Bump in the road

Opinion: Editorials

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Next week, officials from the Brookfield Public Library will head back to the Planning and Zoning Commission for what is likely to be a formality serving to delay the village board's approval of the long-awaited new library facility by a couple of weeks.

At issue is a traffic impact study completed by a Wisconsin-based firm whose licensure to do business in Illinois is unclear. The firm and the library say there's no problem. A state database, as of last week, indicated the license hadn't been renewed since it expired in 2017.

This isn't some fly-by-night outfit. The same company completed a traffic study for a previous version of a new library facility back in 2012 and there's no reason to believe that somehow their method for conducting such studies is suddenly flawed.

The main complain about the most recent traffic study, conducted last January, is that it was very cold on the days the study took place, and critics fear the data might be skewed.

Will a new library at 3541 Park Ave. attract more traffic? We suppose the hope is that, yes, it will do just that. But the fact remains that a library is just across the street from the future location right now and there's a traffic impact already.

The new arrangement, with a new off-street parking lot available, that at least that part of the equation might be improved somewhat from the one that already exists. As for actual additional traffic, we doubt that it will be significantly different enough to cause a serious problem.

And, if it turns out that the new library is such a hit that the village needs to address traffic patterns in that area, it can certainly do that.

That said, when the complaint about the traffic study first surfaced earlier this summer, it might have been prudent to simply seek a new one rather than let a small issue mushroom into a larger one.

While this delay is unlikely to have any impact on the approval and eventual construction timeline of the new library – which has seen overwhelming support – it wasn't necessary. In the push to get this project approved after so many years, officials may have felt like they didn't need another roadblock.

It's understandable, but a re-hearing before the Planning and Zoning Commission is a way to clear that air. We're hoping that's just what it does.

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Mark McCann  

Posted: September 18th, 2019 9:59 AM

Why should my neighbors and I have to deal with the bureaucratic nightmare of correcting the library's own mistakes AFTER it's built when the village's own code requires them to properly study and deal the impact before approval? That's not how government and variances to the zoning code are supposed to work. The study they submitted was an absolute joke - it counted ZERO pedestrians and bicyclists over 2 days during the polar vortex. The village has known there were issues with this study since April, but didn't send it to the village's own engineer and attorney until the end of August. Once they reviewed it, they obviously had issues too. This new library isn't just larger than the old library, it will have meeting space that will seat 110 people that they hope will attract hundreds of visitors from outside of Brookfield every week - and only 22 parking spaces. I am not going to sit by quietly while the library cuts corners because, ultimately, those of us that live on Park Ave will pay the price. Poor planning is why we need a new library to begin with, yet they are making the same mistakes.

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