'Battle of the Bleachers' Continues Between District 155 and City of Crystal Lake

New $1.18 million bleachers at Crystal Lake South High School will stand 51 feet tall when completed.

The new "Home" bleachers for Crystal Lake South High School were moved to other side of the football field, closer to nearby homes.
The new "Home" bleachers for Crystal Lake South High School were moved to other side of the football field, closer to nearby homes.

Ken Bruhn Field at Crystal Lake South High School typically is where football players battle for a win.

Currently, the field is the focus of a battle between the city of Crystal Lake and Community High School District 155.

In June, District 155 began installing new bleachers, at a cost of $1.18 million, that will seat somewhere between 3,800 to 3,900 spectators, which includes both the "Home" and "Visitor" seating areas.

The school district never presented its plans to the city, and the ominous steel structure is not sitting well with neighbors whose properties abut the field. South High School is located at 1200 S. McHenry Ave. in Crystal Lake.

On the one side, school district officials insist they don't need the city's approval to build the massive structure, which will stand 51-feet-tall once the press box is installed, is at least three times wider than the original stands and is set back only 41 feet from the property line.

"We have the proper work permit from the Regional Office of Education," said District 155 spokesman Jeff Puma. "Illinois School Code says our building and zoning authority comes from them."

"Not so" say city of Crystal Lake officials, citing a Dec. 23, 2011 decision by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

"The Illinois Attorney General determined that school districts are subject to municipal and county ordinances," said Michelle Rentzsch, director of planning and economic development for the city.

The project's size, height and setback require a zoning variance, she said. The district does not have the necessary storm water permit either. And city officials have yet to analyze the parking requirements for bleachers that size. 

This is the first time in the past 25 years where District 155 has not presented plans and requested approval from the city for a zoning related matter. The city has issued 26 permits to the school district over the years, Rentzsch said.

The city issued a "stop work" order last Thursday, Aug. 1, demanding construction on the structure be halted.

Puma on Thursday said the district never received the stop work order. City staff said the order was hand delivered to District 155 Superintendent Johnnie Thomas. 

Thomas is expected to meet with neighbors from Amberwood Drive on Monday, Aug. 12, to discuss the matter. As the bleachers stand, residents are concerned the massive steel structure will negatively impact their property values and create considerable noise and safety concerns for anyone on the bleachers due to their height and proximity to the homes.

District 155 invested in the new bleachers because the original "Home" stands had openings (behind spectators feet) and created concern that small children could fall through. The bleachers also were not ADA compliant, Puma said.

Additionally, the press box structure was not safe, and local fire officials were concerned about the lack of seating regarding capacity codes, Puma said. 

The new bleachers located near the Amberwood Drive houses will serve as the Gators "Home" spectator side. Visitors will now sit on the bleachers closest to the school parking lot.


District 155 Installs Massive New Bleachers at CL South Without City Approval

Stacey Nicole Maselbas August 10, 2013 at 04:13 PM
as far as a lot of people bashing the people standing up for there rights as homeowners that live near these hideous bleachers, your wrong. you are not understanding the facts in all this. I have to say when it comes to a school district that governs are children your responses are sickening. This school got 1.8 million dollars to make there school and teaching and learning for there students better right? why spend that money on hideous bleachers they WILL NOT FILL, when the teachers are taking pay cuts the students are dealing with old, torn, and written on books, and like someone previously posted when the bleachers and upkeep of the ac units at other schools in the district are so bad???? also the fact that the superintendent was issued THREE stop work orders TWO were physically handed to him and they are denying it!!!!!! How as parents is a person that's supposed to be in charge of are kids education and future right on any thing??? were supposed to rely on the school to teach are kids about respect and rules and following the laws right? what in gods name is the superintendent lying to newspapers and reporters teaching any of these kids? Absolutely nothing except being a liar and deceiving is ok! nice huh? as for these bleachers there hideous and big and from my experience at crystal lake south high school as a student there, and someone that went to football games occasionally the size of these things is ridiculous! theres not where near that many people there and any students that go there are running around and talking and hanging with there friends all over the place in there! so anyone that says these are needed is wrong. this money could have been spent on the teachers, or new supplies or anything to better the kids education in this school not to use as an excuse to break rules and city laws. these are the kind of things that teach are kids how to act and how to think when they should be learning about respect! This whole situation is disrespectful period. I really hope a lot of you check the fact and realize that your supporting a school district that lied and went AGAINST city building orders and laws and god knows what else...
CL Proud August 12, 2013 at 10:00 PM
Their, not there. Our not are...really? Please don't post something about education without proper grammar.
Zed August 13, 2013 at 12:15 AM
While I had no problem understanding the purpose of Stacey's post, the mistakes in her grammar are a rather good indication that our schools are not spending money in the right places. Meaning actual education, as opposed to what is in fact completely unnecessary (to said actual education) stadium bleachers.


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