With the goal of adding another layer of safety and security to our campus, Episcopal School of Jacksonville is currently working to create a better-planned school entrance to its Munnerlyn Campus on Atlantic Boulevard. A new entrance was one of many improvements we sought to address in our most recent $17 million capital campaign, an effort that funded new or renovated facilities on our two campuses, as well as endowment growth.
The school has made the decision to upgrade our current entrance to include a security booth with security personnel present. Episcopal has been advised by numerous experts that this planned entrance would provide an improvement in tangible security as well as a deterrent based on an increased security presence.
The new guardhouse will also provide an additional point of welcome to the campus. This upgrade will have no impact on the number of vehicles entering or leaving the campus. The guardhouse will not be gated, but will provide a noticeable check-in point for all visitors to the school’s campus. Most important, according to the survey on file with the city of Jacksonville, the security house is located on school property.
The new guardhouse has been purposely designed to be a stopping point for those heading down Munnerlyn Drive or St. Elmo Drive. This small structure is not intended to render the campus impermeable, but to provide an additional layer of security on top of many other existing procedures in place for the safety of our students, faculty and staff. Residents and visitors heading down St. Elmo will be able to do so without inconvenience, as they will have a separate access lane. Live Oak Lane, a city street that is not part of Episcopal’s entryway, will continue to provide an additional access road into the neighborhood from Atlantic Boulevard.
The school (a 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded by the Vestry of St. John’s Cathedral) is reliant on generous donors to improve its campus and support its mission. We are deeply grateful to the donors who have given the school the funding to improve the entrance from a safety and landscaping perspective.
Just as the school has had to do for every new development project on campus, we have worked with civil engineers and the planning department at the city of Jacksonville to create a plan in accordance with city ordinances and traffic regulations. The city of Jacksonville did not recommend a traffic study based on the plan submitted by the school.
Episcopal pays property taxes on several buildings it owns in the neighborhood. Episcopal has a vested interest in the safety, beauty and property value of homes in the neighborhood and makes sure proper upkeep and care is taken of its real estate.
Just as our neighbors live in this area and care greatly about it, so do we at Episcopal. This area of Jacksonville is our home. When Mary Packer Cummings willed this property to St. John’s Cathedral in 1912, she intended it to house an institution dedicated to the care and development of our young people. During the school’s 50-plus year existence, we have endeavored to make improvements to our campus and grow with a thoughtful consideration toward our environment and our community.
As Live Oak and St. Elmo are city streets, we will collaborate with our neighbors and work with the city to make improvements they feel are needed for safety and security as well. All safety measures, including speed limit signs and sidewalks, can only improve our neighborhood, and the school has offered to help fund such improvements.
Episcopal will continue to communicate with all families in the school community regarding safe driving speeds as well as safety and security procedures for pick up and drop off. The school will also work closely with the city to abide by all permitting standards and regulations, and we will continue working toward partnership with our neighbors in collective support for the betterment and safety of our neighborhood and campus.
Read a neighbor’s op-ed opposing the project here.