Fewer than 20 residents turned out to the first of two public forums on parking hosted by the Brookfield Public Safety Committee last week at Congress Park School. The meeting, which re-started an effort to gather input and craft a village-wide street parking plan, broke little new ground.

Village officials in April 2010 recommended that street parking be allowed only on the north and east sides of the street. Further, they recommended that no parking at all be allowed during snow emergencies, defined as three or more inches of snow, and on street sweeping days.

The Public Safety Committee held a couple of meetings on the topic last year, but the effort fizzled until February, when a near-record snowfall put the issue back in the spotlight.

Still, at the committee’s forum on March 22, several residents had the same question. Where does the village expect all of the cars currently parked on the streets to go?

“Both sides of the street are filled up with cars,” said Mary Johnson, who lives in the 3200 block of Park Avenue. “There’s no way you can put all of the cars on the east side of the street.”

Sean Shanahan, a resident of Henrietta Avenue, said his property doesn’t have a proper garage. The one-car garage he does have was originally, according to local lore, a chicken coop.

With no place to park, Shanahan said that if he ever wanted to sell his house, which is on a 25-foot lot, it’d be difficult.

“Who’s going to want to buy my home if the ability to park is so restrictive?” he asked.

Others, like Jim Carlson, who lives on Park Avenue near Ogden, said that the village needed to do something, although he’s not sure there’s a one-size-fits-all solution.

“I live on a very narrow street, with cars parked up and down the block all day long,” Carlson said. “Our street didn’t get plowed for three days, because cars didn’t get moved.”

Recently, Carlson said, there was an ambulance call on the block. Because of the cars on the street, the ambulance remained parked in the middle of Park Avenue blocking traffic for a half hour.

“Maybe you should look at this on a street-by-street basis, because some streets [like Prairie Avenue] have plenty of room,” Carlson said.

That sentiment was echoed by Allen Goodcase, who lives in the 8900 block of Shields Avenue.

“I think it should take into account the different street widths, and put them in different classes and treat them differently,” Goodcase said. “It should also take into account things like driveways. Having a blanket rule for the town I don’t think is a good idea.”

Al Kitzer, superintendent of public works for Brookfield, said that parking rules like the ones being recommended could work in Brookfield.

“It’s been proven in Lyons that it’s worked for several years,” Kitzer said.

Lyons allows parking on one side of the street at all times, except during snow emergencies and street sweeping. The proposed recommendation is less restrictive than places like LaGrange, Western Springs, Oak Park and Riverside, which do not allow overnight street parking.

Police Chief Steven Stelter said that instituting the new rules would prod people who have garages to use them for parking, which would free up spots on the street for those without garages.

“The thinking is that if garages are freed up for vehicles, then people without the ability to park can find a spot on the street,” Stelter said.

During snow emergencies, when no parking would be allowed, one resident suggested the village either clear public lots or work out deals with private lot owners, such as churches, to allow parking on a temporary basis.

“Consideration of using public parking in off-street emergencies is a good idea,” Kitzer said.

Second parking forum slated for May 24

If you missed last week’s meeting of the Public Safety Committee and want to chime in on parking in Brookfield, the committee is scheduled to meet again on Tuesday, May 24 at S.E. Gross Middle School, 3524 Maple Ave.

The time is tentatively listed at 6 p.m. However, that could change following a suggestion by a resident at last week’s meeting that it be moved to a later time.