Homewood Takes Next Step Towards Casino

Homewood is one step closer towards developing a casino, but village officials say there's still a long way to go.

Homewood trustees voted Tuesday night to take the next step towards developing a casino along with the Village of East Hazel Crest.

Two agenda items now help to set the stage for a potential future casino development. The first is an intergovernmental revenue sharing agreement between Homewood and the Village of East Hazel Crest. As the larger property holder, East Hazel Crest will be receiving 55 percent of proceeds, leaving Homewood with the remaining 45 percent.

Trustees also voted to hire law firm Barnes & Thornburg to solicit interest from casino businesses. Homewood Village President Richard Hofeld says the firm employs statisticians and financial analysts to determine the best, most profitable choice for the villages. This is a favorable means to partner with a casino for proposal, he says.

Homewood agreed to spend no more than $135,000 for legal fees. East Hazel Crest is expected to agree to a slightly higher spending cap. Should the villages decide to partner with a casino, the casino will reimburse both governments for 100 percent of the legal costs incurred, regardless of whether the project succeeds or fails.

Just the first step ...

The reality of a local casino is still a long way off, however, and trustees want residents to know their opinion counts.

“I think there’s a lot of concern that we’re trying to get this run through without having any public input,” said Trustee Tom Kataras. “We’re going to have public hearings. This is not a slam-dunk thing."

Village President Richard Hofeld says the village started thinking about a potential casino over two years ago when both Homewood and East Hazel Crest were looking for options to develop the land just southwest of I-294 and Halsted Street. Land developers told the village no large-scale retail stores were suitable for the location, Hofeld said—but a casino is.

Trustee Anne Colton helped to clarified the board’s current position for residents who may be off-put by the news.

“What we have to do is, we have to examine every possibility. We have to examine every opportunity that we have as a village to maintain and preserve our community,” Colton said. “So that’s what we’re doing right now. We’re just looking and we’re definitely going to have informational sessions within the next month or two.”

The aforementioned meeting will be held sometime in December, according to Hofeld. Both law firm Barnes & Thornburg and lobbyists will be present to answer questions, he says.

Perhaps the most pressing issue, though, is that there is not yet a South Suburban casino license available. But that’s not dissuading Hofeld.

“We’ve been told that this is a very opportune time for the legislation to pass in the veto session,” he said.

Should legislation pass and a license becomes available, there are still other obstacles, such as other proposals for South Suburban casinos. In the case of Country Club Hills, their proposal partner —claiming that Country Club Hills remains the ideal location for a casino. Not so, says Hofeld.

“I’m sure everyone feels that they have the best game in town, we know we have the best,” he said.

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BUTCH November 30, 2012 at 03:22 AM
The site selected for the Casino 30 some years ago was noted for it's thoroughbred and later Harness racing. Jobs were plenty at the track and around it part and full time, and there was no serious crime and or make believe problems,a few years ago the same hysteria was being waged when a off track parlor was opened where Bagio's is now and closed because of a bad location for off track and decline in racing nationwide. The same protestors concerns on schools and boogeymen, exact same hysteria and hand wringing by the phonies of Homewodd. A Casino on Halsted would be like hitting the lotto for the 2 towns, this has location and the best Police Dept in the So burbs which will be bigger and better with the needed revenue and like Joliet will have the resources to rebuild a aging infrastructure and add new great ideas, remember the abandoned plans for new housing at G-L BANK downtown back in the BUSH years? Wake up Homewood the water rates are going to keep climbing what other Business will bring this scale of jobs and resources so badly needed to your village? Who in this time will settle in Homewood due to the rising costs and demand for water in a time of drought and low lake levels especially. The Mayors and council who have proposed this should be honored, can u imagine what Dwight Welch would do with a location on 1-80-294 & Halsted? What a bunch of rhubarbs and phonies these new HOMEWODD people are!
Karen V. Maurer November 30, 2012 at 03:02 PM
Ryan, I attended the Village Board meeting as an observer for the HF Area League of Women Voters. Thank you for a fair and accurate article. Karen Maurer
Karen V. Maurer November 30, 2012 at 03:03 PM
I am a member/reader of Patch. See my comment above and submit it. Thank you.
Tobias Cichon November 30, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Fair, Dinkum. To that end... "Will gambling bring increases in crime? Study after study shows there is no correlation between legalized gaming and an increase in crime rates. The National Gambling Impact Study Commission, National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences and the University of Chicago National Research Council all came to this same conclusion. The Governmental Accounting Office (GAO) also reports there is no link between video gaming and an increase in crime rates, social problems or bankruptcy." Read more here: http://www.bnd.com/2012/10/20/2367188/pro-industry-is-regulated-wont.html#storylink=cpy
BUTCH December 01, 2012 at 03:20 AM
Back in the day Homewood was a largely blue collar town that was recovering like everywhere from WWII and KOREA the golden age of thoroughbred racing featured a match race of two of the most outstanding horses of racing at WASHINGTON PARK the site of the casino, people back then were realistic and did not act like the moral majority the puritans on this Blog think they with their concerned voters and usual anti progress all of it based on fear mongering and false equivalency such as TOYOTA PARK and Bridge view and HW - Casino, make a real comparison between Joliet s Casinos and this one been made, Joliet has rebuilt their infrastructure and downtown, built a Baseball Stadium refurbished the Rialto Theater and upgraded their Municipal offices and Courts for starters and none of the jobs the Casino's created were the usual misinfo on min wage, the Casinos did not drive a single established businesses out but brought more in with decent paying jobs as well, stop the hoity- toidy nonsense it is all a anti progress agenda, this town is no longer in a position to attract more big box stores or gymnasiums or even restaurants the last two on 175th are gone for good the added police concerns are real and will be more so if this village does nothing and watches this property decay as the Glen wood mall down the street has do you serious think there are potential developers lining up to create some new mall or restaurant or gymnasium on this PROPERTY?


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