Riverside Elementary School District 96 officials are a step closer to embarking on a project to build a multipurpose room addition on to the south side of Hollywood School, 3423 Hollywood Ave. in Brookfield, and significantly expand and enclose an outdoor playground area north and west of the adjacent Hollywood Community House.
On Jan. 28, the members of the Brookfield Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously recommended approval of a pair of special use permits and three zoning variations sought by the school district to make way for the 1,475-square-foot multipurpose room addition and allow the school district to put a fence around the expanded outdoor play area.
“At the end of the day, I think it’s going to be a benefit to not only the school but the community,” said planning and zoning Commissioner Todd Svoboda.
The village required the special use permits to allow for a joint parking arrangement for school employees with both the village of Brookfield and the Chicago Zoological Society and to allow the school to expand the school, which is a non-conforming use in a residential district.
The zoning variations are needed because the school exceeds lot coverage rules, to reduce the number of onsite parking spaces to make way for the multipurpose room addition and to permit fencing in the front yard setback of the Hollywood House property to enclose the playground.
The recommendation of the Planning and Zoning Commission is advisory, with the village board responsible for either approving or denying them. Denial is unlikely, however, since the village has worked closely with the school district on the parking aspect of the equation.
When the addition is built, it will leave Hollywood School with just eight onsite parking spaces, leaving them 18 short of what the code requires. To meet the parking space requirement, District 96 is renting 10 spaces in the south parking lot of Brookfield Zoo and has won approval from the village for 10 on-street spaces on Hollywood Avenue in front of the school.
With the parking question settled, the remaining issues were minor ones for the Planning and Zoning Commission and are not likely to trouble village trustees, either.
“We’re confident with the process in front of us and happy that the village process continues to move forward,” said District 96 Superintendent Martha Ryan-Toye.
Village trustees are expected to discuss the commission’s recommendation at the village’s board’s committee of the whole meeting on Feb. 22. The village board is expected to vote on the recommendation at its March 8 meeting.
In the meantime, District 96’s architectural firm will begin nailing down construction documents in preparation for soliciting bids for the job. The architects and school board also need to finalize the final layout and cost estimates for the roughly 10,000-square-foot playground that will wrap around the north and west sides of the Hollywood Community House, which sits immediately south of the school.
Last year, the Hollywood Citizens Association, which operates the building, and the school district entered into a 30-year lease agreement that significantly increases outdoor recreation space for Hollywood School students and separates the playground from the onsite parking area.
The agreement also calls for the school district to widen the driveway that connects the Hollywood School parking lot with Washington Avenue from 12 to 20 feet. That will be done as part of the overall construction project, which Ryan-Toye said will be completed this summer, if the school board accepts construction bids this spring.
“Overall, this is a smaller project, so the timeline will work for us,” Ryan-Toye said.
Last spring and summer, District 96 launched major projects at its other elementary schools in Riverside. The Hollywood School project was delayed in order to finalize the agreement with the Hollywood Citizens Association and to solve the parking issue.