It appears that the lawsuit between Riverside-Brookfield High School District 208 and the village of Brookfield is headed to trial.

The only consensus reached at the two-and-a-half hour settlement conference Thursday afternoon overseen by Cook County Circuit Court Judge Mary Mikva was that the village agreed to lift a stop work order issued last fall and let the high school finish constructing the long jump and pole vault areas just north of Hollywood School in time for this spring’s track-and-field season.

But there was no agreement about the main issue of the school’s desire to build a new parking lot on part of that land. No further settlement conferences are scheduled and both sides appear dug in for a long fight and are now engaged in a war of words.

Last year District 208 sued the village of Brookfield, claiming that the village board acted capriciously and arbitrarily when it 5 to 1 vote to deny a special use permit and two variances necessary to build a new parking lot and tennis courts on land the high school owns just north of Hollywood School.

The Village of Brookfield issued the first press release on Friday, stating it had made a settlement offer that would have allowed RBHS to build new tennis courts but not a new parking lot.

As part of its offer, the village said that it would extend the lease for the Rockefeller Avenue parking lot for 10 more years and would help the high school lobby the Chicago Zoological Society and Cook County to come up with additional parking.

“The district refused the village offer outright, demanded that the village sell Rockefeller to the district and made no concessions or counter proposals,” the village’s press release stated. “The RBHS district prefers to go to trial.

“The village is deeply disappointed in the approach the district has taken, but looks forward to presenting the case before Judge Mikva late this year or early next year. The village maintains that the decision to deny the parking lot was neither arbitrary nor capricious, as the district climes, but rather is a case of enforcing zoning code in a fair and representative manner following all due process.”

Playing hardball, the village says it will not renew the lease for the current Rockefeller Avenue parking lot if RBHS ultimately is allowed to build the new 91-space parking lot it desires.

The high school’s 10-year lease for the Rockefeller Avenue student parking lot expires in 2017. RBHS pays the village $13,905 to lease 108 spaces in the Rockefeller lot.

The village’s press release notes losing the 108 spaces in the Rockefeller lot would leave RBHS with a fewer parking spaces than they currently have, even if RBHS prevails in court and is allowed to build the new 91-space parking lot.

RBHS responded late Friday afternoon with a press release drafted by its attorney, criticizing the village for making the details of the settlement conference public and saying that the village’s press release was not fully truthful.

The school district contends it did submit a counter offer, though the details are not specified in the press release, and that it fully considered the village’s final offer.

“The school district is disappointed that the village has decided to depart from tradition by issuing a press release about the conference,” the school’s press release stated. “However, the district is even more disappointed that the village has misrepresented in the news release that the school district was unwilling to consider the village’s settlement proposal and that it did not make a counter-proposal.”

The school district also complained about the village’s threat of discontinuing the Rockefeller Avenue parking lease as a cudgel to get the high school to agree to the village’s offer.

“The district finds it incredible that the village continues to use the threat of taking away parking on Rockefeller Avenue to try to leverage a settlement of the litigation,” the RBHS press release stated. “The village is attempting to force the district into a choice between parking on its own property and parking on Rockefeller Avenue. While parking on both best serves the interests of the entire school community, the district’s choice, if forced to make one, is to assure parking on its own property so as not to be subject to the ebbs and flows of village politics.”

The ideal solution, states the school’s press release would be to permit parking on both school property and Rockefeller Avenue, “so as to adequately serve the needs of the school community and not push visitors to the school district onto residential streets.”

That is the solution the village rejected in 2015 when it voted to deny the zoning variances and special use permit.

This article has been edited to remove specific attribution to statements made in the village of Brookfield’s press release.

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