It’s impossible to drive fast through the Hollywood section of Brookfield, at least without hitting either a car or a curb. Not only are the streets narrow and curving (apparently for decorative rather than practical purposes), they are dotted with islands.
Place parked cars on both sides of the street – and around those darn islands – and the streets of Hollywood become an obstacle course, forcing motorists sometimes to go the wrong way around an island just to get down the street.
Brookfield’s village board is now contemplating a recommendation by its Public Safety Committee to try and remedy some of those problems, and trustees want to have the new restrictions, if any, in place by the end of October, before snow starts falling.
The Public Safety Committee has recommended one-side-of-the-street parking (the side without fire hydrants) on Rosemear, Hollywood, Woodside and McCormick avenues between Washington and Southview avenues. In addition, the committee has recommended prohibiting parking on both sides of the streets surrounding 10 islands scattered in the roadways around Hollywood.
There are one-side parking restrictions currently in place on Arden Avenue and McCormick Avenue between Brookfield and Washington Avenues and on parts of Riverside Avenue south of the tracks.
Parking is permitted around the islands in Hollywood, although parking there is rare due to the narrow pathways around many of them. But cars often park close enough to the islands cause problems.
If an emergency vehicle can’t navigate around an island, they will simply drive over them, which can make for a bumpy ride for anyone being transported to the hospital in an ambulance.
“The committee feels that parking on both sides of the islands causes a major disruption in the flow of traffic as well as emergency and public works vehicles,” wrote Police Chief Steven Stelter in a memo to Village Manager Riccardo Ginex in August.
“The second issue involves limiting parking to one side of the street only. It is the belief that implementing this will improve response time for emergency vehicles.”
As in the rest of Brookfield, the issue of parking is tied to snow plowing and, ultimately, public safety. It is difficult enough for emergency vehicles to get down the streets in Brookfield that are straight when there are cars parked on both sides. On the curving streets of Hollywood, it’s even more of a problem.
Add snow to the mix, and streets where cars are parked on both sides simply become impassable to larger vehicles, such as fire engines and ambulances. That was illustrated back in the late 1990s, said Fire Chief Patrick Lenzi during a fire response outside of Hollywood.
“Back in November of 1998 we responded to a fire in a second-floor apartment near the intersection of Lincoln and Vernon. … We did have a victim trapped on the second floor,” said Lenzi, who favors the one-side restriction in Hollywood.
“The first engine got in there no problem coming in from the north side, but the truck that was going to take the front of the building was delayed because he hit a parked car. I was driving the second engine. I saw that there was no way he was going to make it through, so I parked on Prairie and I hoofed it in on foot. … So you’re losing precious seconds.”
While trustees don’t appear completely opposed to the one-side parking restrictions on Hollywood’s north-south streets, there appears to be some opposition to adding more restrictions to accommodate snow plows. Trustee Ryan Evans also said he was concerned that signs already prohibiting parking on one side of the street on street-sweeping days and after heavy snowfalls would result in parking being prohibited completely on north-south streets on those days.
“I don’t think that’s where we want it to go,” said Evans, who indicated he supported the parking prohibition around the islands. “At this point I do not favor replacing those signs.”
Public Safety Committee Chairman Roy Lehto said that residents would be able to park on east-west streets in Hollywood, such as Parkview and Greenview avenues, which would continue to allow parking on both sides of the street, at those times.
Trustee Michael Towner, who supported a community-wide change in parking rules, said he supported the proposed one-side rule.
“I’m all for one-side-of-the-street parking,” Towner said. “I don’t want residents to lose time in getting help. Bite the bullet. The first year it’s an inconvenience and an uproar, the second year it’s a way of life.
Trustee Kit Ketchmark said he was somewhat concerned about the number of signs the proposed recommendation would require. He figured that the village would need 160 new signs.
“I don’t see the need to put up an exorbitant number of signs if we don’t need to,” said Ketchmark. “Let’s deal with the ones we have to, where it’s obviously a problem.”