28, 1998 the DNA had the distinction of being the first neighborhood whose completed development plan was adopted by the Austin City Council as a formal amendment to the comprehensive city plan. The plan noted 85 specific action items that were designed to preserve or improve the neighborhood and responsibility for their implementation was shared by the DNA, the city, and other organizations.

After the adoption of the Dawson Neighborhood Plan the DNA, under the leadership of President Jerome Garvey (1998-99), became involved with requests by the City of Austin Zoning Board concerning proposed changes to property within the Dawson neighborhood in regards to guidelines outlined in the newly implemented plan. In 1999, again under the guidance of Neighborhood Plan Coordinator Cynthia Medlin, a committee, called the Dawson Neighborhood Plan (or, occasionally, "Planning") Team, was organized to implement revisions to the original Dawson Neighborhood Plan. Official neighborhood design guidelines based on the experiences of the DNA in creating their neighborhood plan were also created and established. Status reports on the implementation and completion of the initial 85 specific action items were also prepared in 1999 and 2000. Throughout the 2000s, the Dawson Neighborhood Plan Team submitted opinions to the Austin City Council regarding proposed amendments to the Dawson Neighborhood Plan, as well as regarding issues that interacted with the Plan, such as a 2001 bond election and a 2007 city council vote to create a vertical mixed-use overlay district in the area. In 2008, The Dawson Neighborhood Plan Team changed its official name to "Dawson Neighborhood Plan Contact Team" in response to updated City of Austin terminology regarding neighborhood plan committees. However, the original name continued to appear on some internal and public documents.

While deeply involved with the development and implementation of the neighborhood plan, the DNA was also actively concerned with other issues and projects of that had the potential to affect quality of life in the Dawson neighborhood and its residents. Examples of the wide range of issues and projects include the building of the Twin Oaks Branch Library, crime and prostitution on South Congress, securing funding for a proposed hike and bike trail to be known as the East Bouldin Creek Greenway, the Homeless Campus issue, the South Congress Improvement Project (SCIP), and the contentious opposition surrounding the movement of a methadone clinic into the confines of their neighborhood that was led by DNA member Kelly Smoot.

The DNA also developed alliances, working relationships, and memberships with such groups the Austin Police Department, Austin Fire Department, Austin Neighborhood Council, South Congress Coalition, and South Central Coalition on a wide-range of issues and projects important to its mission. In addition to the core of neighborhood residents who first formed the association, membership in the DNA expanded to include business owners, their employees, and Dawson area property owners who did not live within the neighborhood boundaries.

From 2000 to 2012, the DNA submitted opinions in area rezoning and zoning variance hearings, focusing especially on development that might increase traffic, noise and environmental hazards in the Dawson neighborhood. The DNA also lobbied for improvements to area parks, such as Gillis Park. Other key areas of action included fighting prostitution and drug dealing in the area, code enforcement, and neighborhood beautification and safety enhancements.

Principal figures in the Dawson Neighborhood Association Collection include past presidents Cynthia Medlin, Jerome Garvey, and Donald Dodson.

Scope and Contents

Newsletters, agendas, reports, clipping and correspondence document the bulk of the activities and interests of the Dawson Neighborhood Association. Arranged in five series representing the administrative documents of the Dawson Neighborhood Association, issues and projects in which the Dawson Neighborhood Association was involved, collected materials from both the city of Austin and other organizations, and administrative and collected documents of the Dawson Neighborhood Plan Contact Team, these records reflect the undertakings of the association and the breadth of their interests.

Administrative records contain the least material (.6 linear feet). However, this series, which contains agendas, notes and sign in sheets from monthly meetings, newsletters, organizational charts and early founding documents of the organization, provides a wealth of information relevant to the structure, practices, and daily affairs of the DNA.

