On February 18, a two and one-half hour settlement conference was held before Judge Mary Mikva at the Daley Center in Chicago. The settlement conference was initiated by the School District with the hope of resolving the lawsuit brought by the School District against the Village of Brookfield over the denial by the Village Trustees of the School District’s request to allow it to construct a small parking lot and improved athletic facilities on school property near the football field. The Village Plan Commission unanimously approved the School District’s requests after the School District made numerous changes to its plans to resolve the concerns of the neighbors and to provide overall improvements to the surrounding community but the Village Trustees refused to grant the approval.
Settlement conferences are traditionally confidential. The School District is disappointed that the Village has decided to depart from tradition by issuing a press release about the conference. However, the District is even more disappointed that the Village has misrepresented in the news release that the School District was unwilling to consider the Village’s settlement proposal and that it did not make a counter-proposal.
Before the settlement conference, the Village provided a settlement proposal to the Judge and the School District submitted a counter proposal. During the settlement conference, the Village rejected the School District’s settlement proposal and slightly modified its initial settlement proposal but refused to provide any assurances of additional parking for the School District. The Village continued its threat to terminate the School District’s lease of Rockefeller Avenue from the Village for additional parking. The School District fully considered and discussed with the Judge the Village’s modified proposal but rejected it because it did not provide for additional parking. The Judge was able to facilitate an agreement on a process which would permit the School District to finish some of the athletic facility improvements on its property, but the Judge concluded the settlement conference when she recognized that complete settlement of the litigation was unlikely.
Finally, the District finds it incredible that the Village continues to use the threat of taking away parking on Rockefeller Avenue to try to leverage a settlement of the litigation. The Village is attempting to force the District into a choice between parking on its own property and parking on Rockefeller Avenue. While parking on both best serves the interests of the entire school community, the District’s choice, if forced to make one, is to assure parking on its own property so as not to be subject to the ebbs and flows of Village politics. Ideally, however, a solution will be found which permits parking on both School District property and Rockefeller Avenue, so as to adequately serve the needs of the school community and not push visitors to the School District onto residential streets.