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New Homewood Marquee Sign Squeaks By

Village President Richard Hofeld broke a three-to-three vote during Tuesday night's Homewood village board meeting.

Story Updated at 3 p.m. on Aug. 29

Prepare to be more informed, and possibly more distracted, when driving past village hall on Dixie Highway.

The controversial expenditure of just over $21,000 on a new electronic marquee sign to replace the village’s current manually programmed sign was just barely approved during Tuesday night’s board meeting. The final vote was three to three, with Village President Richard Hofeld casting the tiebreaking "yes" vote.

The new sign, which has the ability to produce graphic images in addition to text, is required by law to hold static messages for no shorter duration than 15 minutes at a time, according to Community Development Director Paula Wallrich. The village will be installing the new sign at the corner of Dixie Highway and Hickory Road.

Trustee Anne Colton said she likes the idea of the sign and understands its function, however, she contends it is in the wrong location for an animated sign.

“That is a treacherous, treacherous part of Homewood,” Colton said. “As an avid cyclist … I cannot tell you how many near-death experiences I’ve had already there. I think adding a distraction right there, with the school and everything else, is just asking for trouble.”

Colton pointed out the  sign at the corner of Governors Highway and 183rd Street as an example of a better location. She said she’d support the sign installment should a better location be identified.

Trustee Jay Heiferman was also opposed to the sign’s installment. His point of contention was with the Homewood logo submitted for the new sign.

“I just think that consistently looks like a Rorschach test when I see … it looks like a blob of ink,” Heiferman said. “That’s what any good business would do—is have a nice, legible sign.”

Prior to the meeting, many H-F Patch users scoffed at the sign's $20K+ price tag in our comment section. Village President Hofeld says it's a much needed improvement.

“It’s a dated sign,” Hofeld said. “When I say dated—in the winter time, they can’t change the letters (on the current sign) because they’re frozen to it. The electronic sign will allow us to send out instantaneous messages—an emergency road closure, or whatever might come up instantaneously—we can from right inside the village hall, seven days a week without having to bring in someone to change it.”

Trustee Anne Colton also commented in response to the price concerns.

"One of the most important things a local government must do is to effectively communicate with its residents," Colton said. "This sign will allow us instant access to hundreds, if not thousands of our residents. Not only can we keep people apprised of village events and issues, if there is an emergency situation with weather, a missing child, or anything else, this gives us another channel to get the word out. While $20,000 is a substantial investment, it is an investment in our community."

Kataras, Colton and Heiferman voted no for the new sign. Dawkins, Purcell, Robertson and Hofeld voted yes.

D Wilson September 02, 2012 at 04:28 PM
I'd prefer to think I was thinking prior to this back & forth, but thank you for using several terms like ' sight distance' that I will blatently pilfer and use in a letter directed to the Village Manager. My fear is that the village would dismiss any idea that might reduce available street parking for Irwin Center events.
Kate Duff September 02, 2012 at 04:57 PM
I'll sign that letter. It's a dangerous intersection for motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians. In fact, may I suggest you consider circulating a petition among nearby residents and businesses, asking the Village to study & then implement a traffic safety plan for that intersection? There are a number of lower cost options that could be explored in addition to the reduced street parking you suggest -- signing the pedestrian crosswalk, regular speed traps, speed feedback signs, etc.
D Wilson September 03, 2012 at 02:04 PM
Sounds like a call to action Kate.I took a closer look at the line-of-sight problem yesterday and one safety option (in lieu of installing a 4 way stop) might be to eliminate the last 3 parking spaces on eastbound Ridge just west of Highland. The reason I prefer a stop sign is that eastbound traffic tends to accelerate leaving downtown Homewood making it all the more dangerous trying to "inch out" from Highland with your sight line blocked by those parked cars.. I witnessed a high impact accident at Highland and 183rd where a Mom in her car was broadsided trying to cross southbound from Highland taking her boy to Willow.I have a fear it will happen again.This is a congested, high traffic area especially for those evening summer concerts at Irwin. Not so much an issue during the day when there are no parked cars to block sight lines.
HngCln September 03, 2012 at 11:51 PM
Soooo, Dixie and Ridge? You can read the sign right after the police conduct the old Soviet style shakedown, i mean " safety check" outside the police station on Dixie, tying up traffic down to 175th and Dixie. $20,000!! What a racket!!
T'sMom September 05, 2012 at 10:18 PM
June and Tony, I've lived in Homewood for over 30 years. Yes, I always pay my water bill in person when possible. Yes, I have gone to the village hall on Saturdays to voice my concerns and/or issues before Mr. Hofeld, as always nothing is done. Yes, I have gone to several board meetings in the 30 years I have lived here with my concerns and issues only to fall on deaf ears. As I've stated before if it's not on the agenda or what Mr.Hofeld desires, he's not concerned. I agree with babyboomer, who stated "Hofeld needs to consider the whole villages' needs and not just his buddies who want to turn Homewood into another village where they can rip us off with useless expenditures. Why not just clean up the existing sign!!" Yes, nepotism is rampant in Homewood as always. In the 30 years I've lived here, year after year, this village spends more & more and gives the taxpayer's less & less which has become Homewood's motto.

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