Just in case you would like to read the letter that Crystal Lake Mayor Aaron Shepley sent to Crystal Lake High School Board President Ted Wagner and his fellow board members, it is below:
Dear Mr. Wagner and Members of the Community High School District I55 Board:
In the wake of the Appellate Court decision and Judge Chmiel’s decision last Friday morning, and on behalf of the Crystal Lake City Council, I would like to suggest that now may be a good time for everyone to move forward and for the healing to begin.
What follows below is an outline of the circumstances under which this could occur.
As you are acutely aware, Judge Chmiel has now ruled twice that School District l55 is subject to and in violation of the City’s ordinances by virtue of the unauthorized construction of the bleachers at Crystal Lake South High School.
The Appellate Court for the 211 ct Judicial District has affirmed the first of Judge Chmiel’s decisions (i.e. the one in favor of the City of Crystal Lake) and there is no reason to believe that it would rule any different ly in regards to the decision made last Friday morning (i.e. the one in favor of the neighbors).
Furthermore, Judge Chmiel ordered the District to begin the process of bringing the bleachers into compliance with City ordinances and to provide a progress report to him on October 16th.
The Judge specifically reserved any determination on the neighbors’ request for a tear-down order; however, it is certainly within his authority to issue such an order in the event that the District were to proceed in bad faith.
No one on the Crystal Lake City Council created these most unfortunate circumstances, yet the council has worked tirelessly to protect the rights of the neighbors of Crystal Lake South, the students, families and athletes of Crystal Lake South, as well as the members of the Crystal Lake Community at-large.
For example, at no time has the City taken any steps to prevent Crystal Lake South from using the stadium despite its right (now judicially affirmed) to do so.
Nor has the City pursued its right to secure a tear-down order or to collect fines which would have amounted to over $400,000.00, had the City pursued them from the start.
Instead, the City informed members of the District 155 Board from the very beginning that the District’s legal position was simply untenable and implored the District to reconsider its position before further damage was done.
Unfortunately, lo date, the City has been unsuccessful in persuading the District to change its course.
Interestingly, the only “winners” in this debacle have been your lawyers who have made over $300,000.00 assisting District 155 in advancing one untenable argument after another.
What we are asking you to do is to consider the consequences of continuing to protract these matters further and to make the decision now to do the right thing.
If the District 155 Board insists on continuing to cost taxpayers money simply for the purpose of having a court again tell District 155 that its position is simply wrong, then you should also make it clear to the public that any “impact” that may be felt by Crystal Lake South students, athletes and families will be at the District’s hand and no one else’s.
Based upon the rulings to date, the City has the right to enforce our ordinances in one or more of the following ways
- Assess and collect fines in the amount of $1,000.00 per violation per day for every day the violations continue;
- Prevent the stadium from being used until the violations have been corrected;
- Secure a tear-down order for the bleachers.
Given that the City Council does not wish to punish the Crystal Lake South football team, the Crystal Lake South students or their families, or the taxpayers of District 155 for the misguided decisions of the District 155 Board, the City is willing to:
- Assess daily fines for each of the zoning violations associated with the bleachers, but defer collection of such fines (and ultimately waive such fines) subject to District 155’s compliance with the terms below;
- Allow the continued use of the stadium for school activities;
- Refrain from exercising its right to secure a tear-down order;
If and only if School District 155:
- Waives any right it may have to appeal Judge Chmiel’s decision of September 5, 2014;
- Does not seek either rehearing of or leave to appeal from the 2nd District Appellate Court opinion;
- Complies with the order entered by Judge Chmiel September 5, 2014 and files on or before October 16, 2014 all documents necessary in connection with actions that District155 will take to bring the bleachers into compliance with Crystal Lake ordinances, and
- Completes any and all construction necessary to bring the bleachers into compliance with the City ordinances on or before August 1, 2015.
This approach will provide the fullest measure of protection for all concerned because it will not interrupt any high school sports activities and will allow necessary construction to be completed during the summer adjournment.
As always, City Staff will be available to assist the District’s team in assembling the necessary documentation to proceed as outlined above.
Please do not consider this communication as an offer to settle, because given that the City and neighbors have already prevailed in the underlying lawsuit, there is nothing to settle.
Instead, consider this as the City’s sincere effort to focus the District on what is best for the students, athletes, families, and taxpayers of Crystal Lake.
Please indicate the District’s acceptance of this proposal on or before Friday, September 19, 2014.