By Alex Haglund
A group of concerned citizens asking the city to do something about a vacant property located at 376 N. Kaskaskia came to the city council meeting held on Thursday, July 21, and requested that the building be condemned.
Cathy Dinkelman spoke on behalf of the citizens present, and said that the residence in question, owned by Tom Miller, dragged down the rest of the neighborhood.
“If any of us were to put our houses up for sale,” Dinkelman said, “when they saw that on the corner, our chances of getting what we want are gone.”
“I can guarantee that where all of you live,” Dinkelman said to the council, “that house would not be a problem.”
Problems associated with the property, according to Dinkelman, include health hazards like raw sewage in the basement, vagrants living in it, kids coming in and out of the house regularly to smoke, “we all fear that some day someone is going to catch that house on fire.” She went on saying that she and other neighbors had seen drugs sold out of the house in the past, as well as past instances of prostitution.
“It’s kind of scary when you see the cops come there and take someone,” said Sandy Crask, who was also a concerned neighbor of the residence.
Mayor Raymond Kolweier asked Police Chief Brian Fletcher about the reports of police action there.
“Used to,” Fletcher said. Both he and the citizens present seemed to indicate that the worst examples of criminal activity to take place there were in the past.
“I spoke to the owner about this about two months ago. He told me that he was planning to spend money on that and fix it up,” said Kolweier.
“If the person that owns this property is willing to fix it up to be livable, we can’t really deny him of that,” Kolweier said, but did concede that renovations were in order. “It certainly needs it. Can’t deny that.”
Joe Crask, also present at the meeting, said that he had spoken with Feliz Contreras, who he said did repair work on homes owned by Miller. Crask said that Contreras had told him that he was injured and would be unable to complete the house he was currently working on and would not be able to get to the house at 376 N. Kaskaskia, which would have been next.
“I’ll get back in touch with the owner,” Kolweier said, “maybe he’s changed his mind.”
The citizens present were encouraged by Kolweier saying that he was going to contact the owner, but told him that they would return in “two or three months” to check on progress being made.