Work is well under way on the multipurpose room addition and new playground at Hollywood School in Brookfield, but neither project will be complete when classes resume on Aug. 25. The playground ought to be done by mid-September with the addition on track right now for the end of September. (Bob Uphues/Editor)

The new multipurpose room under construction at Hollywood School won’t be ready when classes resume in less than a month. Delays in obtaining construction materials have slowed down what was always a tight construction schedule.

Although Hollywood School itself will open on time Aug. 25, the new multipurpose room won’t be complete and ready for use until the end of September.

“By the time we get the school open there will be no heavy equipment; we should be able to keep disruption to a minimum,” District 96 owner’s representative Ramesh Nair told the school board at their July 21 meeting. 

The new Hollywood School playground, also under construction on land leased from the Hollywood Citizens Association, should be completed by mid-September. The playground equipment is expected to arrive in late August and then must be installed, Nair said.

In addition to the construction delay due to scarce materials, the school district received another surprise in July when the Illinois Environmental Agency informed officials that there was an underground oil storage tank outside of the school’s walls, next to the boiler room. 

Neither school district officials, the district’s owner’s representative nor the architect knew about the existence of the tank.

“There were no [school district] records of this over 70 years,” said Nair.

Nair added that the Illinois EPA was the only agency with information about the location of the tank and that a ground-penetrating radar scan of the area done July 21 prior to the board meeting confirmed its existence.

“It was used to store oil when the school was heated by heating oil,” Nair said. “So it’s just outside the basement area and we actually found the pipe that was connected to it.”

Although the storage tank hasn’t been used for decades, because of its age the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency considers it a “leaky” tank.

“That’s really bad news for us,” Nair said.

Whether the tank actually is leaking or not will be confirmed when the district decides to remove it. Performing that work will require the school district to obtain a permit from the EPA. Any contaminated soil – the amount of which won’t be known until crews begin hand-digging the area — will have to be removed and disposed of in a manner approved by the EPA and replaced by clean fill.

Work to remove the tank and remediate any contaminated soil will have to be done over spring break 2022 or next summer, so the area will be cordoned off for now. The storage tank location will not affect the work on the multipurpose room.

“We are going to work around it right now, because it’ll hold up construction,” Nair said. “It’ll shut us down for months.”