Relations between the Riverside-Brookfield High School and the village of Brookfield reached a new low Tuesday afternoon when the village ordered posted a stop work order on the fence along Rockefeller Avenue near the field where RBHS has been constructing pole vault and long jump runways and pits.
The village says the work that RBHS has been doing on the field requires a special-use permit.
“The village has an obligation to enforce our zoning ordinance regulations, and as a result of our obligation to do that we had to issue the stop work order to make sure that the construction being done complies with our zoning code,” said Brookfield Village Manager Keith Sbiral.
Sbiral said that on Oct. 10 the village’s attorney notified a lawyer for RBHS that the school needs a special-use permit to do construction work on the field just north of Hollywood School, which is owned by the high school.
RBHS officials contend that since they previously used the field for shot put and discus competitions, the pole vault and long jump runways and pits are not a change in the use of the field. The village disagrees.
Permanent concrete runways have been built for the pole vault and long jump areas while the shot put and discus used small portable slabs.
On Wednesday, no work was being done at the site. If the high school doesn’t comply with the stop work order, the village could opt to levy fines of up to $750 a day, Sbiral said.
Asked if the school district was going to comply with the stop work order, District 208 Superintendent Kevin Skinkis replied, “The construction schedule for that part of the project has a built in break to allow the concrete to set. The district will use this time to continue to make efforts to engage in a productive dialogue with the village.”
Skinkis said the village had been aware of the plans to use the field for pole vault and long jump and had no raised objections until recently.
“We were never informed that this requires a special-use permit,” Skinkis told the District 208 school board Tuesday evening. “The pole vault and long jump were always on the Phase Two plans and on the plans for all the zoning commissions and the village meeting, and we never were informed that we needed a special use permit.
“We were notified last week and told to stop work. Our attorney contacted the village’s attorney and asked for further clarification and we did not receive any communication back from the village.”
RBHS continued the work even after they were informed that needed a special-use permit. But on Tuesday, the village secured two orange “stop work” notices on the gate giving entry to the field.
Some school board members were upset that the village never responded to the request from RBHS’s attorney to discuss and matter and to get an explanation of the village’s position. The school first learned of the village’s position via email.
That, and the failure of the village’s attorney to contact RBHS’s attorney, particularly riled school board member Garry Gryczan.
“They can’t pick up a phone?” Gryczan asked.
Gryczan and school board member Tim Walsh, both of whom live in Riverside, complained about the village’s action at Tuesday’s meeting.
Sbiral said he has not been in direct contact with school officials, because he felt that communication should be done through the attorneys because of an ongoing lawsuit involving the two parties.
Last spring, the Brookfield village board voted 5 to 1 to deny RBHS’ request for a special-use permit and variances to build a parking lot and new tennis courts on the field. District 208, in turn, filed a lawsuit against the village of Brookfield, seeking to overturn the village board’s decision.
RBHS officials have indicated an interest in settling the lawsuit, but say that the village has not been willing to compromise.