Do we get what Riverside-Brookfield High School is doing from a strictly practical point of view? Sure. The high school board feels like they’re in a box.
They’ve been turned down in their requests to build a parking lot on their own land by the village of Brookfield. There’s zero likelihood that the Cook County Forest Preserve District is going to cede land to the school district for a parking lot.
And the one deal that’s been talked about as a possibility — the school district paving a gravel lot at the zoo in order to get more access to the zoo-owned lot next to the school — sounds pretty lame.
The way the school board looks at it, what choice do they have? But that isn’t the way the wider community is looking at it.
The community is going to look back to 2006 and think, “Hey, when the big renovation plans were floated back then, wasn’t a parking deck part of that deal? And isn’t that why the school felt comfortable getting rid of its old faculty parking lot behind the school in favor of a field house?
But the parking deck never materialized. The school was able to work out a deal with the village of Brookfield to turn a portion of Rockefeller Avenue into a parking lot to make up for the loss.
And now the school district is suing that village, which holds the keys to a new lease on that parking lot.
Honestly, we don’t see anything but expense coming from this lawsuit. The village board took a recommendation from its Planning and Zoning Commission and turned it down.
It’s something that happens all the time. The fact that village trustees didn’t explain their votes doesn’t nullify them, and the trustees’ decision, while it didn’t solve the school’s parking problem, did not make the situation worse.
To make matters worse, the message this action sends to the school’s neighbors in Hollywood is awful. So now we not only have the village and high school at odds, we have the high school at odds with its closest neighbors.
The optics, as they say, are not good. This is a bad idea.