Brookfield officials are looking for input from those whose homes are located near Grant Avenue between Sunnyside and Forest avenues as they ponder possibly widening the street by as much as 14 feet when it’s repaved later this year.
Trustees requested that village staff reach out to residents during a discussion of possible options for that stretch of Grant Avenue during the village board’s committee of the whole meeting on Jan. 24.
“This is a pretty significant change that we’re talking about for the people that live on that street,” said Trustee Brian Conroy. “It kind of changes the whole dynamic of that street. I think we should go a step above and make sure [residents] are properly notified that this is under consideration and this is their opportunity to weigh in.”
One of the oldest street pavement surfaces in Brookfield, the one-and-a-half block stretch of Grant Avenue between Sunnyside and Forest is a concrete roadway just 22 feet wide.
Parking is allowed on both sides of the street, leaving room for just one vehicle to travel through between two parked vehicles. Because the street is at the north end of the Grand Boulevard business district, it sees higher vehicle counts than some other side streets and it’s sometimes used as a bypass route by southbound drivers who want to avoid the complicated Grand/Brookfield/Fairview/Prairie intersection just north of the railroad crossing.
Village Engineer Derek Treichel on Jan. 24 laid out a pair of options for widening the street, one of which was included in the preliminary cost estimate for repaving the street. That option involves widening the street three feet – 1.5 feet on either side – to create a 7-foot side parking lane on either side of Grant Avenue and a shared 11-foot-wide drive lane.
The second option would be to widen Grant Avenue by 14 feet to create two 7-foot-wide parking lanes and two 11-foot through lanes, which would eliminate the need for vehicles to weave in and out of parked cars to avoid oncoming traffic.
“I think the natural growth of downtown is going to be north and east, perhaps along Grant,” said Village Manager Tim Wiberg. “We hope, if things go well, that this natural progression is where it will go.”
Right now, Grant Avenue is not an inviting place for visitors to the Grand Boulevard business district to drive, said Wiberg, because of the tight dimensions of the roadway.
“If and when more development happens and the migration is to the north, this sets up much better to be able to accommodate easier, safer parking while keeping two lanes of traffic there at all times.”
While widening Grant Avenue by 14 feet will make it easier for vehicle traffic to navigate, eliminating seven feet of parkway on either side of Grant Avenue will result in having to remove 17 trees between Sunnyside and Forest avenues.
The second option will also cost an additional $80,000, not counting the $500 cost to replace each tree lost.
Beyond those two options, trustees Edward Cote and Katie Kaluzny wondered whether, instead of the parallel parking that would remain along Grant Avenue, the widened roadway could accommodate diagonal parking to increase the number of spaces in and around downtown.
“If the guess is that’s where the business district will grow, wouldn’t it be prudent now to try to increase the parking capabilities in that area,” Cote said.
But, making Grant Avenue a commercial parking area might be bridge too far for residents there, said Conroy, who added that if he lived along that street, he would oppose increasing parking for non-residential use.
Village President Michael Garvey also voiced doubts about diagonal parking on Grant Avenue.
“I think the board needs to think very carefully about incentivizing and creating more parking there and encouraging parking from the business district to move that way,” Garvey said. “While we’re always looking for the opportunity to add parking, I don’t know that this is the ideal place to create additional parking at the expense of the residential neighbors in that area.”
Wiberg told the Landmark the village intends to invite those living along that stretch of Grant Avenue to a Zoom meeting that will be held sometime in early February. The village board will again discuss the matter at the Feb. 14 committee of the whole meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. at the village hall, 8820 Brookfield Ave.