The Brookfield Public Library Board of Trustees on Thursday will restart its effort to gain approval from the village to build a new library campus at 3541 Park Ave., across the street from the library’s longtime home.
Library officials will go before the Brookfield Plan Commission on Nov. 8 at 6:30 p.m. in the council chamber of Brookfield Village Hall, 8820 Brookfield Ave., seeking the commission’s approval of its revised preliminary planned development application.
Although the Plan Commission recommended approval of the library’s initial application in late summer, the village board remanded the application back to the plan commission after trustees and neighborhood residents expressed concern over traffic circulation.
The library board is seeking approval for a new 38,500-square-foot facility built on the site of the former Brookfield United Methodist Church, a project that’s expected to cost between $9 million and $12 million, according to library officials.
A key part of the proposal is closing a portion of Lincoln Avenue, which runs between the new library site on the north side of the street and a proposed parking lot south of Lincoln Avenue.
Initially, library officials proposed closing Lincoln Avenue immediately west of Oak Avenue. Following questions about how that might affect local traffic, the library has amended the plan. Now the plan calls for closing Lincoln Avenue immediately west of the alley that runs behind Oak Avenue.
Doing so will preserve three on-street parking spots used by neighborhood residents and creates an opportunity to, in effect, extend Oak Avenue to the south around the new library parking lot and connecting it directly with Grand Boulevard.
“I think it’s about as good as the options can get,” said Keith Sbiral, Brookfield assistant village manager and director of building and planning. “I think it’s an improvement.”
The creation of the Oak Avenue extension to Grand Boulevard required planners to eliminate 11 parking spaces from the parking lot, but it retained the campus concept and kept traffic from Grand Boulevard far from the entrance area to the new library.
“From a planning evaluation aspect, it’s not ideal, but in the real world, six months after it’s built, 90 percent of the people will adapt to this,” said Sbiral. “It’s not a game-changer for the neighborhood, the surrounding streets or Grand Boulevard.”
A traffic analysis included with the library’s latest application states that the new configuration will have little impact on traffic congestion in the neighborhood and will improve safety.
“The capacity analyses reveal excellent operation at all of the study intersections under both existing and future conditions,” the study noted. “The proposed closure of Lincoln Avenue … should yield overall benefits within the study area by reducing the number of conflict points for motorists and pedestrians alike.”
Thursday’s plan commission meeting essentially starts anew the approval process for the library’s planned unit development. Library officials will present their plan to the commission, after which residents can give input on the proposal. Residents can also provide written input on the proposal and those submissions will be read into the public record at the hearing.
Plan commissioners will then weigh the testimony and vote to either recommend the plan or not. The village board will have the final word on the preliminary planned development.
The village board could discuss the plan commission’s recommendation as early as Nov. 26 and vote on the plan Dec. 10. If the village board voted to approve the preliminary plan, the library would then return to the plan commission to gain final planned development approval. The village board, again, would have the final say on the plan.
The final planned development application process would get started no sooner than early 2013, and could be delayed even longer should the library be granted an extension of the preliminary plan approval.
Library officials have said it will be 2-5 years before the new campus becomes a reality.