A frustrated contingent of residents who live in the neighborhood near Lake Forest High School gathered at District 115 headquarters last week, voicing dismay that renovation of the school's track this summer will include creation of a stormwater-detention area they fear will pose a danger to children.
District 115 officials said they are including the detention area in the $2 million track project because it's required by the Lake County Stormwater Management Commission.
"This is not a retention pond, which is always filled with water, but a detention area, which will be dry much of the time," District 115 Deputy Superintendent Allen Albus said. "A couple of residents said they were worried the detention area would cause them to flood, but it actually works in just the opposite way and is designed to capture water during heavy rains."
Still, many of the two dozen or so residents who lambasted the detention area when they spoke at a school board meeting said they were blindsided by the project's magnitude. They said district officials had not properly notified residents about what to expect.
"I'm all in favor of improvements to the track, and all three of my children ran track in high school," said Patrick Lupton, a resident of Ravine Park Drive. But, he added, "You're tearing up a community park that we will never get back."
Joe Novicki, also a resident of Ravine Park Drive, said he questioned the wisdom of digging a "5-foot-deep pit" that he fears will be filled with water, attracting mosquitoes that can pose health hazards.
"Who will take care of the safety of the children?" Novicki asked. "We're worried about the kids in the neighborhood."
The track renovation is included in $4 million in capital improvement projects District 115 is launching this month, Albus said. Besides replacing the aging track, which will be resurfaced and expanded from six lanes to eight, the district is also renovating the air system at the high school's indoor pool and updating the air-conditioning system in the high school.
"The track project has been widely publicized and discussed, and nothing about this is a secret," school board President Todd Burgener said after thanking residents for sharing their concerns.
Burgener said the district would hold meetings to keep residents informed on the project, which is expected to begin this month.