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COUNCIL TARGETS SLOW PACE OF REPAIRS AT INN

The Sloan Village Board Tuesday agreed to allow the owner of the Halstead Inn to continue renovation work on his property through September, despite complaints from some Halstead Avenue residents that the repairs were taking too long.

Ron Kazmierczak, owner of the property, assured the board during a public hearing that the siding, roofing and fencing work would be completed in September.

"We're working on it every day," said Kazmierczak, who estimated that 95 percent of the repair work had been completed. He said financial constraints prohibit him from hiring professionals to complete the job.

The inn's roof collapsed in April and the Village Board shut down the business for two days in May while a renovation timetable was agreed to by the board and the owner.

Since then, some Halstead Avenue residents complained to village officials that the property remained an eyesore as renovation work dragged on for more than four months. The complaints prompted the scheduling of Tuesday's public hearing.

Tom Nowicki of 27 Halstead Ave. said the damaged structure leaves a "debris field" in his yard after windy days. He added that the structure was infested with squirrels, woodchucks and other small animals.

"I've ordered my daughters not to play in our own yard," he said. "Walk into my yard. See what I see everyday. The only solution is to have the owner bring this building up to code."

Pat McCarthy, also of Halstead Avenue, expressed similar sentiments. A Gates Street resident said the building is a hazard that is "no longer salvageable".

Mayor Kenneth Pokorski said Kazmierczak is making progress, having removed more than three Dumpsters of debris. To condemn the structure, the mayor said, could cost the village $15,000 in demolition costs. He asked Nowicki whether the village taxpayers would be willing to pay the $15,000.

Nowicki replied that if the taxpayers could pay for additional tax exemptions for veterans in the village, they could pay for this expenditure.

Pokorski, who supported the exemptions and is a veteran, called the comment "inappropriate."

"This is pretty inept," Nowicki said as he walked out of the hearing.

Trustee Stan Sikora suggested the board adopt a local law requiring a specific timetable for repair work.

"I'm not saying he's not doing his job," said the trustee. "He's not doing it fast enough." The board took no action of Sikora's proposal.

The mayor said any small animals coming onto Halstead Avenue are most likely coming from 12 acres of abandoned railroad property south of Halstead Avenue. None is being harbored at the Halstead Inn, he said.

"We have moved ahead with a plan," Pokorski said. "If he stops working, we shut him down. This action is fair to the resident and to the village."

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