In a perfect world, no one would park cars on grass or dirt. But as we are reminded so often, if there’s a perfect world somewhere, it ain’t here.
So when Brookfield proposed passing an ordinace that would require homeowners to pave all off-street parking spaces, folks made a point of reminding village officials just how imperfect Brookfield was.
And, quite frankly, many residents have a point. How can the village expect residents to conform to a standard that the village itself can’t match?
True, cars ought to be parked on paved areas. Outside of the dust that cars kick up while pulling in and out of the unpaved spaces, it just looks plain shabby. But it’s no shabbier than many of the public alleys of Brookfield, the majority of which remain unpaved over 110 years after the village was founded.
Brookfield’s gravel alleys are a bigger problem right now than unpaved off-street parking spaces. When they’re graded, the alleys are passable. If it’s been a while since the alleys were graded (especially in the village’s commercial areas), they’re deplorable.
During dry spells, the dust from the alleys is absolutely noticeable to residents, some of whom have had to install air cleaners in their homes just to filter it out. For anyone with a respiratory condition, such as asthma, the alley dust just aggravates it.
The condition of Brookfield’s alleys are the result of another of the village’s timid decision-making regarding its infrastructure. And while no one can turn back the clock and undo that reluctance, there is always the opportunity for the present village government to address it.
And if village officials want residents to improve their private infrastructure situations, the village can at least do the same. A comprehensive alley paving program you ask? Well, why can’t it at least be on the table?
Now, paving all of Brookfield’s alleys would be a mountain of a task. Residents are all too aware of how difficult it was to get streets built in some parts of the village, much less alleys. And there would be the old issue of “fairness.” How does the village institute an alley paving program when residents have in the past been required to form Special Assessment Areas and pay a special tax in return for paving their alley?
Inevitably, the issue will be turned into fodder for political campaigns. But if there’s a practical, comprehensive alley paving plan, we believe residents without a stake in Brookfield’s political wars will be able to judge its merits outside of any highly charged political bickering.
Brookfield really needs to move not just into the 21st century, but the 20th century on the issue of its alleys. Paved alleys aren’t a luxury, and unpaved alleys aren’t quaint. They’re an outdated, unattractive holdover from the days when Brookfield simply didn’t want to incur the expense.
We’re glad that the village would like property owners to upgrade their properties and make them more attractive. Now let’s see if the village can do the same with its own properties. You never know, residents may be ready to help fund an infrastructure project that is so long overdue in Brookfield.