Once upon a time, St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church housed an elementary school, so it had playground equipment that was age-appropriate.
Today, the Montessori campus caters to preschoolers and kindergartners, so the playtime needs have changed. The school’s office manager, Julie Aidy, began researching playground designs roughly eight years ago.
“It’s really important to me to make this a natural space,” Aidy said of the plans that include a crawl tube decorated like a log as well as slides in neutral — as opposed to primary — colors.
The church sits at the southwest corner of Lovers Lane and North Central Expressway, right on the edge of University Park. That city’s Planning and Zoning Commission has recommended approval of the school’s plans to level a courtyard, expand the playground, and build a wooden fence that would abut the masonry wall along the frontage road.
But those plans came to a screeching halt before the City Council this month.
“The church won’t let us beautify the intersection at Lovers Lane, but we’re letting them build this 8-foot cedar fence?” Councilman Bob Clark asked during the work session before the July 16 meeting.
About a year and a half ago, University Park officials proposed an “intersection beautification” project that would have included part of the church’s property, near the entrance. The church denied the request, and City Council members haven’t forgotten.
“We have a little bit of concern when we can’t work together,” Mayor Dick Davis said during the July 16 meeting.
The school has about 100 students, mainly from Park Cities and Preston Hollow families, Aidy said. In conjunction with the church, those families feel the issue is worth fighting for; the school board hopes to meet with the city in order to move forward.
“We don’t want this to be an adversarial relationship,” Aidy said. “We want to work with the city to have it approved.”
The issue isn’t off the table entirely — the council did not vote to deny the church’s plans; they simply took no action. Robbie Corder, University Park’s community development director, estimates the item will be back on the agenda in mid-September.