Less than a month after public works employees installed new signs restricting parking to two hours along the 9100 and 9200 blocks of Broadway Avenue – and igniting a surprise protest from business owners — the Brookfield Village Board beat a retreat on April 23, saying the signs will come down.
Not only that, village trustees signaled that they will change the rules for parking on Broadway Avenue and in the 3500 block of Maple Avenue. The change will allow parking, with no daytime time restrictions, on the west side of Maple Avenue, next to S.E. Gross Middle School.
The hope is that faculty at the school will park there instead of along Broadway Avenue, leaving more spaces for customers of the businesses there. Right now, parking is prohibited in that stretch of Maple Avenue between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Parking is already allowed during the day on the east side of the 3500 block of Maple Avenue.
Police and fire officials say there’s no reason cars should be prohibited from parking there during the day. A fire lane next to a fire hydrant is already marked on the street, and emergency vehicles can reach the school from many directions.
Village Trustee Ryan Evans, who is also principal of S.E. Gross Middle School, said he also reached out to the Illinois State Fire Marshal to be sure there were no concerns about opening up that side of the street for daytime parking.
“School District 95 has been looking to pursue more parking opportunities to alleviate congestion much as the village is doing,” Evans said.
It was the school district, said Evans, which approached the village about opening up parking on the west side of Maple Avenue.
It’s believed the parking prohibition on Maple Avenue may be a holdover from the time when the school’s main entrance faced the street. The main entrance now faces the parking lot along Broadway Avenue.
“The use of [the entrance] has changed drastically over time,” Evans said. “The entrance to the school is on Broadway, and that will continue with time.”
As for parking along Broadway Avenue, the village is bowing to business owners and will eliminate daytime parking restrictions in the 9100 block of Broadway Avenue that have existed on the books for decades and which the new signs were simply meant to reinforce.
Business owners hit the roof in early April when the new signs appeared in the 9100 block of Broadway, limiting daytime parking to two hours. While overnight parking signs have been displayed along the entire length of Broadway Avenue for years, the signs restricting daytime parking apparently have disappeared over time.
While the village recognized the time restrictions, even without the signs, enforcement of the rules typically was the result of a complaint.
Police Chief James Episcopo told business owners the intent of the new signs was not to begin stricter enforcement, but for the signs to reflect the law on the books. But business owners also complained that the two-hour limit would create a headache for employees and drive some customers away.
It was a reaction that took officials by surprise. The village had gotten complaints about all-day parkers from business owners in the 9200 block of Broadway Avenue, west of the circle.
What officials learned was that businesses on either side of the circle apparently have differing needs for parking.
“When we reinstalled those signs, it seems like we almost created more issues,” said Village President Kit Ketchmark.
East of the circle, in a nod to business owners, daytime parking restrictions will be eliminated completely.
West of the circle, the existing two-hour parking restriction, which extends from Maple Avenue to roughly 9230 Broadway Ave., Dr. Kathleen Schafer’s office, will remain in place.
While agreeing to the change, Trustee Michael Garvey suggested that the businesses may see unintended consequences, like employees of other businesses taking up spaces all day in front of their storefronts.
“If this is what they want right now and this will help them, I’m fine with doing it,” said Garvey, “but knowing we might have to revisit this down the road and monitor the situation and ask business owners to approach staff and the board as they notice problems or trends going forward.”