Where Could HPISD Put a New School?

Does any have any land in the shaded areas that they would like to sell?

This week’s front page includes my account of Tuesday’s Highland Park ISD board meeting, where the trustees were kicking around options for dealing with the district’s growing student population. They talked about building a fifth elementary school, constructing a kindergarten/preschool campus, and/or moving the football and baseball fields away from the high school. But nobody talked specifically about where more land could be acquired in the 6.2-square-mile district.

So let’s talk about it here. Off the top of my head, here are a few options:

  • The boondoggle commonly known as the Chase Bank building has been off everyone’s radar for a while. The University Park City Council has never agreed to any of Albert Huddleston’s plans for the tower at the corner of Hillcrest and Daniel avenues. Maybe the district could take it off his hands?
  • I’m told the Parks Department in University Park is responsible for about 60 acres’ worth of green space. Maybe the city could make do with only nine of its 10 parks. Do we really need two parks (Goar and Williams) right next to each other? And what about Caruth Park, which is halfway between two other parks (Curtis and Coffee) of comparable size? Perhaps that land is suitable for a school.
  • I realize I’m about to put a stick in a hornet’s nest, but I called the two churches that my gut tells me have the smallest congregations in the Park Cities. Staffers at Preston Road Church of Christ and First Unitarian Church of Dallas told me that each one averages about 500 parishioners per Sunday. (To put that in perspective, Park Cities Baptist Church averages 2,800.) Well, the district’s smallest elementary school, Armstrong, has an enrollment of 572 this semester. From my secular seat, the numbers show that a school would be a better use for either plot of land. Could the school district make either church an offer?
  • Let’s sacrifice an even more sacred cow by focusing on land the district already owns. Having an indoor practice field and tennis courts is nice, but having enough space to educate grade-schoolers is nicer. And it’s always seemed to me that the land occupied by the Seay Tennis Center and the Multi-Purpose Activities Center is about the size of an elementary school.

So, those are my suggestions. Your thoughts?

By Dan Koller Dec. 12, 2013 | 3:33 pm | 54 Comments | Comments RSS
  • JohnG

    Just to stick up for Coffee Park, I must report that it is my kids’ favorite. I prefer Abbott ever so sligthly but even I give the number 1 nod to Coffee if it has rained recently. Also – land use is a very complex issue with no single silver bullet solution. For example, take duplexes (is that the proper plural of duplex?). Duplexes aren’t new and aren’t necessarily a problem – They have been around in UP for quite some time, e.g. my previous 1947 on Normandy. Many an original duplex has been converted to single family, and many of the new ones are occupied by SMU students who don’t have kids to send to HPISD. Also, to a certain degree a broader mix of housing stock can add to the desirablility of a commmunity, overall property values and tax base.

  • Neal

    Unless I missed it, I am really surprised no one mentioned the Dallas Country Club golf course between Mockingbird and McFarlin. Not all of it, obviously. A city block-sized tract is all that is needed, probably at the intersection of Golf and McFarlin with the main entrances and exits on Golf. There would be a huge eminent domain fight with DCC, but no one would be put out of their home or deprived of their investment property, and neither of the two cities would need to give up a park. The purchase price would essentially be lot value. And the site has the advantage of being undeveloped. The designers could come up with an entirely new concept that would minimize traffic and make the most of the space. There could be a parking lot on the school property instead of the streets. Plus the geographic location is perfect – more or less equidistant to all the existing elementary schools.

  • Avid Reader

    @Neal, Someone mentioned something about DCC earlier, though not as detailed. There would be a bigger legal fight over DCC than Coffee park and probably even Caruth for that matter. Also, I’m sure all the members are stock holders of some kind and making the course a few holes short of 18 would probably deprive them of their investment.

  • 1st anon

    Other ideas:
    – Burleson Park
    – eminent domain over apartment complexes
    – apartment complex just north of Germany Park, across University Blvd.
    – Planning and zoning should increase the grass-to-concrete ratio, thus decreasing the size McMansions, and therefore the room for kid expansion
    – HPISD residents should support the idea of a separate “White Rock Independent School District”, which would take the pressure off of the desire to move to HPISD
    – pay us to leave. Cut us a check for the same expense-per-student, and I’ll either home school or find a private school. For that matter, every year, we get an email from Grapevine ISD asking us to come to their school district (yes, it’s legal to live in HPISD and go to another district if they have open enrollment)
    – turn the HP city hall temp location permanent, and turn the existing location into a school
    – Cut out the Youtube videos, ranting on by the teachers about their favorite football team, and other time-wasters, and make an efficient 4-hour education-filled school day. Hey, no cafeteria needed! My kids will take the morning shift, thank you.

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