Are we almost there yet? Well, kids, we just might be. Although its now in the hands of Riverside Landscape Advisory and Preservation commissions, the new site plan for the Village Center development at the corner of Longcommon Road and Burlington Street looks to be on the right track.
If those two commissions react the way the Riverside Plan Commission did last week, then the old Henninger Pharmacy building could be history before the end of 2005. While we doubt that construction will be able to begin in earnest before spring of 2006, we hope that this latest effort by developers will be embraced and trigger the final stages of planning.
Of the three designs submitted by developers in the past year, this plan is the best of the group. Developers could have stuck it to Riverside and simply churned out a code compliant structure of little interest, but chose instead to head back to the drawing board to make wholesale changes.
The result is a design that refers to the Victorian character of downtown Riverside without being obtuse and one that takes much better advantage of its corner site. There are sure to be residents who still won't like the fact that it will be an imposing building that lacks the number of required parking spaces.
But the fact is that the village has granted them a variance for height. All other major aspects appear to comply with zoning codes and the village allows developers a buyout to make up for parking shortages. This appears to be the best solution Riverside could have hoped for.
The old drug store was coming down and a new, bigger building was going up no matter what. With this design as a cornerstone, Riverside may finally be able to turn around its downtown business district.
This is the right design; it's time to get the process moving.
Brookfield's "utility man"
Best of luck to Brookfield Fire Chief Charles LaGreco on his retirement after nearly 33 years as the village's "utility man." It's almost inconceivable that one man served as full-time firefighter and one-man code enforcement department for over 13 years, but that's what LaGreco did back in the 1980s.
That alone says something about LaGreco's sense of duty and dedication. During those years, from 1981 to 1994, the way Brookfield looked at itself changed. As LaGreco and his team of firefighter/code inspectors sought to crack down on blighted properties in the village and improve the face of residential neighborhoods, the fire department was also on its way to becoming a modern force, with full fire and EMT services for residents.
During LaGreco's tenure as chief, that move toward making Brookfield's fire department a well-trained, equipped force reached its highest level. LaGreco, who could have retired anytime within the past two years with a full pension, chose to make sure he left the department in as good a shape as possible for his successor.
Brookfield will miss LaGreco's flexibility, dedication and expertise. Here's wishing him the best during his much-deserved retirement.