Economic development is on the minds of the Brookfield trustee candidates.
“I haven’t liked us losing McDonald’s, businesses that we always keep losing,” said Mark Syersak, who is up against Clifford B. Elliott Jr. and incumbent Ronald E. Haun in the race for one seat.
Syersak called the loss of Valley View Department Store “a heartbreaker.”
While there has been some good news on this front, like Cortland Banks putting in a new branch office, it hasn’t been enough, Syersak said.
“I wish we could bring more jobs in,” he said.
How can a trustee do that? “Talk to people,” Syersak said. “That’s about it.”
Those “people” include the leaders of existing businesses to encourage expansion efforts and get suggestions for attracting others, he said.
Talking also is part of Elliott’s plan.
“What I’d like to try and do, if I’m elected, is sit down with Sen. (Sean) O’Brien, the business leaders of the township, the department heads of the township,” and talk about ways to bring in and retain business, he said.
promoThis idea of trying to work collaboratively came from the Brookfield Township Comprehensive Plan, which suggests just that, Elliott said. While he’s not thrilled with everything that’s recommended in the plan, “A lot of it’s good,” he said, adding that he is not in favor of resurrecting a zoning referendum, a key plan recommendation.
Elliott said he would want to focus on developing the former Valley View Department Store property.
“I really want to work really, really hard to try to get something in there to show the residents and people around here that, hey, we brought this business in here,” he said. “Maybe once they see that, it will just trickle down” and other businesses will come.
You shoot for the stars, something like a Cabela’s, he said, but a strip plaza or smaller development would be OK, too.
Syersak, who also is not advocating a new zoning effort, said he would want to focus on attracting business to Brookfield Center, and redeveloping that area.
Bringing in outside investment is difficult, but Brookfield has a few things going for it, Haun said. There are industrial and commercial sites with utility access available, and a fiber-optic line running up Route 7 that could be attractive to technology-related firms, he said.
Route 7 would be a focus, Haun said, proposing working with Hubbard and Hubbard Township to generate projects to fill in the infrastructure gaps along that corridor and collectively promote it for development.
Haun also proposed creating a business association “almost like a chamber of commerce. It would serve kind of as a subset of a chamber of commerce. If we can get those people familiar with the chamber of commerce, that would work for the township to assist in bringing new business to the area. We need that. We need it badly. Who better than the local business people? I think it’s important that we get something like that established.”