March 13 hearing for alley paving projects

Five Brookfield alleys eyed for improvement

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By BOB UPHUES

Residents on five blocks slated for alley paving in Brookfield will get a final chance to give input or voice their opposition to village board members at a public hearing scheduled for March 13 at 6 p.m. in village hall, 8820 Brookfield Ave.

The village's Board of Local Improvements (BLI), which consists of Village President Michael Garvey and trustees Catherine Colgrass Edwards, C.P. Hall, Kit Ketchmark and Linda Stevanovich voted unanimously at their Feb. 13 meeting to propose paving the alleys between the following blocks: the 4200 block of Elm/Park avenues, the 3100 block of Oak/Sunnyside avenues, the 3200 block of Arthur/Maple avenues, the 9100 block of Sheridan/Grant avenues and the 3200 block of Sunnyside/Vernon avenues.

Two other alleys, the 3600 block of Forest/Prairie avenues and 9400 block of Henrietta/Jackson avenues, originally considered for paving in 2006 were not proposed for paving this year.

In recent years, the village typically has improved no more than two alleys in any one year. However, last fall Garvey proposed ramping up alley paving in Brookfield, where most residential alleys are still covered with gravel.

If residents wished to have their alleys paved, they gathered a petition in which a minimum of 51 percent of property owners on a block favored the improvement. With some seven petitions in hand last year, Garvey suggested completing all seven projects in 2006 and added that the village could plan for up to 10 alley paving projects per year in future years.

While the village would pay the engineering costs of paving alleys, the actual construction cost would be repaid by residents as an add-on to their property tax bills over a 10-year period.

Residents of those seven blocks were sent two letters, the most recent on Jan. 24, asking them to vote on the proposed paving projects. The letters asked for "yes" or "no" votes, explaining that no response would be counted as a yes vote.

Most residents on the blocks targeted for alley improvement in 2006 didn't respond to the first letter, prompting Stevanovich to question the method for tabulating votes.

"I am concerned about the high number of residents who did not respond," Stevanovich said during an earlier BLI meeting on Jan. 23. "Are we going to contact these residents again, or inform them that based on these numbers they are going to get the alley?"

The Jan. 24 letter to residents was the result of that concern, although that second letter also stated that "no response" would be counted as a "yes" for the project.

Based on that formula, residents of the 9400 blocks of Henrietta/Jackson avenues, came out clearly in opposition to their alley being paved, while those in the 3600 blocks of Forest/Prairie avenues were evenly split.

Village Engineer Derek Treichel suggested that the BLI wait one year before deciding on the 3600 blocks of Forest/Prairie, to coincide with the 2007 improvement of Prairie Avenue. At that time, the alley paving could be tied to a simultaneous sewer line improvement on Lincoln Avenue.

The BLI decided not to act on the 9400 blocks of Henrietta/Jackson since, in Garvey's words, there were other alley projects that could take its place.

One resident from that block, Larry Kral, expressed his disappointment over the decision, saying the village should have given residents more information on the costs involved and how those costs would be paid over time.

"If you want these things to pass, you have to put out more information," Kral said. "I'm disappointed we're not getting the alley, because it's a terrible alley."

After the March 13 public hearing, the BLI will make a formal recommendation to the village board to approve the alley paving projects and put them out for bids.

Preliminary estimates for the concrete alleys, which will include the installation of storm sewers and garage aprons, vary from block to block.

The total cost of construction for the alleys was pegged at between $130,000 and $174,000. The village would pick up engineering, legal and administrative costs, while residents would be responsible for actual construction costs.

Broken down per resident, taxpayers can expect to pay between $90 and $121 per year over a period of 10 years. The charge would appear as a separate line item on each property tax bill within the special assessment area.

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