D128 looking to utilize property across Route 176

D128 looking to utilize property across Route 176

The D128 board of education and school administration are in the early stages of planning to expand the campus across Route 176.

As it stands, the school is landlocked and largely built-out. On the north end of the school is Butler Lake and to the east and west are residential neighborhoods, so the only logical place to expand the campus as the community grows is south, across Route 176, according to associate superintendent Mr. Briant Kelly.

“There isn’t really a lot of land compared to newer high schools,” Mr. Kelly said.

This situation motivated the D128 Board to purchase more land for the school to have some room to grow.

Some students agree with the Board’s thinking and approve of the plan. 

“LHS is smaller in terms of area compared to other schools,” sophomore Shagun Poonia said. “Expansion would be cool.”

In 2019, the District purchased 911 West Park Ave. and 915 West Park Ave. between Dymond and Dawes. These plots of land contained older homes and part of the agreement was that the residents could live there for three years after the district purchased it. They were vacated in 2022.

“The houses are empty now, but we are working on the process of demolishing the houses and also looking at other things that go into making that land usable,” Mr. Kelly said.

Most recently, soil samples have been collected on the properties to determine how the land could be used. Soil testing determines the suitability of the soil for the type of construction to be done.

One barrier to developing this plot of land is that the property owned by the district is “not contiguous,” according to Mr. Kelly.

In addition to 911 and 915 West Park Ave, the district also owns the soccer field on the corner of Route 176 and Dymond Road which was formerly a tree nursery. However, between these two blocks of land is another property, 941 West Park Ave., which is not owned by the district. It is unclear if the land will be for sale in the near future.

Several options have surfaced for the question of what to do with the land. In a survey published to Instagram, where students, teachers and parents responded, building a new parking lot was the most requested option receiving 43 percent out of 175 total votes. 

However, receiving 35 percent of the vote was “the current building should be updated first.” Potential ideas floated by students were a new cafeteria, which is already in progress, and a bigger main gym.

Sustaining 13 percent of the vote was an expansion of the athletic fields on campus, potentially including another turf field.

“Over the years, we’ve been looking at opportunities to have more athletic fields or space for athletics,” Mr. Kelly said.

The last expansion idea, building a second campus, received the lowest vote at nine percent. According to Mr. Kelly, this idea is not entirely feasible and “not conducive” for students to utilize

Senior Finley Roman is against a second campus.

“A second campus would only divide the school, decreasing atmosphere, spirit and cohesion,” they said.

Moving forward, the board will research options and consider possibilities for how to best develop and utilize the property across Route 176.

In the end, “trying to make that [property] usable for our students is really what is key,” Mr. Kelly.

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