By Bob Uphues
It looks as if the Brookfield Special Events Committee, launched in the early 1990s to organize, staff and manage the annual summer event Brookfest at Ehlert Park, will be phased out as early as next week at the Nov. 25 meeting of the village board.
Trustees signaled earlier this month that they would dissolve the committee and fold its responsibilities into the Parks and Recreation Commission, following a request from Recreation Director Stevie Ferrari.
Ferrari, who is the staff liaison for both the Parks and Recreation Commission and the Special Events Committee, said consolidating the duties of the two commissions into one entity would help streamline decision-making and eliminate confusion over which entity was responsible for what events that fall within the Parks and Recreation Department's purview.
"There are times when it has been confusing in regard to what events the Special Events Committee is supposed to contribute to and what the events the Parks and Recreation Commission contributes information to," Ferrari told village trustees at their Nov. 11 meeting.
Ferrari said that since she was hired as recreation director 18 months ago, the department has created 16 new events in addition to larger initiatives that generally were overseen by the Special Event Commission – the Battle of the Bands, the summer outdoor concert series, the Fourth of July parade/picnic and the annual Christmas holiday celebration.
Brookfest, a midsummer music festival and carnival, was abandoned in 2005 after fights at the carnival marred the event and led to safety concerns.
It made sense, Ferrari said, for one group to tackle all of the events planned for the parks. She suggested that the Parks and Recreation Commission be expanded to seven members from five to allow members of the Special Events Commission who want to remain involved at that level to do so.
Presently, each group has five members, who are appointed by the village board and serve in an advisory capacity. Members of the Special Events Committee as well as the Parks and Recreation Commission also volunteer to staff their events, serving as a critical source of manpower.
Even if some of the former Special Events Committee members are no longer part of an organized committee, officials believed they would remain involved as volunteers.
Mary Vyskocil, a member of the Special Events Committee confirmed that belief on Nov. 11, saying she agreed with the merger of the two groups and with setting the number of commissioners in the newly combined entity at seven.
"If you need someone to step down from the commission, I will do so, but I will still attend every meeting and participate," Vyskocil said.
Trustee Michael Garvey said the village board appreciated the service of those on the committee and hoped everyone would stay involved in the future.
"Our events are tremendous because of you guys," Garvey said.