HP Presbyterian Posts Lot Updates Online

So earlier this week, I plugged the blog site of a neighborhood group that opposes construction of a new parking lot at Highland Park Presbyterian Church. To be fair, you should probably see this, too, from HPPC — it’s a newly updated project page (from whence I lifted the illustration above) full of plans that will be distributed in hard copy to churchgoers.

Thoughts?

19 thoughts on “HP Presbyterian Posts Lot Updates Online

  • May 7, 2010 at 3:39 pm
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    When I first heard “surface parking lot” I wondered how that would blend into the neighborhood. University and McFarlin are cool streets and HPPC itself should have landmark status if it doesn’t already. Now that I see the plans though I’m wondering how are you even going to know that there is a parking lot there behind the homes? It’s a very good design, like “Stealth Parking”.

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  • May 7, 2010 at 4:31 pm
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    I agree. Much better than I envisioned.

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  • May 7, 2010 at 5:20 pm
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    Actually very attractive … especially as far as parking lots go!

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  • May 7, 2010 at 6:37 pm
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    My opinion about the parking lot. (yes I work at HPPC and live across the street from the church)

    1. I hope to teach my kids to drive there someday.
    2. Since my kids are still young we will skateboard, ripstick and rollerblade there now.
    3. I love our neighbors and hope this all gets figured out with minimal pain.
    4. I would like someone to build me a pool in my backyard.

    🙂

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  • May 7, 2010 at 6:56 pm
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    The comments that have been posted here so far are clearly church schills.

    The design is flawed and the processes employed by the church is perhaps the most un-Christian series of acts I have witnessed. The church leadership and the Elders (almost none of whom live in the impacted community) have behaved appallingly toward those that live in sight of the proposed structure.

    If the church is serious about a parking structure they need to tear down the terrible houses they wish to keep, based on the current plan. What they are not telling the world about these run down properties is that they produce rental income. Of course they don’t want to tear them down and lose income.

    I only hope that the church realizes what a galvanizing force it has become. Every Elder and member of the church should be ashamed and seriously ask themselves if they believe the scripture and the notion of “do unto others…”

    Fred

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  • May 7, 2010 at 7:27 pm
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    It is DANGEROUS driving down University now when any activities are going on at the church. I don’t mind saying I live in the neighborhood, and support the plan with its “stealth” parking lots.

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  • May 7, 2010 at 10:25 pm
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    As the first three commentators said, not as bad as I would have expected. However, I don’t get a vote. I don’t live in that neighborhood. The neighbors get to decide if they will allow the zoning to change. P&Z, do -not- be swayed by the grand old church. Do -not- start negotiating. P&Z, it is indeed ok to simply say “no”. You can say “no, that’s single family zoned and that’s what it is going to stay”.

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  • May 7, 2010 at 10:31 pm
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    Fred Smith you should be ashamed of yourself. This can not been an easy decision for the church and shirley they do not wish to be deceptive. HPPC seems to be working very hard to make a design that is acceptable to the community around them. Of course humans are flawed but you have thrown the entire lot out and made them sound like they do not care at all about the neighborhood. I seriously doubt that! The plan seems reasonable, and I live in the neighborhood, so I am directly affected. I have no problem with you disagreeing with the plan but to make the entire church sound evil is ridiculous. “Do unto others” goes both ways.

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  • May 7, 2010 at 11:10 pm
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    The fact is that this area has always been zoned residential and it should remain that way. Ask any church, real estate developer, shopping center owner, etc, and they will tell you they want more parking places. That’s to be expected. But turning residential areas into parking lots is not the answer. Don’t we all live in the Park Cities because of its beautiful homes and parks, and the neighborly feel of the community? A parking lot will detract from the beauty of this community, no matter how you think it may be hidden. Traffic in that area will surely increase. The church can use HPHS’s parking garage on Sundays and keep this area a lovely residential community for all. Stay strong, P&Z and City Council. You DO NOT have to approve this rezoning!

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  • May 8, 2010 at 7:26 am
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    The plans are deliberately misleading. They show lots of mature, 25-30 foot trees. Then when you read the tiny type it says the trees MIGHT be as small as 4 inches in diameter. Look at the plans where it says “ALTs” as in alternates, as in this is what we will really be getting, not the lovely green swathed illustration. Also notice that that new curvy wall goes right up against that first house on University. That’s going to look unbalanced and terrible. And have you considered that this large area has to be lit for a good portion of the night? It’ll be like a Walmart parking lot.

