Homewood Takes Next Step Towards Casino

Homewood is one step closer towards developing a casino, but village officials say there's still a long way to go.

Homewood trustees voted Tuesday night to take the next step towards developing a casino along with the Village of East Hazel Crest.

Two agenda items now help to set the stage for a potential future casino development. The first is an intergovernmental revenue sharing agreement between Homewood and the Village of East Hazel Crest. As the larger property holder, East Hazel Crest will be receiving 55 percent of proceeds, leaving Homewood with the remaining 45 percent.

Trustees also voted to hire law firm Barnes & Thornburg to solicit interest from casino businesses. Homewood Village President Richard Hofeld says the firm employs statisticians and financial analysts to determine the best, most profitable choice for the villages. This is a favorable means to partner with a casino for proposal, he says.

Homewood agreed to spend no more than $135,000 for legal fees. East Hazel Crest is expected to agree to a slightly higher spending cap. Should the villages decide to partner with a casino, the casino will reimburse both governments for 100 percent of the legal costs incurred, regardless of whether the project succeeds or fails.

Just the first step ...

The reality of a local casino is still a long way off, however, and trustees want residents to know their opinion counts.

“I think there’s a lot of concern that we’re trying to get this run through without having any public input,” said Trustee Tom Kataras. “We’re going to have public hearings. This is not a slam-dunk thing."

Village President Richard Hofeld says the village started thinking about a potential casino over two years ago when both Homewood and East Hazel Crest were looking for options to develop the land just southwest of I-294 and Halsted Street. Land developers told the village no large-scale retail stores were suitable for the location, Hofeld said—but a casino is.

Trustee Anne Colton helped to clarified the board’s current position for residents who may be off-put by the news.

“What we have to do is, we have to examine every possibility. We have to examine every opportunity that we have as a village to maintain and preserve our community,” Colton said. “So that’s what we’re doing right now. We’re just looking and we’re definitely going to have informational sessions within the next month or two.”

The aforementioned meeting will be held sometime in December, according to Hofeld. Both law firm Barnes & Thornburg and lobbyists will be present to answer questions, he says.

Perhaps the most pressing issue, though, is that there is not yet a South Suburban casino license available. But that’s not dissuading Hofeld.

“We’ve been told that this is a very opportune time for the legislation to pass in the veto session,” he said.

Should legislation pass and a license becomes available, there are still other obstacles, such as other proposals for South Suburban casinos. In the case of Country Club Hills, their proposal partner —claiming that Country Club Hills remains the ideal location for a casino. Not so, says Hofeld.

“I’m sure everyone feels that they have the best game in town, we know we have the best,” he said.