The second series, Issues and Projects (3 linear feet), includes records created by the DNA as well as collected material. This mirrors the original order of the collection, which was organized by subject, where most relevant information relating to a project or issue of interest to the DNA were filed together. A major project addressed in this section is the Williamson Creek drainage tunnel, which is the issue that triggered the initial formation of the Dawson Neighborhood Association and the Dawson Neighborhood Plan. Part of the Dawson Neighborhood Plan included a binder of materials, collected by past president Cynthia Medlin. For preservation purposes, materials have been removed from the binder and rehoused in folders. They can be found in box 2, folders 11-13 and box 3, folders 1 and 2.

The third series is titled City of Austin (.25 linear feet), and includes records collected by the DNA. These documents are produced by the city and do not directly relate to an issue or project the DNA addressed.

The fourth series, Associated Organizations (.25 linear feet), like that of series three, encompass collected materials of other organizations. The documents do not directly relate to an issue or project the DNA addressed.

The fifth series, Dawson Neighborhood Planning Team (DNPT), includes records of the DNPT, which has been comprised largely of members of the Dawson Neighborhood Association (although an officially separate entity, according to City of Austin documents explicating its role), and exists to provide recommendations to city officials on any proposed amendments to the Dawson Neighborhood Plan. Included in these records are by-laws, meeting sign-in sheets, minutes, agendas, correspondence and collected materials. Additional information about the DNPT is available on the organization's Yahoo! group page ( A binder containing documents of the Dawson Neighborhood Plan Team was received in 2013. It was disassembled and retained in original order, with original divider headings where possible (shown in quotations), and forms the final subseries of the Dawson Neighborhood Plan Team series.


Collection is arranged into the following five series:
I. Dawson Neighborhood Association Administration
II. Issues and Projects
III. City of Austin
IV. Associated Organizations
V. Dawson Neighborhood Plan Contact Team

Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.
Dodson, Donald.
Garvey, Jerome.
Haun, David.
Heil, Robert.
Karczewski, Sue.
Medlin, Cynthia.
Nehme, Eileen.
Smoot, Kelly.
Austin City Council.
Austin Fire Department.
Austin Police Department.
Austin Neighborhood Association.
Chestnut Neighborhood Association.
City of Austin.
Dawson Neighborhood Association.
East Cesar Chavez Neighborhood Association.
Galindo Neighborhood Association.
South Central Coalition.
South Congress Coalition.
Texas Department of Transportation.
Twin Oaks Library.
Zilker Neighborhood Association.
Alpine Road (Austin, Tex.).
Austin (Tex.).
Ben White Boulevard (Austin, Tex.).
Dawson Neighborhood (Austin, Tex.).
East Bouldin Creek and Watershed (Austin, Tex.).
South Congress Avenue (Austin, Tex.).
Williamson Creek and Watershed (Austin, Tex.).
2nd Annual Smart Growth Conference (Austin, Tex.).
Alpine drainage pond (Austin, Tex.).
Bouldin Creek (Austin, Tex.).
Cinema West (Austin, Tex.).
City planning--Texas--Austin.
Community development--Texas-- Austin.
Creating a Livable Community Neighborhood by Neighborhood Workshop (Austin, Tex.).
Dawson Neighborhood Association (Austin, Tex.).
Drainage tunnel.
Homeless Campus (Austin, Tex.).
East Bouldin Creek (Austin, Tex.).
East Bouldin Creek Greenway (Austin, Tex.).
Federally Qualified Health Center.
Highway construction.
Interstate 35 (Austin, Tex.).
Methadone clinic.
Neighborhood association.
Neighborhood design guidelines.
National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit.
Smart growth.
South Austin (Austin, Tex.).
Twin Oaks Library (Austin, Tex.).
Y2K problem.
Document Types:
sheets

Separated Material

A copy of Austin Creeks (A 711.558 AU) was separated to the General Collection.

Administrative Information

Custodial History

Materials of the Dawson Neighborhood Association Collection were deposited in the Austin History Center Archives by Cynthia Medlin, Jerome Garvey, and Donald Dodson, three past presidents of the association, on November 14, 2000. Accruals to the collection are made on an irregular basis.

Preferred Citation

Dawson Neighborhood Association Records (AR.2000.014). Austin History Center, Public Library. Austin, Texas.

