The Hollywood Citizens Association (HCA) has been and continues to be excited about the opportunity to work with Hollywood Elementary and the District 96 School Board (District 96) to provide a better playground for Hollywood Elementary students and support the school board’s goal of separating parking from play.
For more than 25 years, the HCA, Hollywood Elementary and the District 96 have worked together to provide playground land and equipment to Hollywood Elementary students. Five years ago, the HCA offered to expand the land under the current playground so a bigger, better playground could be built. That history can be read on the HCA website (www.hollywoodcitizensassociation.org).
In March 2019, members of the school board attended the HCA board meeting and inquired about buying the Hollywood House and land to build a parking lot. The HCA told them they weren’t interested in selling the Hollywood House or all the land but asked the school board to consider the east side of the lawn, from the Hollywood House to the RB football field fence, which they could purchase and use as a parking lot. The HCA asked them to think about this option and provide a plan for our consideration.
On Monday, June 24, the District 96 emailed a letter to the HCA, and a press release to all the families in the 96th school district, proposing to buy the Hollywood House and the land, which surprised the HCA, considering the proposed option discussed in previous conversation with District 96.
The Hollywood House has both historical and present value to the Hollywood and greater community and the land provides trees and green space where Hollywood and Hollywood Elementary children play.
The HCA enjoys offering a local, inexpensive resource for families and local groups to gather. The House is used nearly every week of the year, sometimes every day of the week, by community groups, the Scouts, the Brownies, Young Life and the PTA, and for birthdays and graduation parties. In fact, the House was rented months ago for Thanksgiving and Christmas, allowing families to bring all their family together in one location to celebrate the holidays.
The HCA understands this important mission.
Everyone on the HCA board has either attended Hollywood Elementary and/or have or have had children there. HCA members participate in managing the Hollywood House because they believe in its history and mission and are focused on doing what’s right for the children of Hollywood Elementary and the Hollywood community.
The HCA Board is committed to District 96’s goal of separating parking from play, providing space for building expansion and a new playground at Hollywood while maintaining the HCA’s goal of preserving green space and its mission and heritage. District 96’s unsolicited proposal is a great first step in achieving these aims and HCA looks forward to collaborating with them. By listening and understanding each other’s needs, a viable resolution is obtainable.
Gonzo Schexnayder is president of the Hollywood Citizens Association.