The village of Brookfield and Riverside-Brookfield High School, already battling each other in court, are now at odds over recent construction work being done on the field just north of Hollywood School.

The property is owned by RBHS District 208, but the work that’s taking place is not permitted, according to the village of Brookfield. Contractors working for RBHS have laid a new long concrete strip for a pole vault runway right next to Hollywood School.

“The work in question requires a special-use amendment as it is not in substantial conformance with the existing previous use,” said Brookfield Village Manager Keith Sbiral in an email on Monday. “The village attorney has been contacted and has communicated this to RBHS.”

Sbiral said that as of Monday afternoon District 208 had not applied for a special-use permit.

He said that RBHS could be required to rip out the concrete if they do not get a permit.

“Work they are currently doing is at their own risk,” Sbiral said. “They could have to tear it out.”

Not surprisingly, RBHS has a different view.

District 208 Superintendent Kevin Skinkis contends that the school does not need a special-use permit, because the school previously used the field for track-and-field events, so the use of the field has not changed. In the past, the field was used for the shot put and discus competitions. Skinkis referred further questions to the district’s attorneys. 

The attorney for the school district says that while the village’s attorney has communicated Brookfield’s position to her, the village has not issued a stop work order.

“At this point, the district questions the village’s contention that a special-use permit is necessary for the work that it is doing for the track-and-field facilities,” said Nicki Bazer, an attorney with the Franczek Radelet law firm. “We have reached out to the village’s attorney, and we’ve asked for their specific reasoning or information behind their position on this.”

Bazer said Tuesday morning that she has yet to get a response from the village’s attorney.

“I’m assuming we’ll get a response and we’ll review it. Then we would expect that we would have further discussions with the village’s attorney about this,” Bazer said. 

This issue is just the latest disagreement between RBHS and the village of Brookfield. Skinkis and the school board wanted to build a parking lot and tennis courts on the same property, but last spring the village board voted 5 to 1 against granting the variances and special-use permit that RBHS had sought. 

RBHS then sued to the village in Cook County Circuit Court, claiming that the village board’s decision was arbitrary and capricious, because the village’s Planning and Zoning Commission had unanimously voted to recommend that the village board grant the variances and special-use permit RBHS sought. The case is pending.

The school district’s plans have upset many who live close to the school and who liked access to the field. They also worried about additional traffic and congestion that a new parking lot would create. 

But now access to the field has been cut off and is a construction site. The land is surrounded by a fence and the grass has been torn up and destroyed. There are two large piles of dirt and one pile of rocks. No longer can neighbors and their children walk their dogs, fly kites or play on the field.

“I think when the district and school board started unauthorized and unpermitted work, they are no longer serving the needs of the community in which they serve and are no better than a schoolyard bully,” said Hollywood resident Keith Pearson in an email.

Some Hollywood residents contacted the village board and complained about the work done on the field.

Underneath the field a new, large storm water detention vault that is expected to reduce flooding the area after heavy rains. The vault will be able to hold 35,626 cubic feet of water. The vault measures nearly 109-by-64 feet.

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