If voters in 2017 end up approving a referendum allowing Brookfield-LaGrange Park District 95 to build a new school for fourth and fifth grades on the campus of S.E. Gross Middle School, one of the challenges the district will face is where to store storm water runoff.
While that might not seem like a very interesting aspect of the plan, voters might be interested to know that the district has tentatively approached the village of Brookfield about including nearby Madlin Park as part of the solution.
Last week, District 95 Superintendent Mark Kuzniewski revealed tentative plans to locate a storm water detention facility — which would be required by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago — underneath Madlin Park, which is located at the corner of Lincoln and Madison avenues, kitty-corner from the middle school.
The district is also proposing to create an active recreation park above the underground storage. Tentatively, plans call for a three-lane running track surrounding a synthetic turf athletic field. There would also be room for a playground or other type of active recreation area on the site.
According to Kuzniewski, the track would be the same size as the one striped on the asphalt of the S.E. Gross playground. The athletic field would conform to AYSO standards for U-8 soccer and could also be used for interscholastic track-and-field meets.
The park would be open for public use when the school wasn’t using it, Kuzniewski said.
Brookfield Village Manager Keith Sbiral said that underground storage at Madlin Park could be a solution, and he added that the proposed park improvements fit in with the village’s strategic plan for its green spaces. The village of Brookfield and District 95 each own half of Madlin Park.
“I think it fits with our open-space plan,” Sbiral said. “It’s more of a neighborhood type park area and the improvements are in line with that plan.”
Plans for the proposed new building have not been released publicly yet. However, Kuzniewski said he’s shooting for a public reveal for the plan in early June.
“I would love to have a design by June 1,” Kuzniewski said. “When we’re ready to show pictures of the vision, I think people will be very happy.”
Constructing a new school would be only a portion of the entire scope of improvements being contemplated by the district. The roughly $30 million project would also include major renovations to S.E. Gross Middle School and Brook Park School, which have seen their enrollments spike in the past decade.
In 2006, the district’s enrollment stood at 935 students, according to the district’s report card issued by the Illinois State Board of Education. In 2015, the enrollment was 1,175 and next year it’s expected to top 1,200, said Kuzniewski.
“We’ve grown by one-third and we’ve added no space outside of the modular units [erected in 2015] at Brook Park,” Kuzniewski said.
Bringing two more grades to the S.E. Gross campus would also bring more staff, adding to an already existing parking issue. The school does not have enough onsite parking spaces for staff, whose vehicle spill over onto Broadway Avenue.
Kuzniewski said that part of the expansion at the S.E. Gross School campus would likely include a solution to the parking problem. He mentioned a remote parking site coupled with a shuttle bus to transport faculty to and from their vehicles. Where such a site would be located is unclear.
The school board is still looking to place a referendum on the April 4, 2017 consolidated election ballot.
The Brookfield Public Library is also contemplating a referendum to fund the construction of a new building. That vote could happen as early as this fall. A negative answer to the library would not change the school district’s plans, according to Kuzniewski.
“I don’t see anything derailing us from that,” Kuzniewski said. “Certainly a library is an important asset, but so are schools, roads, fire departments and police departments, and the community will prioritize those as they see fit.”
As for the school district’s plans, Kuzniewski said, “I think the community will realize the bang for the buck.”