Brookfield’s search for a new community development director drew applications from across the nation, but when the dust settled Village Manager Timothy Wiberg went with someone who has firsthand knowledge of the village’s planning and development goals.
Emily Egan, who served as Brookfield’s village planner from 2015-18 will return Oct. 4 to head the department she once served in. She was one of seven people formally interviewed for the post and the clear favorite, according to Wiberg.
“By far she expressed the most knowledge of Brookfield,” said Wiberg. “But, more than that, Emily has a passion for this community and expressed a desire to implement many of the initiatives she worked on when she was the planner.”
For the past three years, Egan has served as assistant city planner in Elmhurst, where she supervised code enforcement staff, analyzed zoning and development issues and negotiated development agreements, including ones within tax increment financing districts.
During Egan’s time in Brookfield, the village undertook a variety of planning and zoning initiatives that have resulted in developers eyeing the areas near Brookfield’s Metra stations, particularly in downtown Brookfield, where a TIF district also has been established.
“I just think there’s something special about Brookfield,” Egan told the landmark in a phone interview. “I do think a strong foundation has been laid, and I want to be part of the team to build on that momentum.”
Egan, whose annual salary in her new role will be $100,000, was village planner when the Brookfield Comprehensive Plan – and the Active Transportation Plan incorporated in it — was adopted by the village board. She was also on board for the Station Area Zoning Modernization initiative, which overhauled the zoning code to attract redevelopment of the area near the Metra hubs.
Several apartment developments in and around the downtown Grand-Prairie business district have been the result of that effort with others believed to be in the pipeline.
“We still need to update a lot of the code and provide incentives to the business community to capitalize on economic development opportunities,” Egan said. “But I don’t see those so much as challenges, but as opportunities.”
Egan’s plate will be full when she arrives Oct. 4, said Wiberg, jumping into plan and development review, along with Village Planner Kendra Kuehlem, overseeing the permitting process and more.
“We expect her to hit the ground running,” Wiberg said, pointing to the wealth of development experience Egan was exposed to during the past three years. “In terms of experience, Elmhurst has a lot of economic development going on, and she was in the middle of that. We hope to tap into that experience.”
In 2014, Egan graduated with a master’s degree in urban planning and green economic development from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from Grand Valley State University in Michigan.
When she was hired in Brookfield, it was Egan’s first full-time job as a planner. She now has six years of municipal planning experience under her belt.
Egan will also work closely with Cindy Klima, who was hired in July as a part-time economic development coordinator, charged with developing an economic development strategy for Brookfield and providing a roadmap for the village to implement that strategy.
It’s not clear what the future holds long-term for the part-time role, but Wiberg said he expects Egan to partner with Klima on that effort.
“Emily will have a role in creating that economic development plan and develop a logical conclusion for that [effort],” Wiberg said. “What that is remains to be seen.”