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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.

No one disputes some of Kostka's claims: 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 . A new sanitary sewer will be installed on E. Lincoln Street from N. Forrest Avenue to just west of , 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.

Forest January 07, 2012 at 06:44 AM
Perhaps you would care to purchase a home near them. There is one available one block east or west. Make an offer, see how you like them for neighbors.
Ellen January 07, 2012 at 07:20 AM
I don't need to see it to believe that the Village should purchase the property and put an end to all of this. Just how wrecked does your home and its value have to be by flooding before you realize you're wasting money fixing it up when no one will want to buy it anyway?
Concerned Resident January 07, 2012 at 05:52 PM
We tell our children that no matter how much they kick and scream they will not help get their way... How is the way this is being handled any different? What kind of an example would be set if the Village was to give in and purchase because of this unacceptable behavior.
Vicki Wilson January 07, 2012 at 09:02 PM
The Village should "give in and purchase" because it was the Village who caused the problem to begin with. Mr. Kostka tried quietly for 20 years to get the Village to do the right thing, as it has with other properties in our town. They have refused. How would you feel if your main asset was worthless due to someone else's poor decision-making? The Kostkas have spent so much of their money over the years due to the extreme flooding. To put additional money in at this point is just pouring money down the drain, no pun intended.
Vicki Wilson January 07, 2012 at 09:10 PM
By the way, I completely understand the neighbors' frustration. I would be frustrated too. But I would direct my frustration at the people who caused the problem and who can fix the problem - the Village.
Forest January 07, 2012 at 09:29 PM
Vicki, Please explain to me how all "the water" has defaced the trees in his yard, made the gutters fall off( by the way gutters help with flood control as do trees), started a compose pile next to his neighbor(full of coffee grounds and egg shells and other garbage that stinks), made his sideing fall off his house, and erected huge ugly signs on the front of his house. Water can do that? Check your facts, the village tried to take steps to help. Warren wants all or nothing, that's his problem. In 20 years he has never tried to make it any better or gradually work towards a solution. How come he never lets anyone official in his house to inspect? Has he ever shown pictures of the damage? You must be good friends, try moving next door to him, give it sometime but sooner or later you will grow tired of him too. You certainly don't understand.
Vicki Wilson January 07, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Forest, I understand why you say I couldn't possibly understand your situation. That may be exactly how the Kostkas feel - that nobody truly understands their situation. I don't want to speak for them. What I do know is that I have gotten to know them over the past 3-4 years and know they are good people who are in a very bad situation. The Village could have rectified this situation years ago and bought the property as they have with many others, so please direct your frustration to them. Please don't believe everything someone tells you until you get both sides of the story. The Village is the original cause of the problems at 108 Forest. It is time for a resolution for everyone's sake.
concerend January 08, 2012 at 09:58 PM
Warren has burnt many bridges with counsel members,citizens and neighbors alike for a very long time now. . People who once had symapthy for his situation no longer do based on both his actions and his behavior towards them as well what he has done to the exterior of his house and yard. These are the reasons why people are disgusted with him and by doing these things he has made this a neighborhood issue. The village had nothing to do with Warren's treatment of people or the dispicable way he keeps the exterior of his house and yard, which gets worse as time passes. That is all of Warren's doing. He now has to live with the repruccsions of those actions.
concerend January 08, 2012 at 09:59 PM
You cannot treat citizens, neighbors and village board members, with disrespect and vengeance, make false accusations, slander people publicly and expect to be treated in return with respect or gain symapthy. Yes this has been going on too long but Warren has caused that as well by refusing help from the village on several occasions. Sometimes you just don't get your way, grow up and act like this man that Vicki says that you are becasue we certainly haven't seen it. When we see that happening then maybe Warren will start gaining a little more tolerance, respect and sympathy. This is a good community who has a strong connection and we are tired of Warren's antics. When he starts showing us respect by cleaning up the exterior of his house and his yard and treating his neighbors decently maybe that same respect will be returned. Until then Warren is getting what he deserves....flooding or no flooding....it's about his lack of character, his treatment of citizens, neighbors and village members and the things he has chosen to do to his house that has been an eyesore in our neighborhood for years and years, that we have tolerated until now.
Jean January 08, 2012 at 10:14 PM
I do not know anyone in this story personally, however over time I have learned that if you want anyone to care about your problem, you need to make it someone else's problem. It sounds to me like Warren has done just that. If he quietly sat by and did not let his property's disrepair bother neighbors, well, would anyone care at all much less be an article online with people commenting on it? I would guess, probably not. Hopefully all involved will get resolution to the issue soon.
concerend January 08, 2012 at 11:22 PM
Jean, Unfortunately Warren has not done that. The neighbors are not rallying behind Warren to help him with his cause. His actions and behaviors over time have done the complete opposite. We are not going to village meetings supporting his cause. We are gong to the village complaining about what he has chosen to do with his existing house as well as his actions and behaviors towards us and other citizens around the area. This does not sit well with the village, the exact people he needs to help him with this situation. He would have been better off getting the support of the neighborhood because we do look out for each other and support one another. As I said before he has burnt all the bridges he had many years ago and he has done so knowingly and willingly.
