Palatine Won't Negotiate Purchase Of Flood-Damaged House
The Palatine Village Council voted against authorizing negotiations for the purchase of a flood-damaged home on Forest Avenue.
Palatine resident and former village council member Warren Kostka has been a fixture at board meetings for months, pleading his case that Palatine should buy his flood-damaged home.
Kostka has said that a federally mandated project to separate Palatine's sanitary sewer and storm water system in the 1980s resulted in more water heading toward Kostka's home at 108 N. Forest Avenue.
The dispute has been over what to do about it, how much fault the village has and how much Kostka's home actually has been damaged by flooding.
"I was very quiet for 20 years," Kostka said. "I worked with the staff. I tried everything. I think it's a political game. It's got to be."
This week the council considered and rejected authorizing village staff to negotiate a purchase of Kostka's home.
For residents who live near Kostka, the continuing deteroriation of his property has become more than just a headache. Kostka has placed a giant sign on his home: "WANT WATER? Buy A Home In Palatine."
A dug-out trench funnels water from the backyard to the front. Along the rear of the home sandbags are piled a few feet high. Near the driveway is a pile of chuncks of asphalt — apparently ripped up from the driveway to facilitate the trench.
Several neighbors spoke of their frustration at the board meeting.
"You should buy the house," one neighbor said. "Who's going to purchase that house anyway, you can't do anything with it anyway."
Another neighbor, Bob Boldog, who lives next door to Kostka, didn't dispute the water issue. He said his main worry was with what Kostka had done to the property — including a smelly compost pile in the front yard. Kostka disputed there was a compost pile.
"My concern is the declining value of living exactly next door to him," Boldog said. "The fact that he seems to be assisting the disrepair is what concerns me."
In the hallway after the vote, Kostka stepped outside of the council meeting and one neighbor yelled, "Time to clean up your yard, Warren. It's over."
Kostka said he has not tried to make the exterior of his home a nuisance.
"I don't have to do that," Kostka said. "I don't have to make it look bad."
Kostka said that his cost — repairs, flood damage, etc. — is in excess of six figures. He says the home is worthless because of structural damage from years of flooding, and he will not invest another cent.
"I have had a worthless house for 25 years," Kostka said.
Since 2002, Palatine has taken action to lessen the stormwater flow in the area, including oversized storm sewers to the south, additional inlets. In December 2011, Palatine approved plans to divert waste water from Fairgrounds Park. A new sanitary sewer will be installed on E. Lincoln Street from N. Forrest Avenue to just west of Hot Dog Richie's, 220 N. Northwest Highway.
"We are continuing to work toward improving the area," Village Manager Reid Ottesen said. "We don't wish this upon anybody."
"As for the rest, I think the direction to me from the council was clear. To go look at the property for property maintenance violations," Ottesen said. "We need to advise him of that. Provide a window of time for him to comply with the codes, if not [he will be ticketed]."
Brett Soukup, who lives at 31 N. Forest Avenue, said he too has had flood problems.
"No, I don't think they [Palatine] should buy [Kostka's] property," Soukup said.
Soukup said his home has been flooded twice in seven years, including July 2011. He said his home suffered structural damage and he had to spend $8,000 to stabilize it with three posts. He also contacted the village and got a sewer near his home lowered.
"I didn't go out and tear up my yard and torture my neighbors to get this done," Soukup added.
Kostka, who ran for mayor in 2009 and served on the Village Council from 1997 to 2005, said his cost in dollars far exceeds anything Soukup has experienced. Also, he said that his home has been hit the worst over the last 25 years.
There has been discussions of the village purchasing Kostka's backyard or offering money to assist in repairs and improvments, such as $10,000 for regrading the property.
For now the matter remains unresolved. Kostka has not filed a lawsuit because he said it would be too costly.
"What can I do except what I've been doing?" Kostka said.
Editor's Note: This story originally stated that no one disputed Kostka's contention that a federally mandated project to separate Palatine's sanitary sewer and storm water system in the 1980s resulted in more water heading toward his home. The village does dispute this point and the story has been corrected.