Brown Derby Road and a small section of 175th Street will close permanently Friday.
The move has angered some local residents, especially those in Thornton who use the road to access Halsted Street in Homewood. Brown Derby Road is one of two roads directly connecting Thornton and Homewood.
The closure comes after the villages of Thornton and Homewood sold portions of the roadway to Menards this spring to enable the company to expand its store at 17545 S. Halsted St. The expansion project is expected to be completed in January 2017 at the earliest.
The deal also included an intergovernmental agreement in which Homewood will share sales tax revenue with Thornton for 20 years after the expanded store begins operating.
When the Homewood Board of Trustees approved the sale and agreement April 28, village officials noted that Menards officials said the company would consider relocating the store if its expansion plans could not move forward.
Homewood currently receives about $205,000 in sales tax and $58,000 in property taxes annually from the store, according to Finance Director Dennis Bubenik.
While Homewood trustees spoke in favor of the plan and no residents spoke on the issue at the April 28 board meeting, Thornton residents and officials were more vocal in their opposition to the plan.
The Thornton board approved the agreements on May 4. On May 13, an online petition was started to communicate that opposition to the Illinois Department of Transportation. The text of “Save Brown Derby Road!!” notes that the villages opted to close the road “directly against the wishes of a great many of the Thornton community.”
As of Thursday, Sept. 24, the petition had 188 signatures and 62 comments.
Even though the petition did not succeed in stopping the road closure, Thornton officials have acknowledged the community’s concerns.
The village website currently has an announcement about the impending closure.
“We apologize for the inconvenience and recognize that many residents are upset with the decision to close the road. We also want to remind residents that Brown Derby Road to Halsted St. was not solely owned by Thornton. It was never our intention to close it. We explored many options to reroute traffic (including a road between Jewel and Target) that were denied.”
In the May edition of the village newsletter, “Village of Thornton News and Views,” Village President Robert “Bob” Kolosh notes that once Homewood made the decision to close the portion of 175th Street east of Halsted, Thornton did not have much choice.
“With that closure inevitable by Homewood, Thornton would have a road to nowhere,” he said.
Menards agreed to pay Thornton $406,000 and Homewood $174,000 for the parcels north and east of its store.
“We have made the best of a bad situation,” Kolosh said in the newsletter. “All of us would prefer that Brown Derby Road remain open. Knowing, however, that the road was being closed regardless of our wishes, the only responsible course of action was to maximize some benefit from this unfortunate situation rather than watching the road close with nothing to show for it.”
Homewood trustees agree to sell portion of 175th Street to enable Menards expansion (HF Chronicle, April 29, 2015)