A wish list was discussed for a new recreation center at a Brookfield meeting Nov. 2, though the group designated to push forward the plan continued to stall on the project.
The village Parks and Recreation Commission discussed what they’d like to see for the facility, such as space for senior programs, a teen center, a weight room, gymnasium, classrooms, an indoor and/or outdoor pool and offices for recreation staff.
“The high school is talking about building one, Lyons is talking about building one, let’s get ahead of the curve,” said Commissioner Matthew Joseph at the meeting. “There’s been too much talk, we need to do it. Let’s make history.”
However, the discussion moved no further than a very similar discussion held Aug. 3 regarding the center, and no direction was given at last week’s meeting. It’s been four years since many residents said in a survey that not only do they desire a rec center, they’re willing to pay higher taxes to build one, said village staff.
The commission is unanimous that a center should be built. The strongest voice is Joseph, who said he’s made it his goal to bring a new recreation center to the village.
Joseph said he will continue to discuss the center with Peter Dyke, whose firm, Thompson, Dyke and Associates, serves as a planning consultant for the recreation department. The center could be built on the northwest corner of Jaycee/Elhart Park, at Congress Park and Elm avenues, said the commission.
“I think it’s overdue for Brookfield to have a rec center,” said commission Chairman David LeClere “We have the land for it. I think it would benefit us immensely.”
However, LeClere made no motion to allocate any resources or personnel to the plan, and stressed that Dyke has not been hired for the project.
“I’ll talk to Peter to find out how much pro bono he’ll go,” Joseph said.
Since the commission is merely an advisory board with no power to levy taxes, funding for recreation center operations would fall to the village board.
Michael Towner, a trustee who serves as a liaison to the commission, said it’s possible a rec center could be built, but it’s at least two years down the road. He said he’s for it, especially if a zero-depth pool for children could be included.
The village could apply for a state or federal grant for assistance with the project, or just go for a referendum, he said.
“A good center would probably cost about $3.5 million to $5 million,” Towner said.
The village hasn’t had a referendum for the 12 years he’s been on the board, he said, though a library board millage to increase funding passed last year.
With handling finances a hot issue between the political party that dominates the board and the party that lost this year’s elections, it’s going to be hard to gain the residents’ trust, Towner said.
“The first thing you have to do is show people that we’re spending the money correctly that we’re getting now,” he said.
Joseph said he knows what kind of timeline should be used to create the center. He hopes to have it built in three years, when his service on the commission is up. He said he doesn’t plan on serving again.
“We have to figure out what groups would use the center. Then we take these ideas back to Dyke, we figure out what kind of building could be done. Then we hold a regular or special meeting and invite people in to give us input on what they like. We again take that back and start putting together some concrete numbers on how much it would cost to build, and run, the facility,” Joseph said said.
Commissioner Diane McClellan said she’d rather have activity classrooms and programs for teens and seniors than a fitness facility, which may also be built at Riverside Brookfield High School through a proposed referendum. The school is considering the construction of a fieldhouse with basketball courts, a few track lanes and weight rooms.
“We instead want to create a center for the whole community to use,” McClellan said.