Brookfield may expand alley paving program

Target set at 10 alleys per year

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By BOB UPHUES

Brookfield may hasten the demise of its old gravel alleys if the village board decides to step up alley paving efforts beginning in 2006. Trustees on Oct. 24 consented to have the village's engineering firm begin preliminary engineering studies to pave seven alleys for which the village currently has resident petitions.

At this time, Brookfield has petitions from residents to pave the alleys in the 4200 block of Elm/Park, the 3100 block of Oak/Sunnyside, the 3600 block of Forest/Prairie, the 3200 block of Arthur/Maple, the 9100 block of Sheridan/Grant, the 3200 block of Sunnyside/Vernon and the 9400 block of Henrietta/Jackson.

In recent years, the village has limited alley paving projects to two per year, leaving perhaps up to 100 unpaved alleys.

"We have seven completed petitions in our hands and there are more out there," said Village President Michael Garvey. "I'd feel comfortable budgeting for 10 alleys in the coming fiscal year," Garvey said.

Once the preliminary engineering is completed, at a cost of roughly $1,000 per alley, the village could put the entire group out for bid in the spring of 2006 and budget for final engineering costs in the 2006-07 fiscal year, which begins May 1.

The village would continue its practice of creating a Special Assessment for each alley, with residents paying for construction costs and the village footing the bill for engineering.

According to Village Engineer Derek Treichel, it costs a total of $80,000 to $100,000 to pave an alley. The assessment would appear as a separate line item on residents' tax bills over a certain period of time.

Treichel also indicated that residents might be able to take advantage of lower construction costs if more alleys were included in a bid package. The village, meanwhile, would see a savings in engineering costs by grouping alleys rather than addressing them one or two at a time.

Village trustees also appeared to be in agreement on how the village should pay for its portion of the any future alley repaving program?"by using money that has built up in the village's garbage fund. Brookfield expects to have just over $1 million in its garbage fund by the end of the 2005-06 fiscal year.

The balance has grown to its current level over a period of years, although there's been no definitive explanation from village officials about exactly how that's happened. According to Finance Director John Dolasinski, the garbage fund is no longer serving as a profit center, but is break even.

As early as a 2004, former Trustee Wil Brennan suggested that the garbage fund surplus be used to address alley maintenance, a policy that received broad approval from trustees. When Trustee Linda Stevanovich asked if the village could legitimately use the garbage fund surplus to fund an alley paving program, Garvey reiterated his support for that scenario.

"With the current system, we have multiple garbage trucks going down our alleys," Garvey said. "I think it's an expense that can be directly attributed to the garbage fund."

The board's Infrastructure Subcommittee will examine how to continue the program past 2006, including the issue of dealing with commercial alleys and alleys between blocks where fewer than 51 percent of residents agree to instituting a Special Assessment. One of the options that committee will explore will be creating Special Assessments unilaterally in order to complete alley paving.

"We might need to do alleys where people do not come forward with a petition," Garvey said. "We need to figure out a longer term strategy."

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