Could a community center be in Brookfield’s future? The village is going to shell out a little more than $90,000 to find out. 

The Brookfield Village Board is poised next month to authorize paying $88,290 to Itasca based Williams Architects to conduct a feasibility study of building a community center for Brookfield. Some $4,400 of reimbursable expenses are also part of the Williams Architects proposal. The village had budgeted $70,000 for a feasibility study but village officials say that skills Williams brings to the project justify the additional cost.

At a July 25 Committee of the Whole Meeting, the village board heard Parks and Recreation Director Stevie Ferrari report the recreation department is bursting at the seams and that a dedicated community center would be a great help. Currently recreation department programs are held in the basement of village hall or in local schools that the village uses as part of intergovernmental agreements.

“The Village of Brookfield, being one of the largest communities in the area, is the only community among our surrounding cities and villages that does not provide a dedicated community space for our residents,” Ferrari said.

Ferrari said the program space in the basement of village hall is only about 1,200 square feet and that the entire department has only about 3,500 square feet in the basement. Ferrari said holding programs in schools requires a lot of staff time and effort to coordinate and that village programs are always subject to the possibility of being displaced.

“Utilization of these satellite facilities, through intergovernmental agreements, requires more office administration, staff training, logistics and coordination versus overseeing programs that can be directly held onsite,” Ferrari said.

Currently the recreation department runs a summer camp at S.E. Gross Middle School as well as at village hall, runs a teen camp at Riverside Brookfield High School, and an enrichment camp at Hollywood School.

A community center would allow the district to offer more programs and consolidate its programming.

“We’re at our maximum of the families we can serve,” Ferrari said. “We’re operating at our maximum.”

Village board members agreed that more recreation space is needed. 

“I consider this the greatest deficiency we have in our offerings, our current Parks and Rec being run out of the lower level of village hall,” said Brian Conroy, a village board member. “Frankly it’s an embarrassment so I’m really excited about this and I’m excited about what this can bring to the community.”

Village board member Ed Cote agreed.

“The biggest deficit that we have right now is (not having) a center of this nature,” said Cote. “I’m totally in favor of moving forward with this.”

The feasibility study will include a demographic analysis of Brookfield, a market analysis including a community survey, concept design options and financial analysis including revenue strategies and partnership opportunities. 

The architectural firm and village will consider a variety of options including new construction and adaptive reuse. The now mostly unused St. Barbara’s church property is one possibility.

“There would be no option that would be off the table,” said Brookfield Village Manager Timothy Wiberg.

Wiberg said it is too early to estimate what it would cost to build a community center and how the construction of one would be funded.

“One of the purposes of the study is to determine the need for it, if there is a market that we can serve with it,” Wiberg said. “What kind of revenues could we get from it.”

The feasibility study would be completed by next spring. 

Architect Andy Dogan said his firm would conduct a robust and inclusive feasibility study and reach out to the community to get input and direction. He said that his company would go beyond the usual easel and PowerPoint presentation and really listen to the community.

“We like to go far beyond the traditional open house, kind of canned architect speech meeting with some board and some feedback and really try to meet people where they are in the community,” Dogan told the village board on July 25. “We want to dare to be different. We want to experiment with different ways to reach people in Brookfield, let them know about the project, truly and intentionally get their feedback on any concerns they may have so those can be addressed and the community knows that we’ve listened.”

Williams Architects has a multilingual staff and has long standing relationships with subcontractors. Those factors gave it the edge over two other finalists among firms that bid on the feasibility study. Williams Architects designed a nearly 91,000 square foot community and aquatic center for the Village of Carol Stream and a 185,000 square foot community, aquatic and wellness center for Elgin. It also has experience working on smaller projects. It conducted the feasibility study that ultimately resulted in the construction of the nearly 15,000 square foot Roos Recreation facility in Forest Park.

The village board will formally vote on Aug. 29 whether to authorize the feasibility study but passage seems assured.