Work to construct a new parking lot and five tennis courts at Riverside-Brookfield High School could begin by May 1 after the Brookfield Village Board voted 5 to 0 (Trustee Ryan Evans was absent) on Monday to approve a plan both sides had agreed to as a compromise after an almost two-year court battle.
School District 208 Superintendent Kevin Skinkis said the topic would be part of the school board’s Feb. 28 agenda and that officials would try to determine how changes to the plan may have affected bid prices the district received in 2015. The district would like to avoid having to re-bid the project.
“We’re trying to work with all of our vendors who originally bid on the project to see how close we are to original numbers,” Skinkis said in an interview after the village’ board’s vote. “We’re thinking that some of the reduction in size should help offset if there’s any change in cost.”
Skinkis said that officials hope the parking lot and tennis courts can be completed by Aug. 1, prior to the start of the 2017-18 school year. The tennis courts would swing into action almost immediately, since girls tennis is a fall sport in Illinois.
In addition to the tennis courts, the final plan calls for the construction of a 50-space parking lot plus room for three minibuses. The lot will essentially enlarge the existing 103-space parking lot along Rockefeller Avenue, which was created by the village in 2006.
As part of the compromise plan both sides agreed to in December, the school district will lease the Rockefeller lot for $1 a year for the next 20 years. The agreement also calls for the district to implement a car-pooling incentive and encourage students and staff to bike to school.
In contrast to the 91-space parking plan originally approved by the school board and recommended for approval by the Brookfield Planning and Zoning Commission, residential neighbors of the high school appeared content with the compromise plan.
School officials said they heard neighbors’ concerns and took them seriously.
“I think the neighbors liked that we negotiated with them,” said District 208 board Vice President Matthew Sinde. “I think it’ll be a win-win situation for the community as a whole. It also shows that we are willing to work with the community and with the village to make everything happen.”
Trustee Michael Garvey also praised school district officials for listening to residents, adding that it’s up to students “to do their part” in keeping the area safe for motorists, Hollywood residents and the school children who flood the area each morning and afternoon.
“I think RB realizes that the residents living there are some of their biggest fans,” Garvey said. “They just want their area respected.”
Skinkis, meanwhile, expressed relief the ordeal was over and that both sides settled the matter out of court.
“The board and the administration are excited to move on,” Skinkis said. “It’s important for us to work with our neighbors, and the village of Brookfield plays a significant role in the high school’s operation. We want to have a good relationship.“