Tennis courts may remain at Riverside-Brookfield High School after all. Last week District 208 Superintendent Kevin Skinkis unveiled a new proposal to add more parking that would keep tennis courts on the RBHS campus.
The plan calls for constructing five new tennis courts on the field south of the present tennis courts. Previous proposals that have called for building a parking lot on the field have drawn fierce opposition from residents of the Hollywood section of Brookfield.
Under previous proposals, the tennis courts would be moved to North Riverside under an intergovernmental agreement with that village.
A new draft plan released at last week’s District 208 school board meeting showed a 75-space parking lot to be constructed where the present tennis courts are located. Five new tennis courts would be built immediately south of the new parking lot, leaving a buffer of about 35 feet between the tennis courts and Hollywood School.
“I like this solution here,” said District 208 school board President Matt Sinde.
The new plan calls for RBHS would lose one tennis court, since the school currently has six tennis courts. Lights would be installed to make sure that team competitions could be completed in one day with five courts.
Skinkis said that the lights could also illuminate the new parking lot but would not disturb the homes across the street on Hollywood Avenue.
The grass field just north of Hollywood School is used for football practices and, in the spring, for shot put and discus competitions and practice. If the new parking lot and tennis courts are built, the shot put and discus area would be moved to the fields directly north of the high school.
Residents of Hollywood, particularly those who live close the school, also use the field for recreation and have vocally expressed their desire to preserve the field as open space. Residents have also vehemently opposed building a parking lot right next to Hollywood School.
While the new proposal appears less objectionable than the previous one, some residents are still not happy about losing the green space.
“I’m not satisfied,” said Martha Carlson, an RBHS parent who lives about half a block away from the proposed new parking lot.
Carlson said that she expected the distance between the tennis courts and Hollywood School would end up being less than 35 feet. She said that noise from the tennis courts would be disruptive to students at Hollywood School if the tennis courts are used when school is in session.
But Carlson did admit the new proposal is better than the previous proposal.
“It is better than having the parking 24 inches from the wall,” Carlson said.
Carlson was not convinced by reassurances that the lighting for the tennis courts would not affect people who live across the street on Hollywood Avenue.
“I think that’s wrong to think that it would be OK to be lighting those tennis courts,” Carlson said. “Even in my house we have lights from the football stadium that shine into our bedroom window until 10 or 11 at night occasionally. It is disruptive and bad neighbor behavior.”
Carlson also questioned the need for more parking at RBHS, saying the school should discourage kids from driving.
“My 11 year old walks a mile or rides his bike a mile and back every day across First Avenue to the junior high,” Carlson said. “You can’t say that kids who are in athletics can’t not drive to the school.”
Hollywood residents have also complained that paving over the green field, whether for tennis courts or for a parking lot, would worsen an already bad flooding situation.
Sinde said that any plan that the school board approved must also be approved by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, which would make sure that drainage and flooding concerns are addressed.
Hollywood resident Greg Fleischman presented a plan to the school board calling for RBHS and the Brookfield Zoo to share use of zoo’s south parking lot and the Rockefeller Avenue parking lot through a system of multiple gates that could be open or closed depending on whether the zoo or the high school had a high demand for parking at any particular time.
“If we could get them to agree with it, it would be fabulous,” said school board member Ed Jepson. “That’s the big question.”