Compromise to keep Crystal Lake South High School bleachers standing

District 155, city, property owners reach agreement to prevent total demolition

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CRYSTAL LAKE – A compromise has been reached to keep the west bleachers at Crystal Lake South High School standing at their current height while Community High School District 155 moves through the city's zoning process.

After weeks of negotiations, the three parties involved in the lawsuit – the school district, the property owners that filed a lawsuit against the district and the city of Crystal Lake – agreed to a stay on a pending demolition order that would require the district to completely dismantle the bleachers.

McHenry County Judge Michael Chmiel signed off on the agreed order Thursday morning.

The stay means the demolition order will be put on hold until March 15, giving the district time to submit a zoning application with the city and make its way through that process.

"The parties simply agreed to wait," said Victor Filippini, the attorney representing the city.

This way, the neighbors get to keep the current demolition order in play as they've requested and the district will not be violation of a court order, something its attorney raised concerns about.

"We’re content," said Tom Burney, the attorney representing the property owners.

"This stay order meets all the district’s needs," said the district's attorney, Robert Swain. "There are a lot of the details that need to be worked out, and the zoning process is where that should be handled."

The district has not yet submitted its zoning application, and the attorney handling that process did not immediately return a call Thursday asking when that is expected to occur.

"We’re continuing to work to comply with zoning," district spokeswoman Shannon Mortimer said.

The bleachers have been dismantled to the ninth row, the height originally suggested by the neighboring property owners and agreed to by the school board in October as part of a conceptual plan.

The plan included returning the home side and the press box to the east bleachers, so that the school could make up some of the seats it was losing with the downsizing of the west bleachers.

But the neighboring property owners had requests of their own, including addressing storm drainage issues, enhanced landscaping, the installation of a privacy fence at the top of the bleachers and noise restrictions.

Those items weren't something that should be negotiated outside of the zoning process, Swain said, echoing a concern raised by Filippini who also argued the revised demolition order proposed by the district would be inappropriate and in violation of the Illinois Supreme Court decision handed down in September.