Shade OK’d at University Park Elementary

Editor’s note: This story also appears in the Nov. 8 edition of Park Cities People.

Despite some neighbors’ objections, a shaded concrete pad will be added behind University Park Elementary School.

The University Park City Council on Tuesday approved the installation of a 20-foot-by-40-foot piece of concrete due west of the campus’s new sports court. The concrete will be shaded by a green awning attached to 10-foot poles.

Opponents of the “fabric shade structure,” as it was called in city documents, said it will make the elementary school look more like a used car lot or a flea market. Consequently, they are worried about how it will affect the value of their homes.

“Trees are a better long-term solution to providing shade for the school children and sports spectators than the proposed concrete pad and shade structure,” Stanford Avenue homeowner Ed DeLoach said. “Trees look better and are more environmentally friendly.”

But principal Lynda Carter said the structure is needed on her crowded campus. University Park Elementary serves more than 700 students and may house 800 in the near future, Superintendent Dawson Orr said.

“The teachers had ex-pressed a need for some outdoor instructional surfaces as well that were covered and protected from the sun,” Carter said.

Carter and her staff tugged at the council’s heartstrings on Tuesday. Nurse Jenny Castellaw said a shaded area will allow her “medically fragile” students to interact with their peers outdoors. And second-grade teacher Kellison Golden brought up the dangers of skin cancer before revealing — after a 30-second pause — that she has been battling Stage 4 melanoma.

“Those with fair skin only need to be in the sun for 10 minutes to cause damage,” Golden said. “Recess is anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes.”

Before the final vote, Councilman Tommy Stewart proposed that the school and its neighbors put their heads together to come up with a more aesthetically pleasing solution. Bob Begert seconded the motion, but no one else supported it.

The proposal has been altered as it has made its way through the Planning and Zoning Commission and the City Council. Originally, the concrete pad would have been 24 feet by 42 feet, with the awning posted 14 feet above the ground. The school also shifted the pad site to the south a bit, so one of four cedar elm trees can be planted directly to its north. In time, that tree will presumably make it harder for neighbors on Amherst Avenue to see the green awning, which originally was going to be the same color as the school.

When the city sent notification letters to neighbors, it got 19 responses — 15 opposed to the shaded pad and four in favor of it. But by Tuesday, five of the 15 opponents had changed their tune. One of them was Lathram Pou, whose house on Amherst faces the back of the school.

“I understand progression is tough,” Pou said. “But with a design that includes the planting of more trees, myself and … other neighbors have removed our objections.”

Rodger Jayroe, who owns a house on Amherst, brought up the “amazing” amount of concrete behind the school; there’s not a blade of grass between the sports court and the caretaker’s house.

Councilman Bob Clark asked whether all of the existing concrete was necessary. Orr said he was not willing to discuss that until the district’s architects present a master plan for dealing with growth.

“I’m simply not in a position to say we could remove concrete at this time,” Orr said. “I think a comprehensive look will be needed at that campus, as well as at Hyer, which also would be in need of expansion.”

9 thoughts on “Shade OK’d at University Park Elementary

  • November 8, 2013 at 11:34 am

    We are well on our way to becoming the Concrete Cities. I don’t understand the rush to install impermeable surfaces. Our city council and school district admin have approved measures that increase runoff downstream instead of choosing permeable environmentally friendly options. Kids need green, open spaces, not concrete pads. The middle school is filling in all the green spaces as well.
    An a reminder: you need some daily sunshine for your body to make natural Vitamin D. Spending recess under a tarp on a concrete pad sounds dreadful.

  • November 8, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    I’m still waiting for someone to give an example of any change, any new development in the PC that actually caused the value of the property around it to drop. It just keeps going up no matter what you do to it!

  • November 8, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    Maybe we are well on our way to becoming the Obama Cities. Not everything revolves around environmentalism. We live in the Park “Cities”, not the country. Concrete can be added and removed later if needed. Kids get plenty of daily sunshine & Vitamin D, I haven’t seen a single case of Vitamin D deficiency. I’ve yet to see where an impervious surface has caused a SlumDog Millionaire event in the park cities. Yes, some pollution is a part of our lives, just like flooding, wild fires & hurricanes. If you want a true liberal, progressive, democratic lifestyle, move to California. They need residents who will sell their souls to the government and give all their hard earned wealth for the sake of the environment and society, not to mention someone who will pay all that debt they’ve incurred and need repaid. In short, trees grow, can be cut down, replanted and grow again……..

  • November 9, 2013 at 7:46 am

    I know what the Lorax would want.

  • November 12, 2013 at 10:36 am

    I was not making a political statement. Just happen to like trees and open grassy areas better than concrete, and would rather spend school money on hiring more teachers.

  • November 13, 2013 at 2:03 am

    I am making a political statement. Vote for Wendy Davis. How bout it, T-Bone?

    Also, good use of the word impervious.

    Also, by a “SlumDog Millionaire event,” I would both agree AND disagree with you. 1.) I would disagree, as such an event would be characterized by someone not born into wealth, becoming rich but by the use of life experience and an informal knowledge system, an inherited cultural capital. I would challenge your implied argument that all in the park cities are very wealthy, and none need to use intelligence and life experience to make it in our world. 2.) I would, however agree with you that due to the capitalistic personality which is bread into many of the individuals raised in the park cities, and most competitive Western societies, it is unlikely that many would give up the wealth, once obtained through the use of aforementioned life experience, for love (as was the case in the movie, the Slumdog Millionaire.) But, at the end of the day, your mind is probably “impervious” to new ideas.

    With love from the California of the mind,


  • November 13, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    Where can I get some capitalistic personality bread?

  • November 13, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    This is fun! My runoff thesis is based on the following:
    More concrete in UP = less water being absorbed into ground = more water into sewer = sewers overwhelmed downstream = Lower Highland Park and Dallas sewers break or overflow. It’s a real issue, and it’s why our town supposedly has a ratio for permeable vs. unpermeable areas on each lot. Maybe, schools are exempt, I don’t know.

    It’s not a political issue, just gravity.

  • November 14, 2013 at 11:43 am

    @BlackSnakeMoan: Right on. And I’m not even from California (or Texas).


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *