A seat on the Homewood Village Board held for more than 12 years by Trustee Lisa Purcell changed hands Dec. 19 when trustees unanimously approved the appointment of Allisa Opyd to fill the open board position.
On Dec. 12, Purcell attended her last board meeting. She announced she was stepping down because changes in her personal and professional life made it hard for her to devote the time and energy she felt the community deserves.
Mayor Rich Hofeld said he nominated Opyd to serve the rest of Purcell’s term through April 2025 because of her history of service to the village.
“After I received notification that Lisa was going to step down, I talked to several people and I chose (to nominate) Allisa Opyd based on her community involvement in the past and her interest in it currently,” he said.
“She’s a bundle of energy. She loves the community and she’s involved in the community. She has an excellent relationship with the community, the businesses. She’s well known and respected. She will be an excellent trustee.”
Other trustees echoed that assessment when they welcomed Opyd to the board. Trustee Anne Colton said she has wanted to serve with Opyd for some time.
“I think you’re going to be fantastic,” she said. “I think it was a great choice. This is going to give the community and the board some energy we’ve needed for a long time.”
Opyd noted that she and Colton ran against each other years ago, and Colton won that contest. Several years later, Opyd ran again and won, but she opted to take a job with the village staff instead of serving on the board.
The staff position evolved from her volunteer work helping manage village events. She became the village events manager in about 2011 and served until August 2022, when she accepted a job in the private sector.
Opyd said the loss to Colton turned out for the best. She believes her experience on the village staff will be an asset in her role as trustee because she knows the process involved in enacting the board’s policy decisions.
“What an honor it’s been to work with such an incredible staff. I’m looking forward to continuing that relationship with everyone,” she said when she took her seat for her first meeting. “I’m looking forward to working with this board as well. I’m here to represent the people here in Homewood and hopefully be their voice.”
Opyd’s oath of office was administered by Cook County Circuit Court Judge Barbara Dawkins, a former village trustee.
Purcell departs the board
When Lisa Purcell was first elected to the village board more than a dozen years ago, she was the owner of Independent Days Adult and Senior Care Center in downtown Homewood, and was serving on the village’s Senior Advisory Committee.
She didn’t think of herself as a politician.
When the mayor approached her about becoming a trustee, she agreed to serve.
“I truly love this town and thought what better way to give back than to get involved,” she said.
During her years on the board, a number of accomplishments stood out as high points for her, especially economic development projects.
The first to come to mind was the downtown redevelopment of the former bank building on the northwest corner of Ridge Road and Martin Avenue into La Banque Hotel and La Voute Bar + Bistro, which opened in 2015.
She cited the Calumet Country Club redevelopment attempt in 2019-2021 as the toughest situation the board dealt with during her tenure. The owner’s plan to convert the golf course to a warehousing facility met with stiff resistance from the community. The board eventually denied the owner’s rezoning request, and he successfully sued to disconnect the property from the village.
“I’m still very proud of the way that we handled Calumet Country Club, because our backs were against the wall,” she said. “No matter which way it turned out, it was going to stink, but I think we got out of it the best that we could.”