It’s been about a year since Riverside-Brookfield High School completed construction of its new football field/running track complex, and it sure looks great from the outside. That track would sure be a great place for local residents to work out.

But on the advice of their attorney, District 208 officials have determined that the entire athletic complex, including the running track, must be off limits to the general public until the resolution of a lawsuit pending in Cook County Circuit Court.

The lawsuit has nothing to do with running tracks or working out. It has to do with a parking lot the school district didn’t get approved, resulting in the school district suing the village of Brookfield.

The two sides apparently are trying to settle this thing without a judge having to rule on the matter, but the suit has been dragging on and, in the meantime, residents of the district are being shut out of a public facility.

There’s a construction staging area that is located on the former tennis court area in the far northwest corner of the property at the corner of Rockefeller and Hollywood avenues, which is owned by the high school. 

The theory is that the area is somehow an attractive nuisance that would be too much to resist by adults in running shoes and spandex, and so the gates to the track are locked to keep people out.

Of course, this hasn’t prevented some people (families, even) to hop the fence – with bicycles – to ride around the track. We agree that’s something that shouldn’t be tolerated, but we’d surmise those folks would have done that whether a construction staging area existed or not. 

With turnstiles limiting entry to pedestrians, it’s clear that bikes are not allowed. How allowing people in via the turnstiles creates a greater liability risk is unclear to us. People who go there to run the track or use the football field are going there for those reasons.

If there’s concern about people getting into the staging area, do a better job securing it and posting signage stating whatever danger exists for those that enter. That, it would seem, would clear up any liability concern.

In the meantime, what it looks like to residents who pay taxes to support the high school is that they are being shut out for no good reason other than District 208 and the village of Brookfield are having a stare-down.

We can see no risk in letting members of the community use a running track that was was first improved a decade ago when district residents generously opened their wallets and approved a referendum to do so.

It appears punitive to shut those residents out simply because of a pending lawsuit that has nothing to do with the track itself. The optics on this are bad and the liability concerns overstated.