The new playground (shown above looking east) at Hollywood School will be built this summer on land owned by the Hollywood Citizens Association and will be much larger than the tiny playground that exists now. (DLA Architects, Ltd.)

Hollywood School in Brookfield is finally going to get a new playground as well as a multipurpose room. 

On April 21 the Riverside Elementary District 96 Board of Education unanimously accepted bids totaling about $1.6 million to build a new 1,450-square-foot addition to the back end of the school and to build a new playground on land the district is leasing from Hollywood Citizens Association (HCA).

The new multipurpose alone room will cost $1,303,000 plus another $16,000 for operable windows. The room will be used as a lunchroom, for band and orchestra classes and as a large group space. Currently, Hollywood School students eat lunch in the school’s gym. Hollywood has been the only elementary school in the district without a multipurpose room.

“It’s so exciting for Hollywood, not just the school but the entire community,” said Hollywood School Principal Kim Hefner. “It’s going to open up a lot of doors and a lot of space and add a lot more flexibility to what we can do.”

The school board had initially wanted to build the new multipurpose room last year as part of the work being done at the district’s other elementary schools, but problems in working out a lease deal with the HCA resulted in delaying the project for a year. 

Hollywood Elementary School’s multipurpose room addition (above) and playground will be constructed this summer. (DLA Architects, Ltd.)

Last year estimated cost for building the multipurpose room was $1.2 million as part of a contract that included work at Ames and Blythe Park Schools. As a result, the delay will cost the district approximately $100,000 as it is losing the economies of scale.

“I don’t think we should be paying $100,000 more,” said school board member David Barsotti, a resident of the Hollywood neighborhood who has been critical of the HCA. “I think we should pass that on to the HCA, but I know we can’t do that.”

But board members were happy to finally approve the project.

“My first meeting six years ago we talked about Hollywood,” said board member Lynda Murphy. “This is six years in the making. I’m so excited we’re getting going.”

The multipurpose room and playground will be built this summer. The new playground will cost $292,000 and replace the existing small playground situated between the school parking lot and the Hollywood Community House. The new playground will not be quite as fancy as some previous plans.

The playground will cover about 5,000 square feet and use a wood fiber surface. It will include will include swings, play structures for climbing, spinning, sliding and balancing structures and outdoor musical instruments. There will also be a zip line.

The proposed Hollywood Elementary School playground, looking west from the site of the existing playground. (DLA Architects, Ltd.)

“We did reduce the scope of the playground to narrow its focus a little bit, which we think was good and effective and gets Hollywood where it needs to be in terms of a playground place,” said board member Joel Marhoul, who co-chairs the school board’s facilities committee. 

The multipurpose room and playground will be built by Apex Construction Company of Chicago, which submitted the low bid among six bidders.

The new multipurpose room will reduce the size of the existing onsite parking lot, but the school district has reached an agreement with the village of Brookfield to allow for some staff parking on Hollywood Avenue during the school day. The district has also agreed to rent 10 parking spaces in Brookfield Zoo’s south parking lot for an annual cost of around $9,500.

Blythe space crunch on radar

Board members said that the district now needs to turn its attention to Blythe Park School, which is in the midst of transitioning from a one-section-per-grade school to a two sections per grade. 

Presently, there are two sections of kindergarten, first grade and second grade at Blythe Park and is likely to have two sections in every grade in less than three years. The school has 12 classrooms.

“We need to do something there relatively quickly,” said board member Jeff Miller who was attending his final full board meeting. 

Any future work at Blythe Park would probably involve reconfiguring the school’s lower-level auditorium, which could be expensive because of its sloping floor. In the past some Blythe Park parents have opposed turning the auditorium into classroom space.

New sprinklers at Central School

The board also approved a bid of just over $1 million to replace the fire sprinkler system at Central School this summer. Last year while constructing the new multipurpose room in the Central School basement, it was discovered that the sprinkler system, which is more than 60 years old, was not working properly. 

Since the system was so old and antiquated the Riverside Fire Department recommended replacing the entire system with a new one.

The school board voted unanimously to accept a bid of $1,050,000 from Tandem Construction of Chicago for the work. The bid includes a $100,000 contingency for any unexpected miscellaneous work that needs to be done putting in the new system. Any part of the contingency that is not spent will be returned to the district.