With a couple of Brookfield residents asking that the village address an alley problem it largely created many years ago — when it paved a portion of the alley with asphalt and then let it go to pot — now seems as good a time as any to reintroduce the subject of paving alleys.
Most of the village’s alleys, as anyone who has had to drive down a gravel pathway in winter or after a rainstorm can attest, are miserable.
For whatever reason, the village’s leaders going back decades never thought it important enough to type in “alley paving” on a capital improvement plan. As a result, we’re here in the 21st century with 19th-century alleys.
We know what the problem is from the village’s perspective: Paving alleys is expensive.
In recent years, the policy has been that the property owners bordering an alley sign a petition and then agree to pay a special assessment over a period of years. The village pays for the engineering and design costs while the residents pay for construction.
That’s a solution of a sort, but it’s not a great one. There hasn’t been an alley paved in Brookfield in the past five years.
We’re not suggesting the village take on the entire cost without passing the expense along to taxpayers. In truth, that’s where large municipal infrastructure projects get funded. Progress isn’t free.
There will be those who howl — that they had to pay a special assessment and now everyone else is getting alleys at a discount. First, no one knows what the cost would be over how many years to any village property owner for such a large project. It’s likely the village would have to attack the problem in small bites, through bond issues, perhaps backed by a fee attached to waste removal.
But small bites are better than no bites and to continue living with these gravel monstrosities forever seems a cruel fate.
The alleys need attention. Who has the fortitude to tackle the problem?