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  • May 8, 2010 at 9:04 am
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    It’s obvious the church is trying to make this parking lot look as good as possible. They have to. Anyone who actually thinks this is what it will eventually look like is being naive. In any real estate development project the plans designed to get the concept sold in are always different from what eventually happens. Budget limitations, code adherence and property issues all conspire to reduce the plan to a sad version of the original concept. HPPC knows this. This plan is designed to convince. If you think this opinion is “shameful”, consider the “shameful” condition of the homes that the church currently owns and maintains. If you don’t believe me, take a walk past the block of dilapidated HPPC owned homes, particularly on McFarlin. Along the way, you’ll get a good view of the many signs from the over 300 neighbors who oppose this project.

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  • May 8, 2010 at 10:29 am
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    It seems that the precedent for this has already been set with the UPUMC parking lot. I don’t remember the neighbors in as big an uproar over them buying houses and eventually building a parking lot. Personally, I think their lot looks OK and I know it is beneficial to not only the church but also Hyer’s parents. Usually when I pass by there are kids riding bikes and scooters in there also, so the neighbors get some enjoyment too.

    Until I saw the plans, I didn’t know that the lot would be tucked behind homes that HPPC already owns. Is it really going to be a huge eye-sore for the neighbors? No one will see it or be contiguous to it. Did the neighbors know that there was a church in their immediate vicinity when they chose to live there? Probably since the church has been there longer than most of its current neighbors. Active vibrant churches involve traffic. You knew that when you chose to become their neighbor.

    I find it interesting that the neighbors jump to the worst possible scenario. I think the plans look really good – like others have said – much better than expected. HPPC is a beautiful building/property. Do you think it looks better or worse than it did on paper when it was originally conceived? My guess is that is looks much better. Maybe the parking lot will too.

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  • May 10, 2010 at 3:50 am
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    B: Yes, we did know that there was a church in our immediate vicinity when we chose to live here, and we realize that active vibrant churches involve traffic. We have no problem with churchgoers parking in front of our house on any day of the week; in fact, we even installed a stone walkway next to the curb so that people would not have to step in groundcovering as they got out of their cars. Indeed, the lacuna in your argument is your presupposition that traffic is the main issue, whereas in reality such a concern forms only the slightest part of the reasoning behind our opposition.
    What you, the church session, and others who support the parking lot seem not to understand is that we also realized that the entire 3900 block of McFarlin and University was zoned for single family homes. Are you aware of the effect that planned developments have on surrounding home values? In the words of at least two appraisers, values of neighboring houses will decrease “without doubt,” possibly by as much as twenty-five percent. I am disinclined to believe that you or any other individual would calmly acquiesce to the displacement of two neighboring families, the erection of an incongruous wall in place of houses across the street, and the loss of up to one quarter of your most important personal asset if such a possibility were imminent in your own backyard, yet you seem to have no qualms doing so when such a contingency affects only others.
    Levelheaded: I would be very reticent to tell anyone to be ashamed of himself were I not personally acquainted with all the details of the case at hand. Fred is not trying to “make the entire church sound evil,” and to construct such a straw man argument from his post is very spurious on your part. His comments do, however, attest to the frustration that many of the neighbors have felt over the last year regarding the church’s rather dismissive attitude our opinions, suggestions, and personal wellbeing. Are you aware that we submitted at least five alternative proposals—such as offering valet parking, petitioning the city to open dozens of new parallel parking places on side streets, and shuttling churchgoers from the nearby firehouse parking lot on Sundays—that were rejected without hardly a nod by church leadership? Are you aware that HPPC used to be over twice its current size but survived perfectly well without a parking lot across the street? You are of course free to pass shame wherever you please, but I would be sure that I were familiar with the entire dialogue that has transpired before doing so too liberally.

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  • May 10, 2010 at 1:23 pm
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    I live one block from church. A two minute leisurely walk. At 10:10 a.m. this past Sunday, I noticed that in front of my house, on 2/3 of my block there were many, many empty parking spaces on both sides. Again, there is NO NEED for additional parking.

    When we bought our home, we did NOT know that the church owned that entire block of houses. No sign was posted. No one announced it to us. This is a big, horrible, stressful surprise to most of us that the church could rip down homes right in front of ours and put up a parking lot.

