Castlewood/Oak Valley Neighborhood Association Records
An Inventory of the Collection
The Castlewood/Oak Valley Neighborhood Association (COVNA) was formally organized on January 6, 1981, by residents of this neighborhood in far Southwest Austin; its purpose, as expressed in its by-laws, was to "maintain residential areas of high standards, enhance property values, and seek to improve the quality of life in the neighborhood" in matters such as land use, environmental protection, and public services. Its geographic boundaries are defined as: North--Davis Lane; South--Queenswood Drive and Monarch Drive; East--Eastern limits of Castlewood Drive and Comburg Drive; and West--Queenswood Drive. The initial impetus to its formation was the proposed Pheasant Run subdivision to be built adjacent to the neighborhood's western boundary. Residents were fearful that this development of multi-family homes would adversely affect their property values and way of life. Based on this precedent, the methods and actions of the Association developed along two principles: 1) to educate and inform residents concerning issues of pressing concern through appropriate communications and meetings; 2) to advocate and lobby for the effective airing of resident's interests and concerns in public forums and through communications with public officials. In this manner, COVNA addressed itself to a number of developmental issues impacting its residents and reflecting the explosive growth in South Austin during the 1980's and 1990's. Deed restrictions stipulated that all buildings in COVNA's neighborhoods were to be single family dwellings with the exception of four buildings at the intersection of Monarch and Manchaca roads which were zoned commercial and duplex. Efforts were also made in the early 1980's, largely unsuccessful, to prevent the building of wastewater treatment plants whose effluents would discharge into nearby waterways. The Association fought unsuccessfully to prevent its neighborhood's annexation into the City of Austin in 1984 and 1985, and though COVNA's residents were now a part of the city's tax base, they encountered continual struggles in receiving the full city services to which they were entitled. Campaigns in 1986 and 1987 sought to annex the neighborhood from the city and to eliminate Capital Metro's bus routes through its streets. COVNA was also a strong advocate for and supporter of the establishment of green spaces and parks in its South Austin area. In the late 1980's, in the face of continued residential development, Castlewood/Oak Valley recognized itself as an older neighborhood-- "an island unto ourselves" --surrounded by newly formed Municipal Utility Districts whose residents had full gas and sewer service. COVNA's neighborhoods were still on individual septic tanks and all-electric service so a major push was made to have sewer lines and natural gas service installed. From 1991-1994, COVNA spearheaded its residents wholesale participation in a joint effort with the city to combat oak wilt disease in its neighborhoods, to be achieved through trenching and tree injections. The Association received widespread recognition and commendation as a model for neighborhood cooperation in resolving this problem. Other issues in which COVNA was involved include the installation of street lights, crime and safety concerns addressed through the Neighborhood Watch Program, traffic safety and control, roadway improvements, and school overcrowding in Southwest Austin.
The principal figures guiding the direction and activity of COVNA have been its various presidents. The first and founding president was Samuel Poile who served in this capacity from 1981-1983. Succeeding presidents have included:
COVNA's records document the neighborhood's pains of transition in a rapidly growing city, and the problems inherent in allowing for growth while at the same time trying to maintain adequate public services and up-to-date capital improvements. Minutes and agendas, correspondence, printed material, financial records, legal documentation, maps, reports, and membership rosters document the activity of the Castlewood/Oak Valley Neighborhood Association (COVNA) from 1979 to the 1990's, in representing and advocating the interests of the residents of this far Southwest Austin neighborhood. The records are arranged into a set of series that represent 1) the administrative records of the organization and 2) the particular projects, issues, and concerns which the organization was addressed.
Within the Administrative Records (1981-1995) series COVNA's meeting documentation (1981-1995) is noteworthy for its comprehensiveness in spanning COVNA's history as a formal organization; agendas, minutes, and notes of the executive board meetings are arranged separately from those of regular Association meetings. The legal records contain significant documents that include the Association's by-laws, both in the initial (1981) and revised form (1990), the original deed to the land comprising Castlewood/Oak Valley (1971), and various deed restrictions pertaining to COVNA and the properties adjacent to it. In addition, individual subseries have been maintained for maps and correspondence (1981-1995), preserving the original order in which these documents were kept and received.
The Neighborhood Planning and Concerns (1979-1998) series presents a detailed paradigm of the issues and concerns faced by an Austin neighborhood during a time of tremendous growth and development in the Austin area. The records are arranged according to the respective issues and include Zoning/ Land Development (1981-1994), Wastewater Treatment Plants (1979-1981, 1984), Annexation to the City of Austin (1984-1985), Drainage Improvements/Sewer Installation (1988-1991), Natural Gas Service (1988, 1992), the Neighborhood Watch Program, Street Lighting, and Oak Wilt Disease (1991-1995). The Oak Wilt subseries has the single largest amount of material and contains materials related to COVNA's Oak Wilt Fund as well as for Cool Communities, a federal tree-planting project affiliated with the Environmental Protection Agency. Notable documents in these series include a certificate of commendation from the City of Austin to COVNA members for their participation in the oak wilt project, a copy of a bill passed through Texas Legislature concerning protection and management of the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone, documentation of efforts to prevent annexation to the city in 1984 and 1985 and voter registrations of neighborhood residents voided in the first City election following annexation, and a letter to state representative Sherri Greenberg (September 18, 1995) presenting a broad sketch of COVNA's battles in receiving city services from its inception to date.
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Castlewood/Oak Valley Neighborhood Association Records (AR.1997.011). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.
Donor #: DO/1997/051
Donation Date: 1997
Collection arranged by Jennifer Strange and Christopher Rogers in 1997. Finding aid encoded and updated by Mallori White in 2017.
Detailed Description of the Collection