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.