Shul Center plans play garden on former Pandl's restaurant site

Tree house, science exploration stations to be part of playground

Sept. 21, 2011

Bayside - Although concerns were raised, the Village Board recently moved forward with a proposal by The Shul Center to install fencing and erect signage as part of a plan that includes constructing a playground.

Congregation Ahavat Yisroel, the organization overseeing The Shul at 8825 N. Lake Drive, came before the village's Architectural Review Committee in August and Village Board earlier this month. The organization sought approval for components of the so-called play garden that is being constructed at The Friendship Circle, a 2-acre community center, overseen by The Shul, for the Jewish community. It replaced the former Pandl's restaurant.

The play area, set amid the backdrop of the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, will include a toddler play area, tree house, wheelchair-accessible sand play area, a paved sports center and science exploration stations.

The Shul Center's proposal drew concerns from at least one nearby resident. Resident Sue Tannenbaum, whose residence abuts the play garden, said she was concerned about her property values.

"As this develops, there's going to be more noise, and I think my property values will go down," Tannenbaum said as she came before the Village Board on Sept. 8. "I'm requesting that a time limit be put on (the play garden). I taught kindergarten for 40 years. I know how kids are on playgrounds."

The board had a different perspective.

"It almost looks like a park back there," Trustee James Petersen said of The Shul's proposal. "I think your property values might increase."

Since the board was not properly noticed to take up hours of operation for the play garden, Village Attorney Chris Jaekels said hourly restrictions could not be taken up at the meeting. The Shul is permitted to operate The Friendship Circle between 6:45 a.m. and 10 p.m. The organization does not have permission to install lights outside the play garden, meaning the area would likely be vacated by dusk.

Representatives from The Shul have indicated the play garden will not operate more than six hours per week. The organization has been given a number of stipulations, including a caveat stipulating trees, shrubs and other plants be installed to serve as a buffer between the play garden and residential properties.

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