Deadline looms in parking lot lawsuit between Village of Brookfield and D208


Isabel Hughes

Students stand outside the proposed parking lot along Rockefeller Avenue.

Riverside Brookfield High School District 208 and the Village of Brookfield have been engaging in ongoing litigation regarding expanding the parking lot near Hollywood Elementary School and the lease for parking on Rockefeller Avenue.

Recently, the village gave the school district their final offer on building a 153-space parking lot with 45-spaces in a new parking lot off Rockefeller Avenue. The current lease the school has for Rockefeller Avenue’s parking area expires in 2017. In addition, the District is now being offered a long-term lease on the 108 parking spaces along Rockefeller Avenue for $1 per year.

“The Village of Brookfield has threatened to take away Rockefeller. Our response to that is exactly why we need to build our own parking lot because we will continuously be a tenant for either the village or the zoo and have no control over the parking for our facility,” said District 208 Superintendent Kevin Skinkis.

The school district has implemented a petition for their constituents to get support as they urge the Village of Brookfield to reconsider their position on RB’s parking and tennis court plan. It has so far gotten approximately 1,500 to 1,600 signatures.

“We wanted to make sure that through a strong PR campaign, we can educate the public as well as educate the village board that we’re trying to achieve something bigger than just building a parking lot to build a parking lot,” Skinkis said. “One of the biggest things that the board of education wants to accomplish is to educate people on what’s going on and also to show the village that there are a lot of people that feel the same way the school district does.”

Recently, the village proposed a new, final deal to the board.

“We did receive a formal offer… from the Village of Brookfield. It was for a 20-year lease on Rockefeller at a dollar-per-year, and it will allow us to build a 45-space parking lot,” said Skinkis. “The district would need to do two things: dismiss the lawsuit, and agree not to apply for any zoning relief or construct any additional parking until August of 2037.”

This new deal does come with some benefits, but it also has some costs, especially since parking will still be an issue with this new deal.

“Offering Rockefeller for a dollar per year… will save the school district money, so there’s definite cost savings. At the same time, the district still has to weigh how this helps them address parking,” said Skinkis. “The Village of Brookfield, when they released their statement, said that parking has always been a problem at RB, and whether they allow us to build 45, 60, or 90 parking spaces, it’s not going to be enough. But every little bit does help.”

The district hopes that the village will still be willing to negotiate some of the terms of the new proposal.

“The question will come down to if the village is willing to discuss some alternatives to their proposal. If there is some minor room for movement, I think both sides can get a deal done,” said Skinkis. “In their formal motion that they voted on at the village meeting, their offer said a total of 153 spaces. I think our offer is coming to 163, so we’re not as far off as people think. If we both meet in the middle, this probably could get done.”

Overall, the issue is not going to come down to saving money, but rather addressing the constantly growing problem of parking at RB and taking advantage of that opportunity while the district has the chance.

“The school is going to be here for a very long time. You’re not going to be able to redevelop that area. Now’s the time to address it and do what’s right for the long term,” said Skinkis.

The Village of Brookfield’s latest offer, according to Skinkis, will be withdrawn on November 25 at 5p.m. if both parties cannot agree.