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?