Ken Norman house demo 2022-01-12 033
Local News

Here First | Jan. 20

The future

We predict that …

  • District 161 Board of Education will hold a special meeting for a board retreat at 5 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 24, in Normandy Villa, 41 E Elmwood Drive in Chicago Heights. Check here for the agenda.
  • Homewood Board of Trustees will meet at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 25, in the board room of village hall, 2020 Chestnut. Check here for the agenda tomorrow afternoon.
  • Homewood Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public meeting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 27, in the board room at village hall, 2020 Chestnut Road, and remotely. Check here for remote login information. This is the next in a series of meetings for the purpose of informing residents and receiving questions and concerns about the comprehensive revision of the village zoning code.

We covered the launch of the project last summer:

This is a chance to be heard in a once-a-generation revision of zoning laws that help shape the community.

The past

You were there because we were there …

The biggest story last week was Carole Sharwarko’s coverage of the demolition of the Ken Norman house on Kedzie Avenue across from Homewood-Flossmoor High School. We provided livestreaming on Facebook and photos of the walls coming down and added aerial footage and interviews by Marcellus Marsh of Bionic Content.

Demolitions are always interesting to cover, especially for landmark structures like the Norman house. The loss of a well-known building removes something familiar from the landscape, altering our experience and taking a nick out of the sculpture of our terrain. As Flossmoor Mayor Michelle Nelson noted, it’s a bittersweet moment. The Norman house was once the realization of a dream, and it added a quirky, modern piece to the village’s impressive architectural heritage.

The process of demolition is fascinating, too. It’s both violent and delicate. When the machinery attacked the Norman house, the walls put up little resistance. It was a pile of rubble in about two hours. But there also were moments of odd beauty, the revelation of some interior graffiti art, some of which was fairly crude, but it showed the old, abandoned house had been a canvas for local artists for some time.

But the removal of a building that is no longer serving a productive function is also an opportunity to introduce something new, which is what developer Randy Pertler and his group plan to do. We’ll follow their progress and hope to have more details about the project soon.

A crew from Cachey Construction starts chipping away at the back of the Ken Norman house on Jan. 12. The structure was razed in about two hours. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)

Virtual life

Flossmoor Public Library announced recently it will partner with NeuLingo to offer live, online Chinese culture classes for children ages 7-12. The program will include a virtual tour of Chinese cities and an opportunity to learn about Chinese festivals and a bit of the language.

Registration for all 10 sessions began Jan. 15. Email [email protected] (subject: Learn) to register. Classes are held on Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. on March: 16, 23, 30; April 6, 13, 20, 27; May 4, 11, 18.

Ice arena rehab updates. Kudos to the Homewood-Flossmoor Park District for creating a place on the website to allow skaters to watch the progress on the renovation of the H-F Ice Arena.
The sudden loss of the facility in November was a blow to local skaters, especially those in youth hockey programs. Waiting for the reopening will perhaps be eased by the ability to see progress unfold.

What we’re watching

Not on TV. These are things we’re paying attention to in the H-F community. Let us know what you’re watching. We’ll watch, too.

Something has to be done about 183rd Street. Crazy driving has earned the ire of many H-F residents in recent years, intensifying after a fatal crash in 2020 at the intersection of 183rd Street and Center Avenue. The problem is general, but attention is often focused on 183rd Street as the center of traffic evil in the community.

Signs urging motorists to reduce speed on 183rd Street sprouted along the route in the summer of 2020 after a fatal crash at the intersection with Center Avenue. Good Speed Cycle is starting a campaign to introduce new signs along the street urging changes to better control traffic. (Chronicle file photo)

Homewood officials are working on finding solutions. A traffic study commissioned by the village was completed last year, and it includes some intriguing possibilities for putting 183rd Street traffic on a diet. Carole Sharwarko is working on a deep dive into the study and its various suggestions.

But solutions with a big impact often come with a big price tag and take a while to implement. In the meantime, Good Speed Cycle has a new project to help keep the community’s focus on the problem.

The cycle shop (located, as it happens, on 183rd Street) is selling T-shirts with a slogan inspired by Woody Guthrie’s famous guitar sticker (“This machine kills fascists“) The GSC shirts will sport the slogan “This machine kills traffic” (with an image of a bicycle). The shirts are being sold for $25 to $28 but $8 of each sale will go to supplying businesses and residents along 183rd with “Fix this street” yard signs.

I’ve been exchanging email with GSC’s Steve Buchtel, who was involved in the development of Homewood’s bike plan earlier in this century. I’ll be writing more soon about the issues as he sees them and on the village’s next steps in the process of addressing 183rd Street.

Also, Buchtel invited local cyclists and pedestrians to leave a voicemail on GSC’s Worst/Best Hotline, 708-794-6588.

“Leave a message about what, in your opinion, is the worst thing about riding bikes in Homewood-Flossmoor, and what’s the best. We might use your message in the What’s Your Speed (podcast).”

In the meantime, there’s T-shirts and the hotline, both opportunities to have a say in the effort to improve the community for travel by foot, pedal or vehicle.

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