River Forest village trustees made the right call — the only call — when they approved District 90’s application to renovate the exterior of Roosevelt Middle School conditioned on the reconfiguration of the North lot to include 30 parking spaces. 

Trustees had to put aside their feelings about the project’s merits and look primarily at zoning standards. And in a professional, workmanlike manner, by looking directly at the district’s mission and responsibility and using the recommendations and findings of fact as the guide, five of the six trustees put their trust where it rightfully belonged — the Development Review Board. 

It was a difficult task, made all the more challenging because of the passion and animus that D90’s project has engendered. Certainly passion has its place. However, in a small town where friendships and connections are forged when children are in elementary school, a trustee’s charge is not to let friendships and connections get in the way but to uphold the oath of office — to uphold village laws. Trustees have to make and uphold the law — abide by process and trust it. And in this case, trustees found that the project met the standards with conditions. Conditions in particular were important to ensure that parking, especially in the community’s most congested area, was available to the entire community, not just the school staff.  

D90 now must turn its disappointment into passion and build a project that can benefit the entire community. Be bold, be visionary, be creative. Imagine having a safe North lot and a terrific gathering area. And make it happen sooner than later. Prolonging the matter, especially if a judge is asked to sort it all out, would drag out the animosity, waste money and energy that the entire community will need to heal after three long, drawn-out years. We urge D90 to take the lead. Learn from what has happened — and move on. 

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