People from the region dig into composting at Homewood event

Homewood trustees voted Tuesday to authorize Mayor Richard Hofeld to enter into a contract with the owner of two downtown buildings, 17900 Dixie Highway and 2066 Ridge Road. Prior to the vote, the measure was questioned by two residents.

The purchase price will be $1.16 million — $505,000 for the Ridge Road property and $655,000 for the Dixie Highway property. The Ridge Road building will be paid for from the general fund, and the Dixie Highway building will be paid for from the water fund because the village plans to use it as the site of a new water tower.

The proposal to put a water tower at the prominent location was called into question by residents Dave and Yoka Ward.

“Why would we want to put a water tower in such a prominent location in the village?” Dave said, noting the industrial look most water towers have. He asked why the new tower couldn’t be built near the site of the current tower, which is located at the northwest corner of village hall.

He and his spouse, Yoka, who is a trustee on the Homewood Public Library Board of Directors, also wondered why the village would be willing to remove the property from the real estate tax rolls.

“We solely depend on revenue from real estate taxes,” she said, referring to the library, park district and school districts. “The village has the advantage of receiving revenue through sales taxes.”

Hofeld indicated he was sympathetic to their concerns.

“Those were the questions I had when this first came up,” he said.

Public Works Director John Schaefer said the old tower, which was built in 1935, needs to be replaced.

“It needs a lot of work. The estimated work we need to have done just to have it painted is $800,000 alone,” he said.

He said the village looked at several possible sites but didn’t have much flexibility in choosing a site for the new tower. It had to be located within a few blocks of the current tower in order to maintain balance in the water distribution system and deliver consistent water pressure to residents.

One possibility was the St. Joseph Catholic Parish parking lot, but the tower would have had to be situated too close to nearby residences.

The village hall site was ruled out because of the proximity of buildings, including village hall and the public safety complex. None of those buildings existed when the current tower was built.

There is also an underground geothermal system that cannot be disturbed, he said.

The village hopes to attract a developer to convert the Ridge Road site into a mixed-used commercial property that will contribute to the village’s transit-oriented development plan.

The Ridge Road property is one of the oldest buildings in the downtown area. It was built in 1891 and served as the Mueller Saloon for many years, according to local historian Jim Wright. The building originally was two stories with a turret, but it was extensively remodeled in the 1960s and no longer exhibits historical exterior features.

The Dixie Highway property was Homewood’s second public library building and served in that capacity from 1962 to 1990, when the current library building was completed.

News by email

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Free weekly newsletter

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
Most read stories this week