Residents of Homewood saw a live show of democracy in the works Tuesday evening.
Supporters and opponents of a proposed open, public space in downtown Homewood spoke up at Tuesday's village board meeting, many asking the board to step back and slow down with the project.
The four trustees were split on the project, but ultimately decided to heed residents' advice. With two dissenting votes from trustees Anne Colton and Lisa Purcell, the plan failed. Trustees Jay Heiferman and Tom Kataras were absent; the motion needed four "yes" votes to pass.
Prior to the vote, design firm LaKota Group presented revised options for two main locations for the new public space: the stretch of Martin Avenue north of Ridge (extending to Village Hall) and the stretch of Martin Avenue just south of Ridge (extending to the Gottschalk House). Both are likely to incorporate features ranging from a splash pad to outdoor fireplaces, public seating and Tivoli lights.
The updated plan knocked $200,000 off the package price, Colton said. Still, there's more work to be done before the board can agree to such a large expenditure.
"The plan is to offer more opportunities for public input, and present an updated plan in a few months," Colton said.
Village officials hope the development will increase local retail traffic and revenue and provide an economic return to the village. The idea is to "develop a heart—a gathering place for the town," Community Development Director Paula Wallrich said at an earlier meeting.
Since first broaching the idea in Fall 2013, the village has moved quickly with the concept. Many residents said they feel uninformed on the project, and asked the village to give pause on the topic, and work with residents.
"I think the village's communication could have been better," Colton said. "There are 200 ways to get in touch with people, and we as a village need to use all 200 ways."
LaKota Group will dive back into the plans for another round of revisions. Colton said she's eager to see what they bring to the table in the coming months.
"I want it to be something that's more reflective of the community, and what the people want. Something that reflects the desires, needs and wants of the residents," she said.
She was grateful for the board's cooperative approach to discussing the topic, especially when addressing residents' concerns.
"We do have a responsive government," she said. "We do listen. We try our best."