The Village of Brookfield and Riverside-Brookfield High School appear headed toward an agreement that would transform a public street into a parking lot for the school. The $230,000 project will be completed later this summer and will be in place when construction on the school’s major renovation effort really gets rolling in 2007.

Just what sort of impact this is going to have on the surrounding residential neighborhood isn’t clear. There’s almost sure to be some increased vehicle traffic heading east and west down Rockefeller Avenue on school days.

Village administrators are downplaying that increase and say they’ll wait and see just what the future brings. Fair enough. The village also maintains that it will benefit from the additional revenue from parking permits for the 108 spaces.

The school will benefit, since it will gain additional parking without having to add a costly second deck to a parking structure planned to go north of the school on Golf Road.

We’d like to propose that as a way to cut down on traffic problems on Rockefeller going west, that the Rockefeller lot be designated primarily as a staff/faculty lot. Since teachers and other staffers won’t all be leaving or arriving at the building the same time students are, it could alleviate some of the traffic impact on the surrounding residential area.

Of course, the big winner in all of this is the Brookfield Zoo. In the past several months, the zoo has been able to win a number of important concessions from the village and the school district.

The zoo owns the land directly north of RB High School. For decades, the school has been able to use that land free of charge. That’s no longer the case. The school agreed earlier this school year to pay $10,000 for use of the land that now serves as the student parking lot.

The school is also paying the $2 million bill for a parking deck that will go on that land. While the school will use it for parking during the school year, it will also serve as parking for the zoo on weekends and during the summer months.

The Village of Brookfield is also prepared to give Brookfield Zoo truck access to a gate at the north end of Hollywood Avenue via the new Rockefeller Avenue parking lot. Currently, delivery trucks enter the zoo through the south admission gate and must pass two checkpoints. The new set-up would ensure a one-stop delivery process.

While everyone seems to be benefiting from the arrangement, it’s clear that the entity which can afford it the most?”Brookfield Zoo?”is paying the least for all of this extra parking and access.

One safety concern that hasn’t been addressed is that when the new Rockefeller Avenue parking lot is complete, there won’t be a sidewalk on the north side of the street. People who park to the north will either have to cross the lot to the south or?”more likely?”walk through the middle of the lot on their way to the zoo or the school.

How about Brookfield Zoo kicking in to provide land and money to accommodate a north sidewalk that would benefit its patrons who may park on Rockefeller during peak seasons?

It never hurts to ask.