The village of Brookfield plans to submit a grant application to the Illinois Department of Transportation seeking close to $3 million to help fund roughly $4.4 million in streetscape improvements throughout the Downtown/Grand Boulevard TIF district, which includes the village’s downtown on both sides of the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad tracks.

Elected officials at the Sept. 12 village board meeting voted unanimously to approve a resolution giving staff the go-ahead to submit an Illinois Transportation Enhancement program (ITEP) grant application, which is due Sept. 30. The state will announce grant recipients next spring.

“A lot of this discussion centers around — where does the village board want to see the downtown grow to?” said Village Manager Timothy Wiberg. “I like to think the downtown is going to be more than just Grand Boulevard. 

“You’re already seeing on Prairie Avenue going north of Brookfield Avenue, there’s already some retail there,” he added. “I think the natural outflow of downtown would be to keep progressing up Prairie to Grant. And, if that’s the case, while it’s not that way now, by tying in these streetscape elements … it helps lay the groundwork or the foundation for the future growth of your downtown.”

The proposed improvements include ornamental brick paver sidewalks, new pedestrian lighting, more trees set within larger curbed planters, boards where community events could be advertised and new street-level electrical connections at the southern end of the 3700 block of Grand Boulevard to accommodate outdoor events such as Music on Grand.

A map provided to trustees indicates that the “full treatment” of improvements – brick pavers, lighting, trees/planters – are planned for both sides of the 3700 block of Grand Boulevard, both sides of the 3700 block of Prairie Avenue, the north side of Fairview Avenue between Grand and Sunnyside, both sides of Prairie Avenue south from Burlington Avenue to the alley, and the south side of Burlington Avenue from Forest to Vernon.

New brick pavers and pedestrian lighting are proposed from the south side of Brookfield Avenue from Prairie Avenue to Salt Creek. New pedestrian lighting is proposed for the north side of Brookfield Avenue from Prairie to Salt Creek, both sides of Brookfield Avenue from Prairie to Sunnyside, the east side of the 3700 block of Sunnyside Avenue and the north side of Burlington Avenue from Forest to Vernon.

The improvements would follow already approved design guidelines and tie together the entire downtown business district, particularly the area immediately south of the tracks, said Community Development Director Emily Egan.

 “We want those businesses to be considered part of the downtown, and also those streetscape improvements would be something that would encourage redevelopment. … We are really looking at this, comprehensively both north and south, really creating streetscaping that is a place-making element, so if you see these streetscaping elements, you know you’re in downtown Brookfield.”

Even if Brookfield is awarded a grant, design engineering and contract awards would be done under IDOT supervision, a process that will take four years, according to a timeline Egan provided to trustees at their committee of the whole meeting on Aug. 22.

Construction, should Brookfield obtain the funding, would not begin until spring 2027. While ITEP grants usually require a 20-percent match by the municipality, some of the improvements would qualify for 50/50 funding, said Egan. The village’s total match, as a result, is estimated at about $1.4 million.

Because all of the improvements would be done within the boundaries of the Downtown/Grand Boulevard TIF, the matching funds could come from that TIF district’s reserve and not from general operating funds.

I think it also speaks to the fact that we have a comprehensive plan out there and that we’re using it,” said Trustee Jennifer Hendricks, who also liked the idea of adding electrical connections as a way to bring more events, possibly including the farmers market, to the downtown.