A little more than a month after a car hit a patch of ice and skidded into the front of a home at the corner of 31st Street and Forest Avenue in Brookfield, the village’s public works department has deposited a barrier in the parkway to prevent it from happening again.
Now sitting in the most likely path of an out-of-control vehicle, between the roadway and the house, is a 5,000-pound insurance policy – a hefty chunk of limestone, about 5-by-5-feet wide and 2-feet tall.
The village acted not just because the home’s owner, Kevin Will, asked what might be done to safeguard his home, which he shares with his wife and their small child, but also because the April 19 crash was the second time a vehicle has plowed into the home.
Will contacted the village manager’s office about a solution, and Megan Shilney, the assistant to the village manager, worked with public works to find one.
“Staff did a wonderful job in terms of community outreach with the resident,” said Jay Dalicandro, who is serving as Brookfield’s interim management consultant until a new village manager is hired.
Parkway barriers protecting houses from vehicles are not uncommon, especially at T intersections, where impaired drivers at night sometimes fail to react in time. That’s not the case at 31stStreet and Forest Avenue, but ice on the bridge over Salt Creek has twice sent cars spinning out of control towards the small brick home, both times striking the area near the front door.
Public works foreman Victor Janusz, who was tasked with finding a solution, said he needed something that wouldn’t obstruct motorists’ vision and thought landscaping boulders might have been possible. However, they can be expensive and can still roll after being hit.
“When I heard the family had an 18 month old, I really took it to heart,” said Janusz of the fear of a future crash. “I would hate for something to happen.”
Janusz ended up contacting Jeff Hrachovsky, plant manager at Hanson Material Service, who oversees the quarry on 47th Street in McCook. On the floor of the quarry, about 320 feet below ground, Janusz saw what he believed to be the perfect candidate.
Price was still a concern, said Janusz.
“Jeff said, ‘How about we give it up for the low-low price of nothing,” Janusz said.
And a few days before the Memorial Day weekend, Janusz was back at the quarry with a front-end loader and a truck to pick up the rock and drive it 31st and Forest.
“I had met with the homeowner and we talked about what the best placement, and we determined [in the parkway to the left of an existing telephone pole] was the best spot,” Janusz said.