Scott January 09, 2012 at 12:51 AM
Interesting - the "WANT WATER" sign is now gone.
Jim January 09, 2012 at 01:07 AM
Hmmm, seems like there are two courses of action to be take: 1) Village of Palatine condems the property and pays lot value for it and makes it a green space as they did with the gas station on Palatine and Plum Grove Rd, or 2) the owners mortgage the property to the max and walk away making it the banks problem.
Forest January 09, 2012 at 02:02 AM
Has he called a meeting with his neighbors? Nope. Perhaps years ago if he had before he became destructive, things may be different.
concerend January 09, 2012 at 02:22 AM
You know what Margaret.....There are ways to solve flooding problems and even reduce flooding issues without making your house and yard and eyesore as Warren has. Many neighbors have done that and have done it very successfully. We all have had flooding issues and have rectified them. If he would like neighborhood support he has never once asked for it. All we get are slanderous "newsclippings" or whatever his "publication" is called letting us know how "evil" the village council is. I respond to facts...not to emotional and vendictive rantings. Warren has turned down many offers made by the village and has treated his neighbors, citizens and board members very poorly; to put it nicely. These are the facts and that is what I am responding to. If Warren would like to present facts on what the village has done to help him or offers they have made him and why he chose not to take that help, pictures of the damage and what it has done to the inside of the house.....then I will be ready to listen but for the past 10-15 years he has not done that....and he certainly has been presenting himself in a very, very poor manner over that time as well.
Joe January 10, 2012 at 03:08 AM
I was hired by the builder (Myslo) that built the home next door west of Warren's on Wilson St. He had the home sold and I was doing the final grading prior to laying the sod on a saturday morning in 1990. Kostka was harrassing me and following me around with his video camera and insisting that I stop because this project was causing him flooding issues. A few minutes later the builder arrived at the job and told me to continue, as his detailed grading plan was approved by the village. He informed me that he had altered the grade and resurveyed it several times and was even forced to lower the home to appease Kostka. After he and Kostka exchanged a few words, Kostka called the police. The officer heard both sides, told Kostka to stay on his own property, said it was a civil matter and left. I remember later eating lunch at Popeye's down the street with the builder and he told me how Kostka had been harrassing him since he was issued a permit. He felt Warren was looking for someone to shoulder the expense for an existing problem. The builder was also an HVAC contractor and said his father had known the past two owners of Kostka's home dating back to the early 1950's, said the home had water problems since it was built, around 1948. I also remember the builder saying the natural grade slopes down from west to east between Ashland and Forest St. and he can't change that. I've done many similiar jobs for him since in Palatine without incident, but also without warren next door!
Kim January 10, 2012 at 04:29 AM
Ron, you brought up some very good points about the problems the Kostka's have experienced. I myself have known the Kostkas for over 6 years both personally and professionally. They are both honest, sincere, and caring individuals that I feel honored to know. As an educator, Mrs. Kostka has helped countless children in her 30 plus years of teaching. I personally have witnessed serveral occasions when Mrs.Kostka has gone way beyond the call of duty to insure that her students receive the best possible education. In addition, Mr. Koska is a respectable man that has served our comunity well. I am respectfully asking everyone that observes the situation at hand, not to judge or condem. While I understand that this is a very upsetting subject for many individuals involved, it is time we move towards a peaceful resolution. Even though this situation is just recently making headlines, Mr. & Mrs. Kostka have been dealing with the negative consequences for over 20 years. During this time, they have been unable to move forward as their property has suffered an extensive amount of damage both inside and out. As a result, they are left in a no-win situation. I am confident that the Village of Palatine can negotiate an acceptable agreement to purchase their property which is otherwise worthless. This is the right thing to do. This resolution will benefit not only the Kostkas, but the entire Palatine community.
Kim January 10, 2012 at 04:43 AM
I have realized that the property is an eye sore, but by throwing things and taking manners into your own hands has only caused more of a corruption. The village needs to do something besides just let it rot.
Jim Advance January 10, 2012 at 02:35 PM
Joe, thanks for the insight in your experience and information on the history of this house. Seems Warren didn't due his due diligence when he purchase the property. Can't blame the Village for something thats been a constant since 1950. I know Permaseal can come into old houses and install footing drains and a sump pump which would probably have fixed his problem.