Acquisition Information

Donor #: DO/2000/122

Donation Date: November 14, 2000

Processing Information

Initial inventory and preliminary processing by Todd Gilliam and Ruth Baker, August 23, 2001.

Final processing and finding aid by Angela Palmer and Lisa Richter, December 2, 2003.

Finding aid encoded in EAD by Ashley Adair/2010.

Subsequent processing and finding aid revisions made by Ashley Adair/2010 and 2014.

Detailed Description of the Collection

I. Dawson Neighborhood Association Administration, circa 1994-2010

Note: Series includes administrative records of the Dawson Neighborhood Associating, documenting primarily its meetings. Included are sign-in sheets, agendas, and notes for meetings from 1994 to 2010. DNA newsletters from 1994-2000 are also included, although a few editions are missing. Newsletters from 2001-2007 are also found in the DNA meeting folders for that time period, as they were used to publish meeting agendas. Some meetings of the Dawson Neighborhood Association and the Dawson Neighborhood Plan Contact Team seem to have been combined in the 2007-2009 period. Materials reflecting these meetings are retained in original order in Series V. Dawson Neighborhood Plan Team, within the Binder Materials subseries. Original folder names, where possible, are labeled with quotation marks.
Box Folder
1 1 Organizational records, circa 1994-2002
2-8 Meetings, circa 1994-2000
Box Folder
9 1-3 Meetings, circa 2001-2010
Box Folder
1 9-15 Newsletters, 1994-2000
16 "Listserv and Contacts," 2002-2005, undated

