At the most recent Flower Mound Town Council meeting, the council approved Argyle ISD’s request to add more than 400 new parking spaces at Argyle High School, but the decision was not unanimous.
Earlier in June, the town’s Planning & Zoning Commission unanimously recommended approval of the district’s request to add 412 new parking spaces, which would give the campus a total of 1,276. A district representative told council that the student parking lot started to overflow during this school year, and some students had to use the new Argyle ISD administration building’s parking lot on campus. The district believes it needs more parking for projected enrollment growth and events, and the requested 412 new spaces should be enough for the next three to five years. In May, voters approved a bond election to build a new stadium on the AHS campus, and the school expects to add more students and classrooms in the near future, so this 412-space request certainly won’t be the district’s last.
No residents voiced any protest against the request. One councilman, Jim Engel, compared the school’s request to a proposal that was denied in April for the Cross Timbers Business Park, a 10-building, 3.3-million-square-foot warehouse park on 263 acres adjacent to Argyle High School’s campus in Canyon Falls. He called out the hundreds (if not thousands) of Canyon Falls area residents who strongly opposed the proposed warehouses (for a litany of reasons, one of which was tractor-trailer traffic) for not also opposing Argyle ISD’s request for more parking and a previous request for a 57-foot-tall auditorium.
“The irony of the mixed messages that come out around this school and this area is amazing to me,” Engel said during the June 20 meeting. “We had a project that came before us a couple months ago and we had 300 people a night here who were objecting to a 60-foot-high warehouse when they had no objection to 57 feet (auditorium) … and they were concerned with traffic and how much traffic they were going to get in their neighborhood, which was a valid concern.
“We have a request here for 1,276 parking spaces … that’s 2,500 trips all through Canyon Falls,” Engel continued. “I’m just kind of amazed with that. I think if you’re concerned about traffic, we turn this down. And now you’re talking about building a stadium with having 2,000+ parking places, I think this is a problem.”
Councilman Brian Taylor countered Engel by pointing out that “those cars are going to be there anyway.”
“They’re either going to park in the parking lot or in the street,” Taylor said.
“If you’re saying ‘You’re not going to park here,’ what other kind of problems will happen?” Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Ann Martin rhetorically asked Engel. “They’d have to park off-site or bus people in … We also can’t want it both ways. We want residential growth, that means more children in schools, that means more parking.”
Martin also contrasted the school traffic with tractor-trailer traffic that would be associated with the warehouses, and Engel said most of the warehouse traffic would not enter Canyon Falls, but would stay on FM 1171 and a separate road built by the developer.
The request was then called to a vote and Engel voted against it, but all other council members voted in favor, approving the parking lot request.
Engel said this week that he still thinks the council should have denied the request, which he called “excessive.” When asked what he thinks the school should do to address overflowing parking lots, rather than add new parking spaces, Engel said “I guess that’s something that they would have to manage.”
Engel also said he thought it was “kind of crazy” that Argyle ISD, a fast-growing district, wants significantly more parking than town standards for a school its current size.
“They were requesting 65% above the parking requirement for the size of that school,” he said. “It was considerably more parking than what exists at either Flower Mound High or Marcus for comparative number of rooms and students, etc.”
Engel said he’s worried that with the projected enrollment growth in Argyle ISD and the new stadium coming soon, the current Argyle High School site “might have been poor location for that school to be located, if it’s going to have that much traffic.”