    No matter how you illustrate it, it’s STILL A PARKING LOT and unwanted by 300 neighbors and growing. “Do unto others” appears just to be something HPPC teaches children in Sunday School, but feels no need to adhere to as adults.

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  • Pingback:Highland Park Presbyterian Has Filed to Rezone « Park Cities People

  • May 25, 2010 at 5:38 pm
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    I am a member of HPPC and agree with the homeowners that there is absolutely NO reason for this parking lot. Not only is it unnecessary given the reduced size of our congregation, I understand that cost estimates are at least $1.5 mm – which in my opinion makes it even more unnecessary. The loss of trees is awful, the additional traffic that our neighbors will deal with is awful and while the schematics are really lovely, I don’t believe for a minute that it will look like that for all the reasons stated above. There are many church members who do not live in the neighborhood who oppose this. However, from the church perspective, the decision has been made – the elders’ vote has been taken and general objections of members are no longer pertinent. The only way to stop it now is through P&Z. I agree with the posting above — P&Z needs to understand that it can just say no. I hope that they will.

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  • May 25, 2010 at 9:16 pm
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    I am a member of HPPC and a Park Cities Resident. I am glad that the church is trying to provide adequate parking. I have been a member for over twenty years and have struggled immensely with getting young children from the car to the church. Yes, it is a nice walk on a perfect day but not on the multiple days of 100 degree heat, rain, etc. You add high heels to the mix and it is particularly enjoyable. I have tried the shuttle, too. The city has also made many curbside parking spaces a “No Parking Zone” which has made it necessary to park even further away. The Park Cities has inadequate parking everywhere; SMU, Snider Plaza, etc. and it is getting very tiresome. I am very encouraged to see someone attempting to come up with a solution.

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  • May 25, 2010 at 11:47 pm
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    HPPC should use the HPHS parking facility and create a shuttle service for Sundays. It is a half a mile away. Go look at the new parking lot at St. Michael’s on Douglas Avenue. See how hideous that looks.

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  • June 7, 2010 at 6:26 am
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    Echo: There is availabe parking on the north side of the block on University between Westwick and Preston every Sunday. This is a 2 1/2 minute walk. Much less distance than from NEIMAN MARCUS to NORDSTORMS. There are many neighbors, like me, reporting open parking every sunday in front of their homes, one block away from HPPC.

    This uproar from the neighbors is not really about the parking lot. We are upset because of the potential RE-ZONING OF AN ENTIRE RESIDENTIAL BLOCK AND THE INEVITABLE LOSS OF TEN HOMES (some deemed “historical”) and FUTURE EXPANSION OF THE CHURCH campus. In a recent meeting with a neighbor, Rev. Scates did not even deny this. He said, well, if the church didn’t expand, we wouldn’t be sitting in the Hunt Building right now! You can bet that when HPPC gets the money, those houses are going to come down, and that block is going to look a whole lot different.

    Can’t you understand why we neighbors are horrified that HPPC, originally conceived as a “neighborhood church,” is now turning against its own neighborhood, by usurping an entire block in the heart of our city, on the main “showboat” boulevard? We have MANY HUNDREDS of residents now saying, we don’t want this, but the church has no problem ignoring us, and even worse, making it sound on their website that we are actually on board! We have asked Mark Story repeatedly to stop misrepresenting us as a compliant happy bunch–we are anything but! What kind of Christian values are they expressing with this dishonest, aggressive and selfish attack on our neighborhood? Love thy neighbor…except when you want something?!

    The worst case scenerio on the proposed parking-lot, by the way, has already been built by Rev. Scates’ church in Baltimore, when he was head pastor. At Central Presbyterian on York Street they took over park land and added a huge mass of concrete with a few scrawny trees, in spite of the neighbors “big uproar.” You can look at it for yourself an see what we fear, since at this moment HPPC does not have the funds for that pretty drawing you have been shown.

    Just go to Google Earth Maps, type in “7308 York, Baltimore,” and put the viewer into satellite mode. Zoom into the most NW parking lot–that is the one Scates installed. Not very pretty, and a huge scar on God’s planet.

    Echo, please buy yourself some cute flats and help save our neighborhood and the flagship and ONLY boulevard in U.P. God doesn’t care what you wear on your feet and Jesus is quite famous for walking everywhere in those great sandals. We would love your support and be forever thankful to church members willing to walk that extra minute or 2, once a week, in order to keep our neighborhood great!

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