II. Issues and Projects 1997-2012

Note: Series documents projects, issues and events in which the DNA was involved. Material from 2001 to 2007 also reflects activities of the Dawson Neighborhood Planning Team (later known as the Dawson Neighborhood Plan Contact Team), which was comprised primarily of DNA members but was an officially separate entity working on issues directly related to the Dawson Neighborhood Plan. Original folder headings, where possible, are indicated in quotation marks.
Dawson Neighborhood Plan, 1997-2008
Box Folder
2 5 Bound Plan, 1998
6 Plan creation and implementation, 1998-2000
7 Drafts and design guidelines, 1998-2000
8 Planning team meetings, 2000, undated
9 Walking surveys and inventories, 1997
10 Zoning changes to plan, 1999
Box Folder
10 7 Zoning changes to plan, 2001
8 Zoning changes to plan, ca. 2006
10 Dawson Neighborhood Design Guidelines, 2000
Box Folder
2 11-13 Medelin material, 1998
Box Folder
3 1-3 Medelin material, 1998, undated
4 Garvey material, 1998, undated
5 Clippings, 1999
6 Smart Growth conference, 1997-1998, 2000
7-8 Creating a Livable Community Neighborhood by Neighborhood workshop, 1999
Box Folder
4 1-3 City of Austin material, 1997-1999, undated
Box Folder
10 11 City of Austin planning materials, 2006-2008
Box Folder
4 4 City of Austin Smart Growth material, 1999-2000, undated
5 East Cesar Chavez Neighborhood Plan, 1998-1999
6 Chestnut Neighborhood Plan, 1999
Box Folder
10 9 Other neighborhood planning team by-laws, 2002
Box Folder
4 8 Assorted, 1995, undated
Location FlatFile
qAR 04/02/009-012 Dawson Neighborhood Planning Area maps, 2000, 2005
04/02/013-017 Dawson Neighborhood plat maps, undated
Creeks and Drainage, 1995-2011, undated
Box Folder
5 1 East Bouldin Creek, 1995-1997
2 Williamson Creek, 1996-1997
3-6 Williamson Creek drainage tunnel National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, 1997-1999, undated
7 East Bouldin Creek Clean-Up, undated
8 East Bouldin Creek Greenway, 1994, 1998-2000, undated
Box Folder
10 12 "Creek/Water Issues," 2008, undated
13 "Creek/Water Issues," 1995-2011, undated
14 "Creek/Water Issues--Storm drains, similar issues," 2010, undated
15 "Creek Cleanup--Keep Austin Beautiful," 2011, undated
Homeless Campus Issue, 1996-1998, undated
Box Folder
6 3 Reports and memorandum, 1996-1998
4 Correspondence, 1997
5 CAN Homeless Task Force minutes, 1996
6 Notes, undated
7 Clippings, 1996-1998
8 Fliers and pamphlets, undated
9 Materials to David Haun, circa 1997
Methadone Clinic (400 W. Alpine Road), 1998-1999
Box Folder
6 10-13 Correspondence, 1998-1999
11 Correspondence, 1998-1999
12 Deed, memoranda, certificates of occupancy, maps, 1998-1999
13 Collected materials, flyers, 1998-1999
South Central Issue, 1995-1999
Box Folder
6 16 Correspondence, 1997-1999
17 Collected materials, 1995-1998
South Congress Corridor Planning Project, 1996-2000
Box Folder
7 1 Grant application and notes, 2000
2 Correspondence, 2000
3 Agreement, historical perspective, 1999
4-9 Prostitution, 1996-1999
Southwestern Bell issue, 2000
Box Folder
7 10 Administrative records, 2000
11 Correspondence, 2000
Twin Oaks Branch Library, 1997-1999
Box Folder
7 16 Administrative records, 1997-1999
17 Correspondence, 1998-1999
18 Bonds Oversight Committee, 1997-1999
Additional assorted issues, 1998-2009
Box Folder
2 1 Airport issue, 1999
2 Cinema West issue, 1998
3 Dawson Day celebration, 2000
4 DNA website, undated
Box Folder
6 1 Federally Qualified Health Center issue, 1998-1999
2 HEB issue, 1997
14 Solid waste issue, 1997-1998
15 Pawn shop at Oltorf Street and South Congress Avenue issue, 1997-1998
Box Folder
7 12 Speed hump issue, 1997
13 Fontana Drive street light issue, 1998
14 Train quiet zone issue, 2000
15 Tree Week, 1998
19 Y2K issue, 1998-1999
20 Reyna and Alderman zoning issue, 1999
Box Folder
10 1 Assorted zoning, Board or Adjustment and Planning Commission cases, 2001-2012, undated
2 Bond election, 2006
3-5 Fort Magruder issue, 2006-2007
Box Folder
11 1-3 Fort Magruder issue, 2001-2008
Box Folder
10 6 Vertical mixed use overlay district vote, 2007
Box Folder
11 4 Neighborhood Watch, undated
5 Dawson Elementary School, undated
Location FlatFile
qAR 04/02/007 Lessin Lane Parking Lot site plan, 2009
04/02/008 Reliant Rehabilitation Hospital South Austin site plan, 2007

III. City of Austin 1996-1999

Note: Series is comprised of material produced by the City of Austin and collected by the DNA. These documents do not directly relate to an issue or project the DNA addressed.
Austin City Council, 1996-1999
Box Folder
8 1 Collector Street Plan, 1998
2 Notice of public hearing, 1999
3 Citizens' Planning Committee Report, 1996
Citizens' Planning and Implementation Committee, 1997
Box Folder
8 4 Implementation Committee Report, 1997
District and Court Attorneys' Association, 1999
Box Folder
8 5 Fax, 1999
Fire Department, 1998
Box Folder
8 6 Correspondence, 1998
Police Department, 1996-1999
Box Folder
8 7 Advisory Board, 1996-1999
8 Assorted, 1996-1999
9 Crime statistics and reports, 1996, undated
10 Fliers and pamphlets, 1996-1999
Public Information Office, 1999
Box Folder
8 11 Calendars of Events, 1999
Assorted, 1997-2000, undated
Box Folder
8 12 Corridor Planning Project, 2000, undated
13 Emergency contact information, 1997
14 Assorted, 1997-1998, undated

