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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.

babyboomer August 29, 2012 at 01:38 PM
Yep, just what we need to spend more money on, another useless expenditure!! How about getting all those DEAD Ash trees cut down!! Maybe we need someone inthe village hall who knows how to curb un-needed spending. Time to go Hofield!!
S August 29, 2012 at 02:12 PM
What happend with the 183rd street fence and TIF request?
Marcus Bernath August 29, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Typical Democrat!!! Spend spend spend.Obama gone then Hofeld!!!
Anita August 29, 2012 at 02:47 PM
Well I just hope it is an accurate sign. As you drive south... past the shopping area in Homewood the sign has an arrow telling you the shopping district is ahead! You mean in Flossmoor? As you turn off Center, heading east on Birch, the sign says Issac Walton is ahead! It is? I thought it was north of Ridge Road all the years I have lived here. Get those right before we invest in new ones. Who knows how many more are taking folks in round-about directions. And Babyboomer is right. Across from my house the tree is sooooo dead the bare branches hit you in the head when you walk by. Kids pull on them and swing while walking to-and-from James Hart. That is real safe! Every storm they just fall off the tree... rotted-out. The village threatened to fine a neighbor for a dead tree in his yard... but don't take care of their own trees.
ridgeroadmike August 29, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Actually, it's not a useless expenditure at all. The old sign is pretty crappy and a new, electronic sign would be helpful. I do question the timing, though. This is really not that urgent an issue; perhaps it might have been better to wait until the economy straightened up before spending money on this?
Southside2 August 29, 2012 at 05:01 PM
What does 5th Quarter have to do with this, Tony?
SouthSide August 29, 2012 at 05:14 PM
What does Obama have to do with this? Hofeld is a member of the Greater Homewood Party.
TG August 29, 2012 at 05:48 PM
Most of those signs are for bike routes. I believe the sign on Center & Birch about Izaak Walton is intended for bikers, and it is directing them to the intersection at Aberdeen and 183d, which has a traffic signal, unlike the one at Center. That makes a lot of sense to me, and I go that way to get to Izaak Walton, even in a car.
Ron Wexler August 29, 2012 at 05:56 PM
I think our Village Board does an amazing job and agree with most of what they do. Being in Real Estate and dealing with the financial struggle most people are having on a daily basis I do question every dollar being spent and ask "is this the right time for this investment". I know our village looks fantastic and every little upgrade helps...just wonder is now the best time, is the money coming from our already astronomical property taxes, are we just using up some of the tax money the Federal Government has been "giving" to the states?
T'sMom August 29, 2012 at 06:14 PM
There you have it, "The final vote was three to three, with Village President Richard Hofeld casting the tiebreaking "yes" vote." Did our village president hear or read his Homewood constituents comments on the HF Patch in regard to this sign before his vote? Is he concerned about spending our hard earned Homewood taxpayers money on an exorbitant price for a sign? NO, he has his own agenda, with no concern for the taxpayers. As babyboomer stated: "Yep, just what we need to spend more money on, another useless expenditure!! Maybe we need someone in the village hall who knows how to curb un-needed spending. Time to go Hofield!!" I agree, time for Mr. Hofeld to retire, he is out of touch with most of his constituents. Homewood needs to enact term limits which are long over due in regard to the Homewood's village president position. Homewood needs to stop the careless, reckless spending in this economy. It's become a frequent habit of Homewood.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (Editor) August 29, 2012 at 08:25 PM
The 183rd Street fence passed, as did he TIF money allocation. We'll have the Aurelio's TIF piece up tomorrow morning.
June Whitehand August 30, 2012 at 11:19 AM
Good point Tony, those with issues about what is going on with the village should get involved. Great way to start is to stop by on a Saturday morning and talk with Hofeld---and if you still have issues with the way the village is being run, you have two choices; you can move---or you can run for office. When no one runs against those being supported by the party in power things will continue going more that direction (regardless of the organization)
Juvenal August 30, 2012 at 11:46 AM
Plenty of people are not comfortable with conflict and awkward situations, and plenty more may not be articulate enough to argue their positions against an experienced pol, so I don't know why confronting the mayor at one of his Saturday bull sessions should be a prerequisite to opposing his policies or his political candidacy. Our system is designed so that persons unhappy with their representatives are not required to "move" -- or run for office themselves. But I agree some fresh blood is needed in local politics....
D Wilson September 02, 2012 at 12:44 PM
Priorities Mr Hofeld...priorities. For example, someday a driver will be killed or injured unless a 4 way stop sign is installed at Highland and Ridge.Coming north off Highland drivers are totally blinded to east bound traffic because of parked cars by the Irwin Center.It is EXTREMELY dangerous and only a matter of time before a serious accident. How many stop signs could you install in the village for $21,000? Priorities, Mr Hofeld..priorities.
babyboomer September 02, 2012 at 01:27 PM
I always pay my water bill in person. I have lived in this village for 28 years and have seen a lot of shenanigans at City Hall. 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!!
Tim F. September 02, 2012 at 02:03 PM
It's governments duty to keep you informed. I say buy two signs. Install one where proposed and replace the park district sign at 183rd and governors with the same type. Split the cost with the park district. Too often message boards have "stale" information. Sharing would provide important and valuable information at all times. Ms Colton has a valid concern however the current ordinance dictates the minimum duration of the message displayed. I'm assuming fast flashing graphics of bugs bunny won't be displayed causing motorists to lose focus.
D Wilson September 02, 2012 at 02:21 PM
This reminds me of my days in Chicago when Dick Daley (sr) put his young sons on the city payroll with the job of thinking up city slogans for banners he hung over the outer drive. Sometimes it gets very boring deciding how to waste taxpayer money......and as Daley said, "what father wouldn't do that for his sons!". Priorities Mr Hofeld, priorities.
Tim F. September 02, 2012 at 03:10 PM
With respect, you're grasping. It's obvious you have an axe to grind with Mr. Hofeld. Unless Hofeld's relatives are in the sign business or are indeed hired to come up with witty material for the sign you're muddying the waters. Remember that three others voted yes as well. With respect, stop signs can not be installed "just because". There are certain warrants that must be met as per the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. And unfortunately one of the warrants discuss the number of accidents at that particular intersection in question.
D Wilson September 02, 2012 at 03:54 PM
With all due respect to proper procedure, I invite you to try to edge out of Highland onto Ridge into busy traffic, blinded in one direction, and you will not need to study stats to tell you how dangerous it is. An alternative to a stop sign might be expanding the no parking zone along the south side of Ridge, at least far enough from Highland so a driver can get a view of westbound traffic as he/she exits northbound Highland.
Tim F. September 02, 2012 at 04:04 PM
See!! Now you're thinking. I disagree to the statement that a study is not needed. I fully agree 100% to the alternative idea that sight distance may be improved by reducing and /or eliminating the hazard. No different than bushes or signs on a corner. Now suggest this to the village manager in writing and await the response!
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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