Brookfield Zoo stands to gain from latest RB parking plan

Rockefeller Ave. delivery truck route included

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A plan to increase parking for Riverside-Brookfield High School along Rockefeller Avenue has the blessing of Brookfield Zoo, which stands to gain a new, more secure entrance for its delivery trucks under a new plan floated to Brookfield village officials on Feb. 13.

Under the new proposal, a cul-de-sac at the intersection of Rockefeller and Hollywood avenues would be replaced by a landscaped median.

The median would serve to divert traffic coming eastbound on Rockefeller south on Hollywood Avenue, and divert traffic coming westbound on Rockefeller Avenue from Golf Road north on Hollywood.

Since Hollywood Avenue dead-ends north of Rockefeller at a zoo service gate, the new plan, in effect, creates a service road for zoo deliveries, which now must enter the zoo through the south admission gate on Gold Road.

Brookfield Zoo Director Dr. Stuart Strahl said that trucks currently must pass two security checkpoints?"one at the south gate and another near the supply warehouse near where Hollywood Avenue feeds into the zoo property. On busy days, the trucks cause delays for patrons entering the zoo and tie up traffic.

The proposed delivery truck route into the zoo would benefit zoo patrons and streamline the delivery process. The diversion would also benefit residents of the Hollywood section of Brookfield, Strahl said, by impeding traffic from traveling west down Rockefeller Avenue.

Meanwhile, a median could be landscaped in such a way that the delivery trucks, which enter the zoo at all hours of the day, are screened from the view of residents.

Riverside-Brookfield High School approached the Village of Brookfield with a proposal to expand parking along Rockefeller Avenue between Golf Road and Hollywood Avenue earlier this year. On Jan. 9, RBHS District 208 Superintendent/Principal Jack Baldermann asked village trustees to increase the number of parking spaces along that stretch of Rockefeller Avenue from just over 20 to 108.

The added parking would be needed, he said, if the high school goes ahead with a major renovation of the campus, which would eliminate some 60 faculty parking spaces on the northeast side of the school property.

The high school has also proposed constructing a parking deck over a current student parking lot on the northwest side of the campus. If the school can't win approval for expanded parking on Rockefeller Avenue, it may force the school to build a second deck on the parking structure at a cost of $1.5 million.

"The alternative is to build a second deck on top of it," Baldermann said. "It won't be less traffic, but the cost will be exorbitantly higher.

The estimated cost for increasing parking on Rockefeller Avenue is roughly $230,000. According to a resolution approving the deal pending before the Brookfield village board, the Village of Brookfield would pay for the improvements up front, but would be reimbursed for the full cost by District 208 upon completion.

There is no indication from the resolution that Brookfield Zoo would contribute funds to the project in any way, despite the fact that it would be able to use the new parking facilities both on Rockefeller Avenue and the school's parking deck. While Brookfield Zoo owns the property on which the parking deck would be erected, the Village of Brookfield owns the Rockefeller Avenue right-of-way.

Village Manager Riccardo Ginex said that zoo officials have said they would be willing to pay for any costs related to the landscaped median that would serve as a traffic barrier.

Brookfield Trustee Linda Stevanovich repeated her disapproval of any plan that would impede traffic from traveling westbound away from RB on Rockefeller. Such a barrier, she said, would only compound traffic flow problems already present on school days.

"What you are going to do is jam things up and down Golf," Stevanovich said. "People are going to avoid Golf at all costs. I really think this is going to push traffic all over the place."

Baldermann acknowledged that traffic on Golf Road would increase as parking capacity increased, but said the traffic barrier would increase safety in the surrounding neighborhood.

"There will be more congestion on Golf, but it will protect the Hollywood community and will decrease traffic [in the neighborhood]," Baldermann said. "The increased traffic on Golf is the price we pay for being landlocked."

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