Officials from the Cook County Forest Preserve District and Brookfield Zoo have turned thumbs down to a request by Riverside-Brookfield High School for an easement for parking on forest preserve-owned property just north of the high school. 

RBHS had hoped to pave over a fire lane and put in 34 angled parking spaces just north of the school on a field owned by the forest preserve district but used by the school. School officials had asked for the easement as a way of reducing the size of a controversial proposed parking lot alongside Hollywood Avenue.

But when District 208 Superintendent Kevin Skinkis met with forest preserve district and zoo officials for about an hour on Monday afternoon, he was told that the easement will not be granted. 

Despite the easement being rejected, Skinkis said county officials are still willing to work with RBHS as it looks for ways to expand parking. 

“Right now it looks as if the easement along the north side of the school that was originally requested is off the table,” Skinkis said Monday. “However, I’m optimistic that we’ll be able to work out a solution, maybe in some other areas or some usage agreement.”

Other possibilities being explored are moving the zoo’s south entrance gate a little bit further north to expand parking for RB or using a gravel parking lot inside the zoo. RBHS’s current faculty parking lot is on zoo property, which the school rents.

“At this time, there has been no decision,” Skinkis said. “The zoo and the forest preserves are going to check into a couple things, but I walked away from the meeting very optimistic, and I felt like the zoo and the forest preserves are trying to work with the high school to solve this problem.”

—Bob Skolnik