Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of stories on the Brookfield Township Comprehensive Plan.
You might call this story the road not taken.
It certainly is a story that illustrates the complexity local officials face when they try to balance immediate needs with a desire to plan for the future, and make it happen with limited funds.
The Brookfield Township Comprehensive Plan recommends improving and promoting use of Brookfield Township Park. Trustees have talked about ideas to bring that about, from holding concerts and fairs to a signature community event, which is recommended in the plan, at the park, and have moved in that direction by fixing up Jenny’s Junction playground and improving walking trails.
With that in mind, Trustee Ron Haun approached Kirila Contractors Inc., Brookfield, to get a price to build a road in the park from the bridge by the back parking lot across the open field that also is called “the pond” and ending at the woods, where the trails begin.
Kirila proposed laying six inches of crushed concrete topped by 3 inches of asphalt millings to create a road 10 feet wide and 130 yards long. Haun said the dirt removed to build the road could be used to redirect water so “the pond” doesn’t live up to its nickname.
The area would be much dryer, more usable by sports teams for practice and possibly for community events, and walkers would have an easier time getting to the trails, Haun said.
“This is something that we talked about as part of the comprehensive plan, doing things to where we’re preparing for future events and things of that nature,” Haun said at the Dec. 20 meeting. “I think this would be a project where we’re starting to take pieces to where we can start planning for those types of things that we talked about in our comprehensive plan.”
Kirila’s price: $7,500 to $11,500, depending on the scope of work.
Trustees Gary Lees and Dion Magestro – Trustee Dan Suttles had not yet replaced Magestro – said they like the project and agree that opening up the pond is a desirable goal. But, there are other factors that caused them to want to hold off.
One was the money. Where would it come from?
“That’s a large expense right now,” said township Fiscal Officer Dena McMullin. “Do we have the money? We probably could find the money (in the general fund) to do it. Personally, I would like to wait until we have money in the bank. I’d rather see it there than have to play catch up.”
Although there is a park fund, it only has about $1,300 in it, Lees said.
Magestro asked the trustees to think about priorities at the park.
“I agree it should be part of the infrastructure that needs to be put in there,” he said. “Here’s my concern: While I do think it should be somewhere on the hit list, I would ask that you reconsider the other things that need to be done down there. I was always a firm believer that you fix what you have and then you move on to improvements.”
Magestro suggested starting by addressing safety issues. The trustees did that at the same meeting by agreeing to have Commlink Communications of Brookfield install four security cameras at a cost of $3,759. The installation will occur in the spring, trustees said.
Other things that could be done, trustees said, include putting in a safety gate, fixing the retaining wall between two ball fields, repairing fence that is falling down, fixing and straightening the bleachers and restoring the memorial garden.
Another thing to be considered, Magestro said, is what the Brookfield Youth Organization, which runs the baseball and softball leagues, would be interested in helping out with. Trustees said they want to meet with the league to reach an agreement on responsibilities and use of the park.
“I’m trying to put things in progression, here: What’s most important, what’s second most important, until the money runs out,” Magestro said. “I think this (road project) is a good thing. I just don’t think it should be first or second. I like the idea and I like where Ronnie’s going with it: Build the infrastructure so that that park can become a multi-use facility. It could have concerts, it could have fairs. You name it.”
Haun came around to his colleagues’ way of thinking.
“I would agree with you on that,” he said. “I think we wait until we have money in the bank to approach these projects, this project especially. When we go to plan for the following year, if we have to make additional appropriations into the park fund to do projects down there, I would have a tendency to do that.”