Consultant Sought In LTHS Land Controversy

LA GRANGE, IL – The Lyons Township High School board appears to be taking another step away from its previous rushed, secretive process to sell its Willow Springs land.

On Monday, the board plans to discuss a proposed request for proposals seeking a “community relations research specialist” to gather the public’s feedback on the school’s 70 acres in Willow Springs.

The school board appears interested in hiring a consultant to organize meetings with the public about the land. The process also may include phone and online surveys.

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The board aims to complete the work by July 1.

More than six decades ago, the school bought the vacant land in the hopes of building a third campus. But enrollment leveled off in the 1970s, so officials no longer saw a need for the extra campus

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The land is zoned for residential and small retail uses. But in 2022, the school sought industrial developers and hoped to pressure Willow Springs into changing its zoning.

Through much of 2022, school officials privately courted developer Bridge Industrial. Closed session recordings showed the school board purposely kept other public bodies such as the village of Willow Springs and Pleasantdale School District 107 out of the loop.

Once the details went public, Willow Springs residents opposed the idea of an industrial development next to houses and Pleasantdale Elementary School.

Just weeks before last April’s election, the board abandoned its effort to sell to an industrial developer. It later ousted its attorney involved in the process.

The school board has become more open this time around. Last month, it revealed to the public that Pulte Group was interested in buying the land for a housing development.

This announcement was seen as a far cry from the board’s previous secrecy. Some wondered whether a public records request for offers on the 70 acres prompted the recent openness.

Through its own records request, Patch found the school received a woman’s request on Jan. 16 for any offers on the land for the previous two months. Her request came in two days before the school’s public announcement and four days after Pulte’s offer.

A school spokeswoman told Patch the announcement and the woman’s request were “completely unrelated.”

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