Brookfield resident Mark Rogers got up Monday night to address a simple question to the village’s board of trustees.
“What’s going on with economic development?” was the essential message of his question. He phrased it as “who owns it,” but the message to those out in the audience — numbering, oh, about four — was clear.
“Anything going on?”
The reason Rogers was asking is that it’s been eight months since the village completed its WBBM-AM radio advertising campaign, which led to a well-attended developer breakfast.
And, of course, it’s been more than a year since “economic development” was the cornerstone issue in the campaign for Brookfield village president.
We’re not sure Brookfield officials understood the spirit of Rogers’ question. The immediate response was to reassure Rogers and the audience that, in fact, discussions regarding economic development are constantly taking place behind the scenes. Deals are being negotiated, but revealing them to the public would risk scotching those delicate plans.
But Rogers and others in the audience know that. That really wasn’t what he was asking. What he’s saying is that there is no information about anything the village is doing regarding economic development available to the public.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
North Riverside is just the closest neighbor where this is surely not the case.
During the North Riverside mayor’s bi-weekly report on economic development, there’s a wealth of information about possible deals in the works. Not done. Being worked on.
For two years, North Riverside kept residents abreast on what was going on with two possible restaurant tenants at the North Riverside Park Mall — Red Lobster and LongHorn Steakhouse.
Neither of them panned out, but it wasn’t because North Riverside blew their cover, but because Red Lobster’s business fortunes and an inability for the mall to work out a lease with LongHorn.
A week ago, the village announced that Miller’s Ale House is now interested in the spot Red Lobster was eyeing. It’s not a done deal, but the info is readily shared.
The same thing is going on with the outlots near the new Costco (information about which was widely discussed before any deal was final). There’s only one guaranteed tenant — disappointingly a cellphone store — but others have been mentioned.
The point is, talking about issues in flux is not always a bad idea. In many cases, it’s good. People want to know.
Heck, look at Ogden Avenue:
Brookfield Burgerwurks packed up and moved out a week ago. What’s up with Las Asadas? Someone has purchased the abandoned car wash; what’s up with that? The upholstery store property has been sold, but the business reportedly is moving to the old Jacob’s Ladder site. Pita Pit is opening next to Dunkin Donuts. The old Nino’s Buona Cucina restaurant property recently went contingent. Brookfield Restaurant (and the properties next to it) is still for sale.
People aren’t looking for all the inside details. They’re just wondering if anyone else is noticing. Residents want this administration to succeed on economic development. Basic information about what’s happening is all they’re really asking for.