Brookfield will complete a comprehensive overhaul of its computer systems this spring, setting the stage for online recreation registration and more.

Village trustees on March 11 are expected to approve spending a little less than $26,000 to purchase new computer software for the Brookfield Recreation Department, which has been working with a homemade database system. The database system was created after the village’s ancient IBM mainframe computer suffered a catastrophic failure last July.

The software is coming from a company called Vermont Systems, whose products are widely used by recreation departments and park districts throughout the area, including Riverside and North Riverside.

“They meet and exceed all our needs, and it leaves us room to grow,” Arlene Rovner, a recreation department employee, told trustees at the village board meeting on Feb. 25.

The installation of the software will wrap up a near half-million-dollar technology infrastructure project in village hall. Brookfield began migrating from its old mainframe system more than a year ago with the installation of new financial management software.

While the new software training and implementation was expected to take about 10 months, the schedule was squeezed after the mainframe blew last July. By last fall, the only piece not yet in place was the recreation department.

Village trustees on March 11 are expected to waive the competitive bidding process and accept Vermont Systems’ proposal, one of five software proposals reviewed by staff.

“I think, bottom line, is we’ve come a long way,” said Keith Sbiral, Brookfield’s assistant village manager who led the technology effort.

Sbiral said he hopes to get the software installed prior to the summer recreation registration period so residents can begin to sign up for classes and programs online. The software will also be integrated with the village’s financial management software, meaning residents will be able to pay for programs online as well.

Brookfield will get rid of the state of Illinois’ e-pay program, which it currently uses to take online payments. That means residents will no longer have to pay an additional fee to pay online and residents will also be able to use Visa cards to pay online, something e-pay didn’t offer.

“The biggest thing here is the integration with the finance department,” said Sbiral. “The ability to pay with a credit card online is key,” Sbiral said.

The new online payment function will be fully integrated by early summer, said Sbiral. In addition to paying for recreation registration, residents will also be able to pay online for water bills, vehicle stickers, permits and fines.

Recreation department staff will also now be able to track not just program registration online but everything from field scheduling to picnic permits, insurance and liquor license information and park maintenance.

“It will be far easier to do and easier to eliminate conflicts,” said Sbiral.

The implementation of the recreation software will also allow the village to provide other online tools for residents, said Sbiral, including the ability to report nuisance issues such as burned-out streetlights and potholes and will provide a way for residents to track the village’s progress on getting those issues fixed.

“This will make things so much more efficient, so much simpler,” said Sbiral. “Once we get the interaction with residents in place, they’ll really notice the difference.”

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