RBHS floats Rockefeller Ave. parking expansion

Plan calls for 108 parking spaces, cul-de-sac

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By BOB UPHUES

Riverside-Brookfield High School and the Village of Brookfield are exploring an intergovernmental agreement that would serve to increase parking capacity near the high school. RB Superintendent/Principal Jack Baldermann presented his case Jan. 9 to the Brookfield village board, which expressed support for the plan, although no decision was made to approve it at that time.

Baldermann said the school would like to be able to use the block of Rockefeller Avenue between Golf Road and Hollywood Avenue for both faculty and student parking. The school currently issues roughly 20 permits to students to park on the north side of Rockefeller Avenue during school hours, but the new plan would increase parking capacity on the block to 108 spaces.

In order to accommodate that many vehicles, that stretch of Rockefeller Avenue would need to be widened roughly 32 feet (16 feet on each side), creating a row of perpendicular parking spots on both sides of the street.

The village would still be able to issue the permits for the parking spaces

Brookfield Village Engineer Derek Treichel completed a preliminary concept drawing of the plan, which was presented to the board, and estimated that the work would cost approximately $230,000 to complete. Riverside-Brookfield High School would pay for the construction, Baldermann said.

"We're in a position at RB, where we're not only landlocked, but little of the acreage belongs to the high school," Baldermann said. "Everything north and two-thirds of the parking for the high school is owned by the Forest Preserve District. Five years ago when we met with them, it was clear that it was not a matter of if, but a matter of when they would take that property back."

The high school district will ask voters to approve a $58.8 million bond issuance for building renovation in March. Part of the renovation plan calls for the creation of a parking deck on the land now used for student parking north of the school. Such a parking deck would need approval from Brookfield Zoo, which is part of the Cook County Forest Preserve District.

In order to limit the cost of building a parking structure, Baldermann hoped the Village of Brookfield would create on-street parking on Rockefeller Avenue. Baldermann also suggested the zoo could use the new parking spaces for overflow parking during summer months and on weekends.

"We looked at building a garage, and it's extremely expensive, about $12,000 to $15,000 per space," Baldermann said. "At one point we explored underground parking, and that was about $30,000 per space.

"At $230,000 for 80 additional spaces [on Rockefeller Avenue], that's $2,000 per space," Baldermann said. "We think this is the most efficient way to address the parking needs we have."

Parking is such as issue, said Baldermann, that the school wished to pursue the Rockefeller Avenue parking proposal, even if the bond referendum fails in March.

"It's so important, we'd pursue it either way," Baldermann said. "We're desperate for parking. If the zoo revokes the land rights, we'd be in a desperate situation. And to get parking spaces at $2,000 per space is about as economical as you can get."

A key component of the proposal floated Jan. 9 was that Rockefeller would receive a cul-de-sac at Hollywood Avenue, preventing vehicles from streaming into or out of the new parking area before and after school.

Baldermann acknowledged that the plan might result in added congestion. "But I don't think it's anything we couldn't handle," he said. Baldermann added that, if the plan became reality, the school would increase staff presence in the area to direct traffic.

The Brookfield village board is expected to discuss the details of an intergovernmental agreement with the high school at its Jan. 23 Committee of the Whole meeting.

In the meantime, Village President Michael Garvey said he would attempt to get input on the plan from nearby residents and officials at Hollywood Elementary School.

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