IV. Associated Organizations, 1995-1999

Note: Series contains collected materials of organizations other than the DNA. The documents do not directly relate to an issue or project that the DNA addressed
Box Folder
8 15 Austin Free Net Network, 1998
16 Austin Independent School District, 1998-1999
17 Austin Neighborhoods Council, 1998-1999
18 Austin Task Force on Immigration Issue, 1998
19 C.A.R.E. Program, undated
20 Mista Mean Watch, undated
21 Neighborhood Safety Committee, 1997-1998
22 Property Tax Division Information Services, undated
23 South Congress Coalition, 1996, 1998-1999
24-25 South Central Coalition, 1996, 1998-1999, undated
26 South Congress Improvement Project Steering Committee, undated
27 Southwest Commanders Forum, 1999
28 Texas Department of Transportation, 1998
29 Texas Guardianship Association, 1998
30 Texas Imported Fire Ant Research and Management Plan, 1998
31 Tree Folks: Urban Orchard Project, undated
32 Assorted, 1995-1999, undated
33-34 Donald Dawson, 1995-1998
35 Assorted notes, undated

V. Dawson Neighborhood Plan Contact Team, 2003-2012

Note: Included in this series are materials documenting the administration and activities of the Dawson Neighborhood Plan Contact Team (also known as the Dawson Neighborhood Plan Team), which has shared membership overlap with the Dawson Neighborhood Association. Much of this material was received in a three-ring binder, the contents of which are now found in the Binder Material subseries. Folder and binder tab headings have been retained in quotation marks where possible. The Binder Material subseries also contains additional meeting documents relating to both the Dawson Neighborhood Association and the Dawson Neighborhood Plan Team. Box 9, folder 7 contains CDs with meeting-related document files and sound recordings. Box 12, folder 13 contains a DVD recording of a City of Austin Planning Commission meeting from June 24, 2008.
Administration, 2003-2011
Box Folder
9 4-5 By-laws, 2003-2009
10 By-laws restructuring, 2011
6-7 Meetings, 2003-2010
8-9 Membership records, rosters and applications, 2006-2011, undated
Box Folder
11 6 Board vote, 2011
Dawson Neighborhood Plan, 2006-2008, undated
Box Folder
11 7 Dawson Neighborhood Plan creation process materials, 2008, undated
8 Future Land Use Map (FLUM), 2006-2007, undated
9 Planning Team training materials, 2009, undated
Issues and Projects, 1997-2012
Box Folder
12 1-2 "141 W. Oltorf," 2011, undated
3-4 "Cypress/Oak Meadows (S. 1st St.)," 2008-2011, undated
5 "3808 S. Congress," 2011, undated
6 "Medspring Case," 2012
7 "Small cases/notes" [Assorted zoning and City Code cases], 2008-2011
8 Capital Improvement Projects, 2010-2012
9 Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan, 2010
10 Community Development Commission, 2009
11 "Front yard parking," 2010
12 "Mobile food vendors," 2009-2011, undated
13 Assorted issues and projects materials, 1997-2009
Binder Materials, 2002-2009, undated
Box Folder
13 1 City of Austin boards and commissions, 2009, undated
2 "Neighborhood Plan," Undated
3 "Meeting Notes" [Dawson Neighborhood Plan Team], 2008-2009, undated
4 "Meeting Notes" [Dawson Neighborhood Association], 2002-2008, undated
5 "Wilson Street," 2002-2008, undated
6 "Ft Mac" [Fort Magruder], 2007, undated
7 "3116 S. Congress Ilai," 2008
8 "Cypress," 2008
9 "NPZD By-Laws" [Neighborhood Planning and Zoning Department], 2008, undated
10 "Dawson By-Laws" [amendments to Dawson Neighborhood Plan Team By-Laws], 2008, undated
11 "Dawson Infrastructure," 2008, undated
12 "Emails" [and other correspondence], 2008-2010, undated
13 "Ordinance Revisions 08-09," 2008, undated
14 "Plan Team minutes" [and meeting agendas], 2008
15 "Zoning Info," 2005, undated
16 "Misc. zoning cases," 2008
17 "City of Austin" [assorted materials produced by the City of Austin], 2009, undated