The Riverside Elementary School District 96 Board of Education would really like to be able to build a playground that suits the needs of kids ranging in age from 3 to 12 at Hollywood School in Brookfield, which is where the district has its early childhood education program.
Right now there’s a playground at their disposal on land just south of the school parking lot. It’s designed for older kids, above the age of 5. The district wants to make it accessible for younger kids. The problem is that it doesn’t own the land and the owners of the land want a guarantee for when the playground will be built.
But the school district doesn’t want to commit to a particular plan until a committee studies the issue further. And, so, the school district and the property owner – which is the Hollywood Citizens Association – are at something of a standstill.
That’s fine. Different groups have different, legitimate agendas. We get that.
Now the school district has come forward with a proposal to buy the playground land and avoid the neighborhood spat. At first, the community organization balked at the offer. We’re not sure whether it was the general principle of selling off a valuable asset or the price offered, $25,000 plus closing costs and attorneys’ fees.
But, since the two sides met to discuss the offer in July, it appears that the Hollywood Citizens Association is at least up for putting the matter to its members. That’s the right thing to do.
We have no idea how all of this is going to turn out but, frankly, District 96’s pitch makes a lot of sense.
Hollywood School is really hemmed in. To the north, Riverside-Brookfield High School has built track-and-field facilities and to the south stands the Hollywood House. Heck, the elementary school doesn’t even own the driveway to its parking lot.
We have no idea whether $25,000 is a fair offer on the property the school district wants to buy, but it makes perfect sense that the school ought to be able to control what gets built and when.
And, the school district has far more resources to maintain the playground and property well into the future.
Just a couple of years ago, the Hollywood Citizens Association was considering what to do with its nearly century-old building, which is expensive to maintain given the small percentage of Hollywood residents who belong to the association.
Perhaps any money obtained from selling the property can be set aside for capital expenditures related to the Hollywood House.
Meanwhile, the school district has offered to open the school playground to the public in the event the association sells the property to them. When you take a closer look, it really does appear to be the win-win situation the new school superintendent described.
We’d encourage the school district and community association to keep the lines of communication open regarding this plan, even if it doesn’t pan out when the organization’s members meet to discuss the matter in September.