By Bob Uphues
A proposed new public library in Brookfield is still on track for breaking ground in spring 2020 after village trustees on May 13 voted unanimously to approve the project's preliminary planned development application.
The vote essentially marks the midway point of the approval process for the proposed 21,000-square-foot library, which will be built at 3541 Park Ave. on vacant land owned by the Brookfield Public Library.
Now architects will prepare a final planned development application, which will include more complete plans and information on everything from storm water management to landscaping to specific building materials for the new structure.
Once the final planned development application is complete, it will be considered at a public hearing before the Brookfield Planning and Zoning Commission, where members of the public can again testify in favor or against it.
If the Planning and Zoning Commission recommends approval of the final planned development, it will again head to the village board for approval. While there's no firm date for when the final plans will go to the Planning and Zoning Commission, architect Dan Pohrte indicated that if the preliminary plans were approved, it would take two to three months to put the final plans together.
"The additional information that will be included in this presentation are further development of the site/storm water engineering, further development of the site and landscaping plan including all proposed materials and proposed plantings along with overall light levels, and major building material selections," Pohrte said in an email last month.
Pohrte appeared before the village board on May 13 prior to trustees voting in favor of the preliminary plans. During the roughly 15-minute appearance, Pohrte said that architects had eliminated a proposed drop-off area in front of the library on Park Avenue.
Neighbors noticed the proposed drop-off site, which was not discussed during the public hearing before the Planning and Zoning Commission, and complained that placing the drop-off on Park Avenue would increase traffic on the residential street.
The main drop-off area will be near the main doors to the new library on Lincoln Avenue. Signage, said Pohrte, will guide people driving to the library along Grand Boulevard to get to the drop-off area by circling through the new parking lot across the street to westbound Lincoln Avenue before leaving via Grand Boulevard.
Neighbors had also complained that a traffic study, which showed there would be no discernable increase in traffic on Park Avenue, was flawed because it was conducted on the coldest day of the year, a day the library closed early.
The consultant who conducted the study, however, said the number of visitors to the library that day, despite the weather, was typical. In order for the neighborhood to experience a noticeable impact from traffic, the consultant said, the number of visitors "would have to at least double."
Trustee Ryan Evans, before casting his final vote as a village trustee, said that library officials, no doubt, want more people to use the facility in the future and that there would be an impact.
"This is a congested area and the library will have to contend with that," Evans said.
Village Manager Timothy Wiberg said that the village could modify traffic patterns around the new library in the future if traffic congestion turned out to be a particular issue on Park Avenue.