CRYSTAL LAKE – The bleachers at Crystal Lake South High School are controversial no more.
The proposal submitted by Community High School District 155 received nearly unanimous approval from the City Council, with one objection raised on the parking piece of the plan.
“I think finally ... our community is in a good place with respect to this proposal,” Mayor Aaron Shepley said. “I think it’s been long coming. I don’t want to rehash any of the things we may have gone through in the past because I think it’s well known that it would have been nice not to have to have gone through this. But in some ways, maybe we got a better plan by having gone through it.”
The council did reject a request for a waiver of about $3,500 in fees, with Shepley noting that he thought the burden of the cost should be spread across the school district’s boundaries, not just Crystal Lake.
The revised proposal followed a two-year court battle that culminated in an Illinois Supreme Court decision that said the school district was required to follow the city’s zoning and stormwater ordinances, and that still is winding down as a judge prepares to make a decision on the reimbursement of the neighboring property owners’ attorney fees by the district.
The district now can move forward with its new plan, which includes returning the home side to the east bleachers through the addition of nearly 80 more feet in length and eight rows for a total of 22 rows, two more than existed before the renovation.
The west bleachers, the ones that back up to the homes, will remain at their current height of nine rows, five fewer rows than existed before the renovation and about a third fewer than what the expanded bleachers had, according to city documents.
The changes would leave the west bleachers with 958 seats and would increase the east bleachers to 2,303 seats for a total of 3,261 seats, fewer than the expansion’s nearly 4,000 seats, but more than the 2,200 or so seats that existed before the expansion.
The district also agreed to eliminate two of its six speakers and has hired a sound consultant to minimize the noise impact, said the district’s attorney, Lisa Waggoner.
“Our homes will finally stop vibrating,” resident Kim Maselbas-Gurba said, adding that everything the district proposed looks great.
The project is currently out to bid, which means the school board can move forward with accepting a contract, Superintendent Johnnie Thomas said.
The work will need to start this spring, so that the work can be finished – hopefully – by football season in the fall, Thomas said, adding that graduation will take place indoors, the same way that would be done if there was inclement weather.
“I’m just happy with the amount of support we got from the city and the homeowners,” Thomas said.