For the want of a lawyer, a new playground and a school addition at Hollywood School in Brookfield has been delayed.

That’s because the Hollywood Citizens Association and Riverside Elementary School District 96 could not reach an agreement on a lease soon enough to allow for construction to take place this summer.

Last fall the Hollywood Citizens Association (HCA) has offered to lease about 10,000 square feet of land west and north of the Hollywood House to District 96 for the token payment of $1 a year, but the HCA could not hire a lawyer to review a proposed lease drafted by lawyers for District 96 in time for final plans to be completed and work to begin this summer. 

In its proposed lease, District 96 offered to reimburse the HCA up to $7,500 for legal expenses relating to the lease, but that money would only be paid after the lease was signed. The HCA had a hard time finding a qualified lawyer to review the ground lease without being able to pay anything up front although it recently hired a lawyer to review the lease.

“We’ve been trying to find a pro bono attorney or an attorney who would defer payment until after the lease was signed and it took us weeks to do that,” said Gonzo Schexnayder, the president of the HCA board, last week. “But we do have one and we expect to be reviewing the document next week.”

District 96 Superintendent Martha Ryan-Toye said she was disappointed that the playground and addition won’t be built this summer when the district does work at its other three elementary schools, including a major addition at Ames School in Riverside.

“I think we’re all disappointed,” Ryan-Toye said. “We also know that there was an economy in our long-range term plan of having one construction management firm overseeing all of this work in a designated period of time.”

Ryan-Toye said that she didn’t know how much the delay would cost the district in additional costs.

“Some of it depends on the future direction of our economy,” Ryan-Toye said. “There are just so many unknowns that it would be hard to predict or estimate that.”

In December, the projected cost for all the work at Hollywood School was about $2 million.

“It’s a great project and I will continue to be hopeful it can get done, just not on this timeline,” Ryan-Toye said at last week’s school board meeting.

The delay will allow Ryan-Toye more time to try and find additional parking to replace the parking spaces that will be lost when the small addition is built. 

On Feb. 3 Ryan-Toye met with Brookfield Zoo President and CEO Stuart Strahl to discuss the possibility of using some zoo land for staff parking. 

Ryan-Toye said this week that those talks are continuing.