The Brookfield village board is set to vote next week on a proposal from Riverside-Brookfield High School and the Brookfield Zoo to add parking and a cul-de-sac to Rockefeller Avenue this summer in an effort to redirect school traffic from residential areas.
Village Manager Riccardo Ginex explained at the board’s May 29 Committee of the Whole meeting that the zoo and high school were seeking village approval for a complete reconstruction of the block of Rockefeller Avenue directly west of RB. The plan would add about 80 perpendicular parking spaces, as well as a cul-de-sac at the intersection of Rockefeller and Hollywood avenues to direct traffic from the school back to Golf Road and ultimately Washington Avenue.
Ginex said the zoo and RB first brought the proposal to the village last year, as the high school was in the midst of planning its current redevelopment project. At the time, village administrators rejected the idea based on fears that the cul-de-sac would limit access for emergency vehicles.
Changes to RB’s construction plans have shifted the village’s position, however. Plans for an RB parking garage were abandoned in January, and the school’s new main entrance, to be located along Golf Road, was redesigned to include a drop-off point for cars just in front of the main doors.
Village President Michael Garvey said this new design would shift traffic patterns, with more cars exiting the school onto Rockefeller and traveling through residential areas.
“When we saw the plans for RB and their anticipation of a turn-around and drop-off point for the school, we immediately became concerned again for residents and the potential for very heavy traffic flow,” Garvey said. “We feel this will provide added benefit to residents by keeping more of that traffic in these parking areas.”
Meanwhile, Brookfield Zoo will gain a separate entrance for its delivery vehicles, via Rockefeller Avenue, which will allow access to the zoo’s Hollywood Avenue gate. Currently all zoo delivery vehicles must be routed through the South Gate, which also serves as an entrance for zoo patrons.
Garvey also noted that the village would not be paying for the project. Under the agreement, although the village will pay for the project up front, RB will reimburse the village for the estimated $295,000 in construction costs. The village will, however, be gaining revenue from the new parking area, for which it will sell quarterly parking permits.
Administrators’ original concerns about access for emergency vehicles has been addressed in the new proposal with the addition of depressed curbs in one section of the cul-de-sac. Ginex also noted that administrators from the village, school and zoo met with residents on May 1, and most seemed to support the plan.
“We talked to a number of residents, spelled their questions out, and it seems we got a pretty positive response for going ahead with the project,” he said.
If the board approves the plan at their meeting June 11, Ginex said construction would begin as soon as possible, with the hope of having it completed by the end of the summer.
RB Superintendent/Principal Jack Baldermann said the project was already included in the school’s original construction budget, and the zoo would also be contributing additional landscaping for the area around the cul-de-sac. He added that the project would provide much-needed parking space for the school.
“We’re willing to do anything to make sure the village and residents are happy,” he said. “We really need that parking, it’s very important to the future of RB.”