Vicki Wilson January 10, 2012 at 03:26 PM
Jim Advance, Why do you keep insisting you know what would or would have fixed the problem? Have you seen the problem firsthand? Are you qualified to make that statement? There are different types of flooding problems. Are you familiar with the type the Kostkas have been dealing with all these years? If the Village allowed a house to be built on a lot not suitable for a home in the 40s and then made it worse by their actions in the 80s, that appears to make them more at fault, not less.
Jim Advance January 10, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Vicki W. How many conversations have you had with Permaseal or US Waterproofing or some of the local plumbers about this issue? I have had enough to comment intelligently. I manage three north shore buildings that have water issues every time we get one of these 100 year storms. My home has only flooded twice but I have overhead sews installed and three battery back up systems in my crawlspace so I think I know something on the subject. What is your expectise that you can comment?
Vicki Wilson January 10, 2012 at 03:45 PM
Jim Advance, Each situation is different. You cannot comment intelligently on something you have not seen firsthand. You cannot possibly know both sides of the story without witnessing it yourself.
Jim Advance January 10, 2012 at 03:55 PM
V.W. There are basically two types of flooding issues, water seepage and sewer back up. Now what is your expertise in flood control that caused you to comment?
Kate April 12, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Take a look at who is running this town, and look at how they're behaving! They would rather waste time on Warren Kostka and his house, than actually address the issue. All Mr. K is doing is bringing attention to the issue-- Which is.... PALATINE HAS A SERIOUS FLOODING PROBLEM!!! AND THE VILLAGE IS INCOMPETENT. I think it is a disgrace that grown-ups are so focused on picking on this man instead of fixing the problem which MANY residents not just Mr. K face. If the village of Palatine doesn't address and fix the problem with the storm sewers, flooding, etc, they will have even bigger problems on their hands. Especially considering many of the newer sub-divisions are knowingly built on swampy land. I understand that for the neighbors of Mr. K the exterior of his home has become a safety issue as well as a visual nuisance, However as residents, we should be supporting other residents and their attempts (however strange) at making Palatine a better place for everyone to live. I'm sure you too, would be upset if your home was flooding and the village was unresponsive, because around here it's not only one house that floods, we are all at risk.
Kate April 12, 2012 at 02:55 PM
Not every family in town has the money to waterproof their homes. When homes flood, for families that already have very little the loss is even more devistating.
Kate April 12, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Couldn't agree more. We should all be more compassionate towards one another.
Jim Advance April 12, 2012 at 03:10 PM
Easy for you to be compassionate because you don't live next door to this eyesore. Kostka has made a conscience decision to keep his property looking like this as a protest. I know someone who has been in that house and he said the inside doesn't show any signs of water damage. My house has flooded and I spent my money to fix the problems. If you are so compassinate then you should also be sensitive to the neighboror who have to look at this mess every day. What if you lived next door and had your house on the market to sell. Do you think you woud get top dollar because Mr. K is such a considerate neighbor? He has always looking for the spotlight and loves getting his name in the press. I feel sorry for his wife who has to live with him.
Jim Advance April 12, 2012 at 03:16 PM
And also Kate I like the "people" who are running this town. I would live next door to most of them and break bread with them any day of the week. I think the Mayor and the Board do a good job of balancing out what is best for the village. I have lived in this town for over 40 years and appreciate the changes made in the last 15 years. You should have been here in the sixites when there was real flooding in Winston Park. Every raised ranch in the eastern part of town had some form of flooding in those below grade garages.
Chicago Food Guy May 18, 2012 at 05:49 AM
Jim, sounds like you are an old man. How many 100 year storms have you witnessed? The problem here is that the new "engineering" made the flooding worse than before. After 20 years of flooding, I would also get tired of spending money and cleaning up. The responsible party in this case is Palatine. Last I checked, PermaSeal doesn't flood-proof window wells or basement doors.
Jim Advance May 18, 2012 at 01:38 PM
Chicago Food Guy- No not old just a forty year resident of Palatine. I think I have enough experince with flooding. I manage 3 industrial buildings and 4 residential properties so I have some experience. I have talked to Permaseal and US Waterproofing as well as a half a dozen plumbers about flooding issues that my buildings have experienced. Maybe you are unware of that there are things that could be done to fix his problems. But the fact is there in no reason to let the outside of your property look like a dump. What's with the boarded up window? Guess the plywood keeps the flooding to a minimum. I have been told that the basement is spotless and clean without any signs of flooding problems. Warren has made the outside look like it does to create a problem for the Village and the neighborhood. Ask yourself this Chicago Food Guy- Would you want to live next door to Warren? I for one am glad he is not my neighbor. He made his house look like this for negative publicity. There are many people who have experienced flooding including myself and no one else in that neighborhood lets their house look like a war zone.

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