When the 2020 Master Plan was adopted by the Brookfield village board in early 2005, it signaled a clear dedication to encouraging development in Brookfield's business districts. Since that time, however, there has been little in the way of development in any of Brookfield's pedestrian districts (Eight Corners, Hollywood, Grand/Prairie), the Ogden Avenue commercial corridor or the 47th Street commercial/industrial district.
True there has been some encouraging new business activity on Grand Boulevard. Within the last six months of 2005, three foodservice businesses?"The Sandbar, Salt Creek Wine Bar and Trattoria Gemelli have opened up there.
Perhaps they were spurred in part by what they saw as Brookfield's openness to development in that area. If so, that's wonderful and we hope that perception continues. But it won't unless some real development comes to the area.
When 2005 dawned, there were two significant residential developments on the drawing board. A townhouse plan on Sunnyside Avenue and a four-story condo/commercial project on the north end of the 3700 block of Grand Boulevard.
Village trustees rejected both plans, and since that time all talk, at least publicly, of development along Grand Boulevard has evaporated.
Of course, there were mitigating circumstances. During the entire time of talk about new development downtown, there was no one directing the Building Department and the village board was in the midst of a nasty election year political battle that eventually changed the entire make-up of the village board. During that political upheaval, from roughly March through August, almost nothing of consequence got accomplished.
For the rest of the year, the board has begun to tackle some of the perennial Brookfield causes?"funding street improvements and paving alleys. This month, the board is likely to hear about a proposal to install new water meters in all homes and businesses.
That's all fine and undeniably important for the village to do. But it's equally important to make sure that the implementation of the Brookfield 2020 plan gets started. That means getting the village's Plan Commission, which has essentially vanished from the scene, back on the ball. That is the group that should be addressing the village's zoning code, which appears to be at odds with the development outlined in the master plan. That group needs to take a lead in making sure developers can be assured that when they come to Brookfield, they can at least navigate the process.
The year 2006 will also be a vitally important one for the majority PEP Party in the run-up to the 2007 village trustee election. The PEP board now has in place its own hand-picked village manager and assistant village manager/building director, both of whom were brought on board in good part because of their experience handling development.
Not a single significant development that we know of has seen the light of day since the early days of 2005. We hope that the window of opportunity that Brookfield appeared to have during 2001-05 wasn't wasted on political bickering and an inability to foster serious development.
We hope that political infighting hasn't scared away developers and that the potential for more in a scant year will continue to do so.
Much in the same way that the previous administration had an opportunity in 2002 (and ultimately failed) to move past politics and tap into Brookfield's economic potential, this current board and administration has a significant opportunity in 2006 to get Brookfield moving ahead both from an infrastructure standpoint and an economic one.
Time to dust off the master plan and get working on it.