Plan panel delays hearing on annex


A public hearing on a plan to construct a three-story annex at Wildwood School, 6950 N. Hiawatha Ave., has been delayed until after a community meeting is held on the project next month.

The Public Building Commission, which is managing the $15 million project, has made changes to the project based on concerns expressed by residents, and the agency wants to give residents an opportunity to review an updated plan before the hearing is held, commission spokeswoman Molly Sullivan said. The community meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 6, at the school.

Wildwood principal Mary Beth Cunat said that the basketball court and the water spray feature behind the school will be removed to accommodate the construction, and neither will be replaced on school grounds. The school and the Chicago Park District share several facilities at the site, and it is not known if a new court and water feature will be built at the adjacent park, Cunat said.

Building a new basketball court where the school’s mobile classroom unit is located had been considered, but that area will be used to expand a school parking lot, Cunat said. The mobile unit, which will be removed after the annex is built, is on Mendota Avenue, and some residents have expressed concern about moving the court closer to homes.

Cunat said that the tennis courts which are next to the basketball court will remain.

The annex, which is scheduled to open in the fall of 2015, will feature a library, a lunchroom, a principal’s office, a Spanish lab and about 14 classrooms, Cunat said. The school has 11 classrooms and a science lab in the main building and four classrooms in the mobile unit.

One of the school’s existing classrooms will be used for storage during construction next school year because the annex will be connected to the main building at that location, Cunat said. Wildwood has 424 students, and the main building is operating at about 175 percent of its capacity, but that figure is 127 percent if the 15-year-old mobile unit is included.

The building commission is seeking to have the school grounds rezoned from RS-1 single-family residential to an institutional planned development to allow construction of the annex. The Chicago Plan Commission had scheduled the hearing for its April 23 meeting, but the earliest the hearing will be held is at the commission’s hearing on Thursday, May 15, meeting in the Council Chamber at City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle St., Sullivan said.