About a year ago, we wrote in this space about several important issues facing both Riverside and Brookfield in the coming year. At the time, site clearance at Centennial Park had just commenced and rumors were in the air that the Arcade Building was close to being sold. In addition, while everyone knew some new project would be pitched to replace the old Henninger Pharmacy, nothing had surfaced.

At the time, we hoped that the village could find a way to make Centennial Park the centerpiece for a revitalized downtown Riverside. To date, such a plan has not yet surfaced. Previous discussions over what to do with the park appear to be on hold until the water tower restoration is complete and the village finishes its Transit-Oriented Development study.

As for the two most important commercial properties in downtown Riverside?”the Henninger site and the Arcade Building, no work has begun although plenty of plans have been bandied about. Despite some reservations by nearby residents and a snafu over parking requirements, a plan to add condos to the rear of the Arcade Building looks to have support, though it’s been in limbo for some months.

As the construction season (at least the foundation pouring season) enters its last stage, it appears that work on the Arcade condos may not begin until next year. Meanwhile, the designs presented to the village by the owners of the Henninger property have met with little enthusiasm.

Partially due to design and partially due to scale, developers have not been able to win widespread support for a combination condo/retail development at the site. As the costs mount on the developers’ side, we wonder?”with some trepidation?”what the final result might be. We hope that Riverside doesn’t end up with a code-compliant but second-rate design if the developers finally throw up their hands.

Aesthetically, the difference between the first and second versions of their design is noticeable, and not for the better.

In Brookfield, we targeted a particular idiosyncrasy of the village?”its unpaved alleys. At the time, we called for the village to not only address its street improvement program but begin to come up with a strategy for its alleys.

About a month ago, there seemed to be a glimmer of hope that such an idea might bubble to the surface, but its back on the back burner for now. Perhaps when the village board figures out a strategy to move forward with 2006’s street improvement program, the Infrastructure Subcommittee of the board can begin to debate the subject of alleys.

By this time next year, it would be nice if Brookfield residents could know if paving the alleys can be a reality or remain a pipe dream courtesy of partisan politics.

Last year we also touched upon the subject of Brookfest and its contribution to village life. Previous to last year, much of the debate centered around the cost of the event and the monetary effects of unpredictable weather.

Last year, the fest was profitable by a good margin. The problem in 2004 was, instead, an increase in unruly behavior and a Sunday night fight that ended in a police officer being injured.

Better safety measures appear to have kept that kind of behavior in check for the most part, although there was another Sunday night fight. There’s been no financial
report on this year’s Brookfest, but again we’d ask that the village really find out if this is what residents really want for the $100,000-plus the village spends on the event each year.