If Brookfield ever begins to make inroads into realizing its master plan, one of the issues that will continue to raise its head is that of parking. Right now, we’re specifically referring to parking in and around the Grand/Prairie commercial district.

The master plan sees this area as one in which multifamily buildings?”condos, townhomes and the like?”complement a range of pedestrian friendly businesses, such as restaurants. The proximity to the Metra line makes the area a particularly good draw for those who commute downtown.

But if the master plan is to become a workable reality, then addressing parking in a more comprehensive manner has got to become part of the equation.

Brookfield should note that in Riverside’s Transit-Oriented Development plan, which was recently completed and adopted by the village’s Board of Trustees, parking and traffic circulation is addressed at length. While parking and circulation is discussed in the Brookfield master plan, it misses the larger problem of everyday parking and access on narrow streets such as Forest Avenue (to name just one) in favor of focusing on parking for commuters, of which there is, at present, plenty.

Over the past three years, there have been several significant developments proposed for the Grand/Prairie area?”a townhome development at 3700 Prairie Avenue, a townhome development in the 3700 block of Sunnyside Avenue, a four-story condo building at the northern end of the 3700 block of Grand Boulevard and most recently, an 18-unit development in the 3600 block of Forest Avenue.

During deliberations on each one of those projects, the issue of parking was at the forefront. Without fail, the question “Where will visitors park?” made its way into the discussion. Every single project?”with the exception of the development slated for the 3600 block of Forest Avenue (which hasn’t been voted on yet)?”was killed.

If parking is such a horrendous issue that no development can take place because of the fear of congested streets, then implementing the master plan is in for some rough times. Should Brookfield consider providing more opportunities for offstreet parking? Should Brookfield seek to regulate on street parking or suggest one-way traffic to address congestion on its narrow streets?

All these issues ought to be on the table as Brookfield tries to find a way to accommodate appropriate development in a key commercial area of the village, while allowing residents and visitors to traverse streets and parking their vehicles with some sort of ease.

It would be a shame if Brookfield simply waved away all efforts at commercial and attractive mixed-use development simply because people are afraid it might be tough to find a parking space.

There is more proposed development coming down the pike (including a development closer to the Hollywood Metra stop), so this issue isn’t going away soon. The sooner Brookfield can wrap its arms around the issue of parking and traffic circulation in the downtown area, the better.