HPNA Minutes – June 2015

Co-President Kevin Heyburn called the May meeting of the Hyde Park Neighborhood Association to order at 7:09 PM at the Hyde Park Theater on 43rd Street.

The first item on the agenda was the consideration of a resolution asking the city to select Hyde Park as one of the four areas to evaluate potential Code Next changes. Co-President Lorre Weidlich presented the resolution on behalf of the Steering Committee. If Hyde Park is accepted, none of these changes would be adopted earlier, but it would allow evaluation and understanding of the impact of the changes on zoning within the neighborhood.   Analysis would likely be shared with the Hyde Park Neighborhood Planning Contact Team and the HPNA would coordinate any analysis of the proposals with the Contact Team. The resolution was adopted 34 for, none against, and no abstentions.

The next item on the agenda was a resolution supporting the application of the Griffin School for a variance to allow the school enrollment to increase to 125 students. In particular, the school is seeking a variance regarding street width. City code requires that private schools be located on 40’ wide streets. Two of the streets that the Griffin School is located on are 27’ and one is 30’ wide.

Adam Wilson, Head of the Griffin School, presented some background on the request and the school. The Griffin School is a 9-12 grade college preparatory school that has been operating about 20 years, including 17 years in Hyde Park or in the Hyde Park area. When the school moved into the current location, the school applied for a conditional use permit that restricted enrollment to about 65 students. The current enrollment of the school is 93 students and thus it needed a new conditional use permit.

Since the original conditional use permit was issued, the school has worked to get more parking, which was a key issue with the original restricted enrollment. The school has since reached an agreement with Ridgetop Baptist Church to provide off-site parking. The Griffin School has been meeting with its immediate neighbors to address any concerns that they might have. Some initial proposals include entering into a restrictive covenant with the HPNA, limiting student parking to off-site parking only, one-way flow of traffic on Martin and Evans streets from the school for drop-off and pick-up, and enrollment verification.

Several neighbors spoke against supporting the variance. Several issues were raised about increased traffic, additional people in the neighborhood, and the school being out of character with the neighborhood. Concerns were also raised about issues that might arise if the school loses its current parking situation. Supporters of the variance raised the points that the increase is only about 30 more students than current enrollment and that the Griffin School has a long history of support for the neighborhood and a history of working with its neighbors to address any concerns.

The resolution passed 27 for, 4 against and 5 abstentions. It was noted at this time that Kathie Tovo was in attendance.

The next item on the agenda was a presentation by Ken Webster regarding the Hyde Park Theater. The theater holds about 75 people and typically has about 15 shows per year. Normally, a show runs every weekend during the year. The theater hosts Frontera Fest during January and February, which supports independent and small producers and playwrights. The contest has two different groups: Small Fringe, which is typically less than 25 minutes, and Long Fringe, which is less than 90 minutes. The theater focuses on American, Canadian, and Irish producers and playwrights. The theater has won numerous awards, including two acting awards this year for one of their earlier productions.

Finally, the meeting ended with announcements. Kevin announced that the Steering Committee would be meeting on June 8th at 7 PM at Trinity United Methodist Church. Additionally, the Board of Adjustment is meeting on June 8th at 5:30 to discuss, among other things, the variance for the Griffin School. The DRC is meeting on June 4th at 7 PM. Planning has begun for the Hyde Park Homes Tour. The committee is always looking for new volunteers to help with putting on the tour. The tour will likely be the first weekend in November. The opening party for Shipe Pool will be June 20th and will include food vendors, a movie, and possibly a puppet show. All are welcome to attend. A bench is being installed at Huffstickler Green by the Park’s department. Kevin adjourned the meeting at 8:45 PM.