To be honest, we don’t know quite how to approach the new downtown planning process that’s about to kick off in Riverside. The last time the village attempted such a plan, it was disemboweled by some of the same people who are now proposing this go at it.
Not that the previous process didn’t have its flaws. Because Metra funded the study, it was immediately looked upon suspiciously as a way for the commuter rail company to drive ridership by pushing for a densely populated downtown area near the tracks.
And, to be sure, that’s what Metra was interested in most of all, itself. But the plan also dealt with such topics as land use, traffic and pedestrian circulation, signage, parking – you know, the usual.
But that plan, which was used as the basis for a push to create a TIF district in downtown Riverside, was dead on arrival. The debate over the TIF killed any positive information the plan might have contained and it has gathered dust on a shelf ever since.
Who knows, maybe this new shot at downtown planning in Riverside will be different. It is being led by a regional planning agency instead of a commercial transportation company. But much of the same ground is going to be covered.
The study will talk about land use, parking and circulation. It will, critically, also include ways to implement such a plan. That’s where the much-detested transit-oriented development study caved in.
Until there’s a final report to present to the village board, it’ll be hard to tell just what that implementation strategy will look like. That ought to be in the board’s hands by November or December.
In the meantime, residents who are interested can attend the public hearings and give their input just as they did back in 2005. The first public meeting will take place on Wednesday, April 11 at 7 p.m. at the township hall.
Watch for hazards
The Brookfield Public Library is still thinking big, or at least bigger, over at the corner of Grand and Lincoln. The library board has agreed to buy the now vacant United Methodist Church and is in the early stages of planning a new building there.
At this point it’s a bit too early to tell exactly what kind of building is being proposed and how exactly the library is planning on funding this ambitious undertaking.
Before getting too deep into the planning, however, we’d suggest that the library board square away any potential objections or zoning issues that such a project might trigger from the village of Brookfield.
The library’s previous attempt at this kind of project was derailed after the library had already sunk $400,000 into the effort by purchasing property it now no longer needs. Before closing on the sale of the property in July, we’d suggest that the library look at a more recent, similar plan for a large scale building in Brookfield – the Methodist church’s own plan to build a new building at Eight Corners.
After more than $1 million was spent acquiring land, the village still shot down the project.
Tread with caution.