The moment the Brookfield Public Library board has been waiting for is finally arriving. On Dec. 10, the village’s board of trustees will vote on the preliminary development plan for a new library campus. It’s the key vote in the process.
While the library board will still need to go through the final planned development process, voting in favor of the preliminary plan paves the way for what will be more or less a formality.
Never has a final planned unit development application failed to gain approval by the Brookfield village board. For all intents and purposes, the preliminary plan approval is the linchpin.
What residents should understand, however, is that village board approval of the development plan does not necessarily mean that the new library campus is a done deal.
Oh sure, it means the library will be moving forward with the purchase of the church property and that the library board will be formulating its strategy to make the new campus happen.
A new library campus is projected to cost between $9.5 and $12 million. As of May, the library had reported cash reserves of $2.4 million and officials said they could fund up to $7.5 million without having to go to referendum.
Any more than that, and voters would be asked to approve additional funding to build the library campus.
That’s what makes the time extension the library has asked for so interesting. Seven years is an awful long time for development plans to sit on the drawing board. But seven years also gives the library additional time to accumulate cash and gives it time to sell a possible referendum to voters. It certainly also builds a time cushion for any referendum attempts that fail.
What should be clear to anyone who uses the Brookfield Public Library now is that the last time the library board sold a new library to the community, they blew it. The present library has always been too small and has required hundreds of thousands of dollars in improvements to make it workable since it was built in the 1980s.
It’s understandable, therefore, that the community would be wary of ponying up for another library, but at least the plan on the drawing board is a good one.
That’s what the village board needs to take into consideration on Dec. 10 as they vote on whether to approve the plan. Is it an appropriate plan? We think it is.
Village President Michael Garvey is right when he says it’s not the job of the village board to opine on the library’s strategic plan, just its development plan. And from a planning perspective, the proposal on the table addresses quality design, scale, parking, traffic circulation, stormwater runoff, green space.
As a concept, the plan meets any of the development standards one could ask, and it should be an easy call for trustees to approve this preliminary planned development application.
Is it a plan the library can sell to the community? That remains to be seen.