By Bob Skolnik
Members of the Riverside Elementary School District 96 Board of Education welcomed the recent offer of land from the Hollywood Citizens Association, but did not immediately accept its proposal to rent about 10,000 square feet of land west and north of the Hollywood House for the token payment of $1 a year.
School board members said at their meeting on Oct. 16 that they are looking forward to a community forum that will be held on Oct. 30 at Hollywood School to have further discussions with the association and other Hollywood residents about ways to improve and expand the Hollywood School campus.
"I'm hoping that we are going to have some quality discussion at the end of October, because there are some very different ideas about what could be done or which section of property is in question or available," said District 96 school board member Joel Marhoul.
School board members would prefer that the HCA rent or sell them land east of the Hollywood House, an area discussed previously with the HCA.
"The west side versus the east side is really important," Marhoul said.
School board member David Barsotti, who lives in Hollywood, said he wants to know why the HCA is now willing to lease the north and west sides of the property to the school district after having previously talked about allowing the school district to use the land east of the Hollywood House.
"I don't know what changed," Barsotti said.
District officials would prefer to obtain land east of the Hollywood House, because they are planning to add a multipurpose room to the rear of Hollywood School, which is closer to the east side of the Hollywood House property.
Students would eat lunch in the multipurpose room. If a new playground were built on the east side of the lot they could quickly and safely go from the multipurpose room to the playground.
Using the west side of the lot for a play area raises issues, because it pushes student closer to Hollywood Avenue, though a play area there could be made safe with a fence District 96 Superintendent Martha Ryan-Toye said.
If the district accepts the HCA offer to lease the land west of the Hollywood House a new playground would likely be built at or near where the current playground exists Ryan-Toye said. A walkway from the planned multipurpose room to the playground could also be created.
"It changes where we were thinking but still seems feasible and doable," Ryan-Toye said.
Marhoul said a decision needs to be made fairly quickly, because the district would like to design a new playground for Hollywood School and build the new multipurpose room as soon as possible.
The HCA's offer to lease land west and north of Hollywood House to the district for 30 years came after the HCA board rejected an offer from District 96 to buy the Hollywood House and the surrounding property for $350,000.
If it had been able to buy the entire property, the school district planned to tear down Hollywood House, which is located just south of Hollywood School. The offer to buy the Hollywood House property, made in June, prompted the counteroffer from the HCA, made earlier this month. School board members are hopeful that a deal can be reached.
"The opening's been made and we've got some opportunity," Marhoul said.
School board members also want to continue to explore ways of creating additional parking for teachers and staff at Hollywood School.
Recently, Ryan-Toye recently met with Brookfield Village Manager Timothy Wiberg to explore the possibility of buying or using village-owned land. as a parking lot for teachers. Although Ryan-Toye apparently got a cool response, board members still want to pursue the idea.
"I know there is some hesitations about that property from Brookfield, but I do not think we should take that off the table because I do think that is an extremely viable option," Barsotti said.
District officials would also like the village of Brookfield to create a few designated parking spots for teachers along the 3400 block of Hollywood Avenue where teachers could park during the school day.