Brookfield trustees Monday voted unanimously to change parking rules on the half-block long stretch of Congress Park Avenue bordering Jaycee/Ehlert Park as a response to resident complaints.
In the works since spring, the new law calls for resident-only parking on the south side of Congress Park Avenue between Prairie and Vernon. It also prohibits parking within 15 feet of the sidewalk on the north side of Congress Park west of Prairie and on Prairie north of Congress Park.
“I’m very happy about it, because it’ll be safer for everybody and not inconvenience people who live here,” said Marie LeGros, who has lived at the corner of Congress Park and Prairie with her husband, Lee, and their children for almost 30 years.
According to LeGros, cars have been crowding Congress Park Avenue for years, even before the area was officially claimed as a park by the village in 2004. Previously, the land was owned by School District 103, but on evenings and weekends, soccer players would come and play pick-up games.
When it was hot out, sometimes they’d ask permission to sit under the LeGros’ trees to catch a rest.
But sometimes cars would also block driveways. And with cars parked on both sides of the street it was sometimes difficult to get in and out of the driveway. And, of course, there were some safety concerns at the corner.
“When all the vans are parked along here and on Prairie, you can’t see around them,” LeGros said.
This spring when the newly reconstructed fields were briefly open, LeGros said she was surprised to see that cars were still parking along Congress Park and not in the new parking lot to the west of the soccer fields.
After the fields were later shut down in order to let the new grass grow, things quieted down a whole lot. But the inconvenience was enough for the LeGros’ neighbor to write a letter, documented with photos about the problem the unwanted cars were having on the area.
“When the cars are on both sides of the street, it’s really tight,” said Brookfield Police Chief Steven Stelter, who said that if an emergency occurred on the north side of the park, it would be very difficult to maneuver an ambulance down Congress Park.
“We decided on the resident-only parking to limit the number of cars and free up clearance so emergency vehicles can get down there,” Stelter said.
Non-Brookfield residents will still be able to park on the north side of Congress Park Avenue.
Neighbors nearby on Vernon Avenue say they don’t expect the change to affect them much.
“We don’t have much problems,” said Safet Keljalic, who lives in the 4400 block of Vernon Avenue near Congress Park.
Keljalic said that the out-of-towners parking in the area don’t bother him much anyway.
“They have to park somewhere if they’re using those fields,” he said. “I know when I go to LaGrange, I have to park somewhere, too.”