Police practice response to shooting incident with drill at Churchill School

Tom Vander Woude takes the oath of office 
administered by Village Clerk Marilyn Thomas 
while his three daughters and wife (not pictured) 
look on.
(Photo by Quincy Crump/HF Chronicle)

The Homewood Board of Trustees welcomed new Economic and Community Development Director Tom Vander Woude to the village staff Tuesday, July 14.

Vander Woude will be the first economic development director since the village reorganized earlier this year, splitting the responsibilities in the former Building and Community Development Department. The Building Department is now supervised by Fire Chief Robert Grabowski, and the economic development director reports to Village Manager Jim Marino.
Vander Woude comes to Homewood after serving three years as the deputy director of transportation and infrastructure for the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association. He previously served as regional planner for the Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission.

He has a master’s degree in urban planning and policy from the University of Illinois.

Vander Woude was highly touted by Marino. 

In a memo to the board, Marino said: “Tom has a reputation for being an excellent project manager, very responsive to municipal requests and is highly regarded by South Suburban municipalities.” 

However, Vander Woude’s hiring was also a matter of contention at the end of the board meeting when Trustee Ray Robertson read a statement accusing Marino of ignoring the job qualifications established for the economic development director position and for failing to provide requested information about the position.

He acknowledged that Marino had the authority to hire whoever he wanted to for the position but noted that Vander Woude “has not a single day of economic development experience.”
Marino said after the meeting that he thought he had provided the information Robertson requested, but when he learned the trustee was not satisfied with what he received, he provided additional information in a memo that was copied to the full board.

The rest of the board supported Marino’s decision to hire Vander Woude.

Trustee Jay Heiferman said when he saw Vander Woude’s credentials, his first thought was “That fits.” He and Trustee Lisa Purcell noted the key role transportation plays in Homewood’s economy, which line up with Vander Woude’s experience in transportation planning.

Trustee Anne Colton said it is not the board’s role to intervene in the administration’s hiring decisions.

“In the council-manager form of government, this is how it works,” she said.

Board President Richard Hofeld also supported Marino’s choice.

“Jim Marino and I have worked together on economic development for years, and we’re looking forward to working with Tom,” he said.

In other business, the board approved a resolution supporting Mack Companies’ request to reinstate property tax incentives for the business condominium complex at 17759 to 17859 Bretz Drive.

Bill Sandrick, attorney for Mack Companies, said the development had been granted tax incentives under its previous owner, and Mack officials were unaware those incentives had expired when the company bought the property.

“It’s basically unmarketable without the incentive,” he said, noting the tax costs would be about $7.50 per square foot, which would leave too little margin against the prevailing lease rate for units of that type.

James “Mack” McClelland, CEO of Mack Companies, also addressed the board and assured them he could have the units rented in the near future if the incentive was approved.
Trustees also approved:

  • A resolution honoring Jason Resnak for 20 years service to the Homewood Fire Department
  • A contract with Southwest Town Mechanical to replace a 20-ton roof-top heating unit for the Public Works Department garage at 17755 Ashland Ave.
  • The final easement between the village and Izaak Walton Preserve for the 60-inch storm sewer pipe installed in 1999
  • A change to the liquor license ordinance to allow holders of class 4a and class 8 licenses to serve alcohol, not limited to wine, from 10 a.m. to noon on Sundays
  • An amendment to a lease with AT&T for locating equipment at the Brian Carey Training Center at 1023 W. 191st St.
  • The appointments of Patricia Skermont-Pohrte to the Appearance Commission and Craig Schmidt to the Economic Development Committee
  • The reappointments of Marcia Nicholson, Deneen Sanders, Pamela Lau and Tom Tomaszewski to the Economic Development Committee
  • An agreement with Portillo’s Hot Dogs to allow Homewood police to enforce local traffic and parking laws in Portillo’s parking lot at Halsted and 175th streets.

The board also approved paying bills totaling $1,189,806.82. Mayor Richard Hofeld noted that about 80 percent of the total went six expense items: 

  • The city of Harvey for water, $331,000
  • Thorn Creek Sanitary District, $78,000
  • Ecom, the emergency dispatch center, $147,000
  • Village Hall renovations, $76,000
  • Martin Avenue streetscape construction, $158,000.

Contact Eric Crump at [email protected]


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