Commuter shares thoughts on collision
This letter is in regards to the recent tragedy that the Oak Park community experienced with the death of Patricia Quane. Although I was not an eyewitness, I was present at the Riverside train station when this tragedy occurred. I hope that sharing my recollection of events will help Ms. Quane’s family and friends process this loss.

In Riverside, the Burlington Northern rail line has three sets of train tracks. Metra typically uses the south and north tracks for boarding passengers and the center track is used for express trains. On the morning of Aug. 23, the south track, which is normally the track used to board commuter trains to Chicago, was occupied by a derailed freight train. The derailed train was situated just west of Longcommon Road, which is the railroad crossing. A repair crew, with a crane mounted on a railcar, was lifting a railcar of this freight train.

When the 7:48 commuter train pulled into the station, it was on the center track. The grade crossing gate went down and the crossing bells and lights were working. The train stopped so that the first car was situated in the Longcommon Road grade crossing (the engine was at the back of the train).

The stopped train did not completely block the crossing?”there was an opening where all three sets of tracks could be crossed at the east end of the grade crossing. When the doors of the first car opened, the conductor motioned for all the passengers to board through the doors of this first car. The crowd waiting on the platform, moved towards Longcommon Road, crossed behind the deployed crossing gates, and began boarding the train.

This was unfamiliar boarding for us, in terms of both procedure and location. Approximately 100-150 people began to board the train through one door in the middle of the railroad crossing. As I headed toward the open door, I suddenly heard a train whistle, followed by another longer whistle.

It was then that I became aware that a third train, an express train, was passing eastbound through the station on the north track. This train was completely blocked from my line of vision by the 7:48 train that we were boarding. Shortly after this, I learned that this express train had hit someone. I can only speculate that this unusual set of circumstances was related to Ms. Quane’s death.

I hope that this recollection of events is helpful in understanding this tragedy. I want to extend my deepest sympathy to Ms. Quane’s family, friends, and colleagues.

James A. Hill

PEP board breaking the Brookfield bank
There is an interesting story in the Village of Brookfield’s 2005-06 budget. The PEP-controlled village board approved a budget last month supposedly based on their campaign promises and financial philosophy, although one has to question their motives and at what cost.

Fiscal year 2005-06 will have $1,716,600, or 8.9 percent more revenue than fiscal year 2004-05. This is in large part due to increased per-capita state funds and the elimination of the Special Service Area reimbursement. Since last year’s budget was a balanced budget (revenues actually exceeded expenses by $50,000), it would appear that allowing for salary adjustments, it would be a fairly simple task to generate a balanced budget with no reduction in village services. But the PEP-controlled board, in stark contradiction to their campaign promises about fiscal responsibility, is in the process of breaking the bank.

The village manager and department heads inflated their financial needs and numerous pork items were inserted into the budget. Some of these items are or will eventually be needed, but one has to question the motive for obtaining them all at once. The only alternative, to balance to budget and include these items, was to lay off employees. Not too coincidentally, all of the laid off employees were hired during the Bill Russ VIP administration.

A very interesting sleight of hand was to transfer funds from the water/sewer fund ($764,450)and garbage fund ($108,650). Trustees Garvey and Ketchmark voted against this very same type of transfer at a Brookfield village board meeting on April 26, 2004, citing Village Ordinance 28.28, which requires that any transfer of funds from these funds has to be done by declaring a surplus in those funds.

Garvey stated at that meeting, “I have problems violating village ordinances doing transfers.” There has been no action taken by the village board which would have legitimized these transfers.

Some highlights from this year’s budget: $395,700 to repair Ehlert Park parking lots; $155,000 for a new ambulance; $125,000 for an aerial lift truck for the Forestry Department; $40,000 for a skid loader for Public Works; $80,000 for a new dump truck for Public Works; $500,000 for new water meters; $23,000 for improvements to the oak savannah in Kiwanis Park; $40,000 to update and codify village codes; $18,950 to replace four portable radios; $5,570 to replace pagers; $22,500 for janitorial service (previously done by Public Works employees); $11,700 for the historic train station; $20,000 for design/engineering for the pedestrian bridge; $150,000 to replace the pedestrian bridge; $50,000 for replace two shelters at the Prairie Avenue train station; $5,000 for fence replacement at Creekside Park; $5,500 for rail station cleaning (previously done by Public Works); $11,000 to resurface Ehlert Park tennis courts; $1,500 for a mirrored wall at the recreation hall; $7,500 for Oktoberfest (is this even being held?); $135,890 for Brookfest; and $265,000 in anticipated legal bills (almost exactly $20,000 over legal costs last year).

And $000.000 for the 2006 residential street rehab program.

Wilfred Brennan