Thanks to Brookfield Library visioning participants
I would like to thank the Brookfield residents who joined the library staff and Board of Trustees at Brookfield Zoo for our Visioning Day on Saturday, June 10.

Residents Nancy Prasil, Brigid Weber, Sue Berthel, Colleen Morrissey and C.P. Hall joined us to exercise the idea of what the Brookfield Public Library’s future holds. From the day’s input we will craft the library’s first-ever vision statement, which will provide inspiration, insight and guidance as we move forward. Brookfield is fortunate to have residents that are committed to seeing its public library into the future. I thank them each for their hard work.

Kimberly Litland, director
Brookfield Public Library

Losing ESDA makes Brookfield less safe
May 1, 2006 Brookfield Emergency Services and Disaster Agency (ESDA) was condemned and put to death (“After five decades Brookfield disbands ESDA,” News, May 10).

Months after the death of Brookfield ESDA’s coordinator, Donald Houdek, the village officials decided to kill the volunteer spirit that was left over by Mr. Houdek. No fanfare, no public outcry, the blade of the guillotine fell on the remaining volunteer members. Volunteers all.

How can the village officials say that they are saving money? A few uniforms, some fuel, some hand-me-down World War II vehicles and used squad cars, sweat-equity labor from other towns to help put together a lighting unit. All of these vehicles painstakingly refurbished and maintained by the late Donald Houdek. Yes, that will break the bank! It seems that every time a new village manager gets hired, that person tries to show he or she will save the town money.

Besides the basics of emergency management and the guarantee of continuity of government along with disaster planning and homeland security, the “S” in ESDA stands for “services.” Whether it’s pumping out basements during the floods, opening up shelters (warming, cooling, housing) for residents, providing lighting for fire scenes, police crime scenes, crowd and traffic control, wire watch for electrical lines until ComEd arrives (sometimes overnight until the wee hours of the morning), assisting in drug distribution should there be a pandemic outbreak or biological attack.

All of this relieves the fire department to put all their efforts towards firefighting and the police to do law enforcement and not tie them up. Again, all for free, volunteers!

If Brookfield ESDA was “under utilized,” then shame on your fire and police departments for not using the gift they had. The village is negotiating with the City of Countryside to take over emergency management responsibilities. What is the cost of this “outsourcing” your Emergency Services going to cost you now?

The City of Countryside isn’t going to take over this big responsibility for free. How many members do they have? Are there enough to cover both the City of Countryside and the Village of Brookfield should a severe storm or tornado hit them both? One pat of butter for two loaves of bread! Will Brookfield have to pay Countryside members since those Countryside members aren’t volunteers? They’re paid employees. Oh yes, big savings here! Or is it a conflict of interest? Where do the loyalties go? Hmm? How safe do the residents feel now?

Talk to other towns that have a volunteer ESDA or Emergency Management Agency (EMA). Ask their police and fire departments if having a dedicated volunteer group is cost effective or a burden. Most, if not all, would say that ESDA/EMA is a big relief on their manpower requirements. Many towns have had to cut out overtime from the police and fire departments and the use of ESDA/EMA volunteers helps.

The obituary should say “please omit flowers, send donations to the City of Countryside to protect the Village of Brookfield! It’s not politics, it’s just business.”

Michael Muto

Allow 6-foot fences in Brookfield
I was pleased to read that the Village of Brookfield is considering a change to the fence ordinance (“Brookfield trustees mulls changing code for fences,” News, June 14). The current version of the ordinance allows a 4-foot solid side yard fence on substandard lots, which happen to be the majority of lots in the town. This is just not acceptable.

Some of the trustees express concern of creating a “walled off” effect, but the majority of us that live in these small lots are living in a fishbowl. Most of us can stand in a yard in the middle of the block and see clear down to either end of the block, and not everyone likes what they see. This is akin to the village board ruling against window shades and drapes. The fact that the mandated shorter fencing is more expensive just adds insult to injury.

It’s time to vote out an ordinance that forces us to live in a fishbowl. Give us the tools to make our yard a nicer place to live. Allow us to erect a 6-foot fence if we want one.

Eric Wahlstrom

Brookfield’s Building Department is in disarray
The Brookfield Building Department has deteriorated into a rather dysfunctional entity. Consider some recent moves and decisions.

A three-story structure (4500 Maple Ave.) is permitted to be built where the zoning clearly only allows 2.5 stories. A building inspector and a code enforcement inspector are fired, leaving only one building inspector for the entire village.

Keith Sbiral is hired for $93,000-plus and put in charge of the Code Department with virtually no experience in that discipline. He is named assistant village manager, and at the Brookfield village board meeting June 12, he is appointed treasurer. He has no financial background.

He is currently proposing a ludicrous change in Brookfield’s fence ordinance which, in some cases, would all back-to-back fences on a property line with 24 inches between them.

A residence at 3318 Elm Ave. is virtually torn down (only three bare walls are left up) and it is allowed to be reconstructed and an addition added, clearly contrary to Brookfield’s ordinance.

An intern is hired to codify Brookfield’s building and zoning code, a task which should have been assigned to the new director.

When is the village going to hire a professional building and zoning director and structure that department to protect Brookfield’s property values?

Wilfred Brennan