Kudos to state legislators Michael Zalewski and Celina Villanueva, who worked on behalf of Riverside and Brookfield, to bring more than $1 million combined to the villages to help fund local infrastructure projects.
The $650,000 earmarked for Riverside will help pay for improvement of roads and green spaces, and could be the seed money for a more ambitious project for replacing the ill-conceived asphalt walking/bike path that runs along the Des Plaines River in Swan Pond Park.
Too narrow and made from a material not suited to withstand the repeated and now frequent flooding in the park, portions of the path have collapsed, posing a danger to the public and presenting a sorry picture to visitors.
Such a project may take some time to pull together, but there has to be a better, more environmentally sustainable solution to be found. Here’s hoping the village can identify and win one or more grants, perhaps through the state or even the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, to make that improvement a reality.
The $450,000 headed Brookfield’s way will also help improve roads (or, who knows, maybe resurface tennis courts at Ehlert Park). But $250,000 of that sum will go towards making over the fountain at Eight Corners, something that’s sorely needed.
Ever since a 2006 car crash took out the old fountain, residents and visitors have been greeted at Eight Corners by perhaps the saddest trickle of water ever. The fountain is supposed to be the centerpiece of Veterans Memorial Circle. The weak spout is just the start of problem. The fountain itself is – contrary to all standards of military precision – off center, which is very noticeable from the Broadway Avenue approaches.
Placing a fountain worthy of the circle’s name in the center of that structure would go a long way to making a statement at Eight Corners that the village actually cares about that commercial district, which has been become an important area in Brookfield long-range redevelopment plan.
A side benefit of replacing the fountain with something larger and more impressive will be the relocation of the small monuments that now ring the fountain to Veterans Memorial Park at Grand Boulevard and Sunnyside Avenue.
The monuments, which honor veterans of wars from the Spanish-American War onward, are too small and low to the ground to be noticed by passing motorists and, in any case, their present location makes it difficult for anyone to visit.
Improving Veterans Park and including those monuments there will have the benefit of creating a meaningful veterans’ memorial, while also putting an exclamation point on the circle a couple of blocks away.
Without the grants from the state, the projects in Riverside and Brookfield would have been more difficult to accomplish and local tax dollars can now be used to fund village operations instead of these large capital projects.