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Dinkum November 28, 2012 at 08:52 PM
What data do you have that supports this position?
Dinkum November 28, 2012 at 08:58 PM
You may have noticed I've made comments and asked questions about this topic. I have no opinion on the viability or impact of a casino in our backyard. The reason? I've done no homework. The only thing I know for sure is state government should stay out of the gambling regulation business (and regulation of business in general). Let private business decide where they want to invest for profitable returns.
Phillip R Baggs November 28, 2012 at 09:28 PM
Phillip R Baggs November 28, 2012 at 09:30 PM
Phillip R Baggs November 28, 2012 at 09:30 PM
Phillip R Baggs November 28, 2012 at 09:36 PM
Take a lesson from AK-SAR-BEN. It is simply a matter of supply and demand. We should learn from history and do the opposite of Dwight Welch. You can thank me for avoiding those consulting fees later and just send me a check for half. http://articles.latimes.com/1994-07-24/sports/sp-19356_1_aksarben-races
Nate Olson November 28, 2012 at 09:40 PM
I must admit I do not have enough information to form an educated opinion on the topic. Hopefully Patch or another local media outlet will do an article looking maybe at other similar communities that have gotten casinos in the last 10 years. I'd be curious to see what Des Plaines residents have to say particularly. I agree there are definitely a lot of potential negatives such as crime and just the negative stigma the community of Homewood could get by having one. There are positives though with the added revenue and the jobs it would bring, but is that enough to offset the negatives? It doesn't sound like that piece of property is suitable for much else, and my concern would be that even if Homewood says no, couldn't Hazel Crest still move forward and still put one up on just their land? Or Harvey right across 80? Then we would still get all the negatives (crime etc) with none of the revenue positives. I could go either way on this one so I look forward to hearing everyone's constructive opinions and hopefully some hard facts from other similar communities.
Phillip R Baggs November 28, 2012 at 09:50 PM
Go throw a bag full of $1 bills out your window while driving down 159th and your questions will be answered.
Homewood Girl November 28, 2012 at 09:52 PM
I think that they should put a gym or a resturant or something other than a casino.
June Whitehand November 28, 2012 at 09:54 PM
The thought of high end entertainment coming into the village is a positive aspect.
Raoul Duke November 28, 2012 at 11:00 PM
Hey, Dinkum: Do you post these comments from your desk at Village Hall, or from home during your three-hour lunch?
lala November 28, 2012 at 11:04 PM
Define "bad element".
lala November 28, 2012 at 11:15 PM
Downtown Joliet and the whole city of Joliet have reaped the benefits of casinos. The casino's sponsor many events throughout the year as well. A once bleak downtown area is now bustling with upscale dining and shops. Think of the jobs a casino will bring in! The residents of Homewood will benefit from the tax revenue. The casinos have strict security measures in place too. With the extra tax dollars, your town can hire more police if needed. Heck Harrah's in Joliet recently opened a Paul Dean's. Maybe you people should get your questions and fears together and attend the village board meetings for answers. Wouldn't you rather see residents spend money in Homewood rather than drive to Joliet, Aurora or Indiana?
Raoul Duke November 28, 2012 at 11:17 PM
bpassive: It's not up to the critics of a casino to "see what you can do" to develop the land. It's not up to the village idiots, either. It's private property with a private owner. It's the owner's land. It's the owner's problem. Period. These "economic development" schemes never, ever work out for the taxpayers. The costs to the taxpayers always outweigh the benefits, if any. The jobs that are created, if any, are for minimum wage. Usually the new, tax-subsidized business drives established community (and tax-paying) businesses out of business. What kind of TIF subsidies will this nightmare require? How much additional police protection? Ambulance calls to scoop up old ladies who keel over next to the slot machines? Ask anyone in Bridgeview about Toyota Park and the marvelous benefit that it has been to the community.
Dinkum November 28, 2012 at 11:22 PM
Hey, Duke, are you the talking dog from Bush's Baked Beans? Your one chance to contribute something meaningful here and you blew it. Woof.
babyboomer November 28, 2012 at 11:37 PM
Oh, I see, if someone doesn't agree with you, then they are spouting nonsense!
BlackHawks Fan November 28, 2012 at 11:43 PM
Lala ~ Have you been to Joilet the past five years? I’ve been there many times and the downtown area is a ghost town at night. The area around the Amtrak station is creepy at best. I noticed you are saying “your town” maybe you should worry about your own town and not tell us what we should think or how we should deal with this.
BlackHawks Fan November 28, 2012 at 11:56 PM
Dinkum ~ If you have no opinion or have done no homework why do you think it is necessary to question everyone else? Maybe you should do some research and actually come up with some viable information. As far as why the Hofeld and the village board voted against gambling in 1996 it was because they wanted to send a message to other communities that they didn’t believe in gambling or that it would help the south suburbs, and yes I did attend that meeting.
Dinkum November 29, 2012 at 12:27 AM
Well, you didn't get a constructive opinion from the Baggs man.
Dinkum November 29, 2012 at 12:43 AM
