The year 2017 might be known as the Year of the Plan in Brookfield. At present there are two simultaneous planning efforts under way, including one for which village officials are actively seeking direct input from residents.
While the planning efforts are happening on parallel tracks right now, the goal is to fold the first – the Active Transportation Plan – into the larger comprehensive plan that is part of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning’s (CMAP) Local Technical Assistance program.
The new comprehensive plan will succeed the Brookfield 2020 Master Plan as the village’s roadmap for future planning.
“We’ll have even stronger input from residents and business owners and we’ll have a great work plan for community and economic development over the next five to 10 years,” said Village Manager Keith Sbiral.
Late last year, a steering committee of about a dozen people formed for the development of a comprehensive plan met with consultants from the firm hired to manage the project, Ratio Design.
In addition to Ratio Design, two other firms are part of the Brookfield comprehensive planning effort. The first is Kimley Horn, which will focus on transportation issues, and Huff and Huff, which specializes in sustainability/natural resources management.
Right now, the CMAP-assisted planning effort is flying under the radar, collecting data and information before beginning to engage directly with residents, probably sometime between late February and April.
Consultants will be spending the entire day on Jan. 30 interviewing about 10 groups of community stakeholders, people involved in such areas as economic development, real estate, neighborhood organizations, utilities planning, business owners and municipal government.
“February, March, April is when the community will see public meetings,’ said Brookfield Village Planner Emily Egan.
And while “town hall” style meetings might be part of that engagement, consultants also will seek to engage residents elsewhere – at community events, local businesses, the commercial areas – where people gather.
There will also be online aspects to gathering input, via surveys. Officials said the aim is to involve residents as much as possible in the process, more than they sought input for the Brookfield 2020 Master Plan.
“If you plan an area without that input, it’s bad practice,” Egan said. “We want to hear from the people out there in the community, who know the [community] more than we do.”
An example of that kind of online community involvement is taking place right now. The Active Transportation Alliance in 2016 awarded a grant to Brookfield to develop an Active Transportation Plan to “create a framework for a safe and accessible network of streets that connect cyclists and pedestrians to destinations, with the goal of creating a safer and healthier lifestyle for all residents.”
The grant followed on the heels of last year’s efforts to promote the village as a bike-friendly destination. In May 2016, the village hosted its inaugural Bike Brookfield event, which will be repeated this year. The village board also passed a “complete streets” policy for future roadway improvement planning, one that takes into account pedestrians and bicyclists in addition to vehicles.
In early January, the village announced that it was seeking resident input online as part of the Active Transportation Plan process. The village has posted a map where residents can leave comments and suggestions for improving pedestrian and bicycle access and safety.
The map can be found at www.communityremarks.com/brookfield. As of Jan. 16, there were more than 40 comments for locations on the map. In addition, residents can participate in an online survey related to transportation planning.
The online survey is in both English and Spanish and includes eight or so questions. There is also space to provide extended comments to explain your answers. The input from both the map and the survey will help form the recommendations in the Active Transportation Plan.
The survey will be up online through February, and a final draft of the Brookfield Active Transportation Plan ought to be complete sometime in May. That is a month before the CMAP comprehensive plan will be complete, but Ratio Design and the Active Transportation Alliance are working to make sure the transportation plan is woven into the comprehensive plan.
“Consultants for the comprehensive plan are working closely with the Active Transportation Alliance to make sure they’re not duplicating efforts and to use that information to go into more depth about parking and transportation,” Egan said.
The CMAP planning process is expected to last throughout 2017. A final draft of the plan could be complete by December, but the expectation is that the village board would adopt the new comprehensive plan in January 2018.