It’s unusual for anyone to negotiate the settlement of a lawsuit in public, but that’s what’s going on between the village of Brookfield and Riverside-Brookfield High School.
On Monday night, the Brookfield village board voted to direct its attorney to hand the school district its final settlement offer regarding the parking lot that RBHS would like to build on land that it owns north of Hollywood School.
That’s not so unusual, but the lengthy statement by President Kit Ketchmark prior to the vote was. In the statement, he stated the terms of the take-it-or-leave-it offer specifically and started the clock on the high school accepting it.
We understand that this is not the solution RBHS wanted when it embarked on its campaign to try to address what is an admittedly awful parking shortage whenever there are events of any note going on at the high school.
But there’s no solution that would be acceptable to either the village or the Hollywood neighborhood that would actually solve the parking shortage if it involved the construction of a massive parking lot in a residential area.
So, best-case scenario, the school district still is left with a partial solution. And if it ends up winning its lawsuit and the court grants the school the 91-space lot it wanted initially, it’s going to lose 108 spaces it now enjoys on Rockefeller Avenue. It will be a net loss of parking even if the school district wins.
There is no reason to believe the village of Brookfield is going to budge on the issue of Rockefeller Avenue, and it’s crucial to any parking plan the high school would like to create.
Add to all of that an offer by the village to lease Rockefeller Avenue to the high school for the next 20 years at $1 per year, and we don’t see how the high school can walk away from this.
Right now, the high school pays $13,000 per year for the use of Rockefeller Avenue.
The prospect of not having to pay that future lease cost, plus avoiding lengthy litigation will end up saving taxpayers, who are, after all, footing this bill. That is money that can be better spent on village services and education.
It won’t end the high school’s need to address parking in the future, but the village has also pledged as part of this deal to work with the high school to try to engage Brookfield Zoo in the conversation. Will that ultimately work? We don’t know, but if the high school and village remain adversaries, it won’t solve anything.
This is a sensible solution. The acrimony needs to end and the community and neighborhood have to be able to move on. We urge the RBHS Board of Education to accept the village’s offer, get their parking lot and tennis courts built and work with Brookfield in the future to continue to address the issue of parking near the high school.