A fair question BH Fan. And I do miss the BH. I think you know why. Unlike most, I don't believe having an opinion on something (or everything it seems) has any real value. Now, an informed, thoughtful, researched position is a different matter. This deserves respect, consideration, and maybe even a response in kind. And now to your request. Viable information. Find the paper "Casinos and crimes in the USA" by Douglas M. Walker. I'm not going to quote anything here because a high percentage of Path posters only want to continue believing what they already believe. For them, data and research means little especially if it challenges their beliefs.
Dinkum November 29, 2012 at 12:45 AM
Your reference list is incomplete. Find the paper "Casinos and crimes in the USA" by Douglas M. Walker.
lala November 29, 2012 at 02:52 AM
Yes. I was at the Rialto in Oct. to see Cheech & Chong and ate dinner at Harrah's. Like downtown Homewood is hopping every night too and there are no creepy areas? Ever been around after Lassen's closes? Not too much hopping going on after last call. The Jewel and K-Mart parking lots on Halsted can be creepy too. This link will show you some of the benefits: http://www.illinoiscasinogaming.org/impact_files/harrah-joliet.htm "Your" is merely a typo...neighbor. Everyone is entitled to their opinion on this matter regardless of where they live. It impacts all the surrounding towns. No need to be condescending.
Phillip R Baggs November 29, 2012 at 08:32 PM
I guess we better pay more attention the next time Homewood buys property... http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-10-03/news/ct-tl-1004-homewood-property-20121003_1_vacant-properties-village-board-homewood-plans
jazzaddic November 30, 2012 at 01:35 AM
Babyboomer,I hope you have proof that Hofeld is getting a "kickback". This statement borders on slander. You need to get a life with all your insinuations. If anything Hofeld has contributed to the tax revenue in Homewood thru his success in the Halsted street corridor, not one of his "shady deals" as you eluded to.
Dinkum November 30, 2012 at 03:22 AM
No, you got it backwards. If someone (like you) is spouting nonsense, I don't agree with them. Don't even give them the time of day.
BUTCH November 30, 2012 at 03:22 AM
The site selected for the Casino 30 some years ago was noted for it's thoroughbred and later Harness racing. Jobs were plenty at the track and around it part and full time, and there was no serious crime and or make believe problems,a few years ago the same hysteria was being waged when a off track parlor was opened where Bagio's is now and closed because of a bad location for off track and decline in racing nationwide. The same protestors concerns on schools and boogeymen, exact same hysteria and hand wringing by the phonies of Homewodd. A Casino on Halsted would be like hitting the lotto for the 2 towns, this has location and the best Police Dept in the So burbs which will be bigger and better with the needed revenue and like Joliet will have the resources to rebuild a aging infrastructure and add new great ideas, remember the abandoned plans for new housing at G-L BANK downtown back in the BUSH years? Wake up Homewood the water rates are going to keep climbing what other Business will bring this scale of jobs and resources so badly needed to your village? Who in this time will settle in Homewood due to the rising costs and demand for water in a time of drought and low lake levels especially. The Mayors and council who have proposed this should be honored, can u imagine what Dwight Welch would do with a location on 1-80-294 & Halsted? What a bunch of rhubarbs and phonies these new HOMEWODD people are!
Karen V. Maurer November 30, 2012 at 03:02 PM
Ryan, I attended the Village Board meeting as an observer for the HF Area League of Women Voters. Thank you for a fair and accurate article. Karen Maurer
Karen V. Maurer November 30, 2012 at 03:03 PM
I am a member/reader of Patch. See my comment above and submit it. Thank you.
Tobias Cichon November 30, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Fair, Dinkum. To that end... "Will gambling bring increases in crime? Study after study shows there is no correlation between legalized gaming and an increase in crime rates. The National Gambling Impact Study Commission, National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences and the University of Chicago National Research Council all came to this same conclusion. The Governmental Accounting Office (GAO) also reports there is no link between video gaming and an increase in crime rates, social problems or bankruptcy." Read more here: http://www.bnd.com/2012/10/20/2367188/pro-industry-is-regulated-wont.html#storylink=cpy
BUTCH December 01, 2012 at 03:20 AM
Back in the day Homewood was a largely blue collar town that was recovering like everywhere from WWII and KOREA the golden age of thoroughbred racing featured a match race of two of the most outstanding horses of racing at WASHINGTON PARK the site of the casino, people back then were realistic and did not act like the moral majority the puritans on this Blog think they with their concerned voters and usual anti progress all of it based on fear mongering and false equivalency such as TOYOTA PARK and Bridge view and HW - Casino, make a real comparison between Joliet s Casinos and this one been made, Joliet has rebuilt their infrastructure and downtown, built a Baseball Stadium refurbished the Rialto Theater and upgraded their Municipal offices and Courts for starters and none of the jobs the Casino's created were the usual misinfo on min wage, the Casinos did not drive a single established businesses out but brought more in with decent paying jobs as well, stop the hoity- toidy nonsense it is all a anti progress agenda, this town is no longer in a position to attract more big box stores or gymnasiums or even restaurants the last two on 175th are gone for good the added police concerns are real and will be more so if this village does nothing and watches this property decay as the Glen wood mall down the street has do you serious think there are potential developers lining up to create some new mall or restaurant or gymnasium on this PROPERTY?


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