At first glance, the complaints of neighbors over on the 3800 block of Arthur Avenue in Brookfield seems like a very localized issue. The problem? There’s a business that’s doing well enough and has hired so many employees, its tiny onsite parking can’t accommodate them. Inevitably, the employees have been parking their vehicles on the residential street, to the daily annoyance of the people who live there.
But parking issues aren’t new to that area. Over several years, the village board has reacted to resident complaints about commuters parking on other residential streets near the Congress Park train platform. The board has responded by restricting parking in the morning, shooing the commuters to other blocks or options.
What seems clear to us, however, is that this isn’t just a localized issue. At least it won’t be localized in the future, if the area along the railroad tracks develops the way officials hope.
Brookfield earlier this year laid the groundwork for the redevelopment of the BNSF corridor. Of course, it takes two to tango and developers have to get on board, but there are opportunities here to gaze into the future and see where parking might become a real issue.
The village doesn’t have a lot of parking facilities for commuters or employees. There are a couple of commuter lots – the one at the village hall and a smallish one near the Congress Park station that’s only a temporary solution, since that lot is destined to become part of a larger development in the future.
A developer has already pitched a residential development there, which includes parking for the residents of the development. We have not seen any plans that might also provide some sort of parking opportunity for commuters and employees. Especially in the Congress Park station area, that kind of parking is needed.
Of course, residents don’t want their streets taken up all day with the vehicles of commuters and employees. But if the village wants and is encouraging commercial redevelopment, then parking for employees and visitors has to be part of the equation.
While the new form-based code approved by the village board along the rail corridor addresses parking, the village might want to begin proactively identifying opportunities to develop shared parking along the corridor.
The presence of the business at Southview and Arthur already makes clear the need for parking, even before redevelopment. Choking off parking to employees and commuters will simply make Brookfield a less attractive place for redevelopment.
We’re guessing that the village board will vote to restrict parking in the 3700 and 3800 blocks of Arthur Avenue to placate residents there. That’s fine as far as it goes, but those employees are still going to come to work and find somewhere to park, likely in front of someone else’s house. And they won’t be happy either.
So, this rail corridor microcosm at Arthur and Southview could be the trigger for a more comprehensive look at parking – not just from an on-street restriction point of view, but from the point of view of identifying key locations for parking as the redevelopment of the rail corridor moves ahead.