DeKalb Center makes improvements

By Michelle Harris

The DeKalb Center owners have only one of 108 code violations to correct before meeting requirements of the Aug. 8, 1989 inspection by the Department of Building and Community Services.

DeKalb Center owners, Joseph and Tony Navilio, were issued a city mandate in October to correct the 108 code violations or the city would hire a private contractor to make the corrections.

DeKalb Code Enforcement Officer Rick Monas said,”You would be surprised if you saw it. The owners have made a world of improvement.”

The building’s one remaining fault is a storm drainage system illegally connected to the city’s sanitary sewer, DeKalb City Attorney Ron Matekaitis said.

The center’s storm drainage system, similar to the sump pump in a house, will be disconnected from the city’s sanitary sewer in August at the owner’s expense. This will be done as the state improves West Lincoln Highway, Matekaitis said.

“Hooking up a storm drainage system to the city’s sanitary sewer has never been within DeKalb city codes. The system can’t handle that,” he said.

DeKalb codes dictate storm drainage should run off either onto land or into a storm sewer, but the violation was never noticed in past inspections of the building, Monas said.

Four fines were issued Sept. 15, 1989, he said. Two of these were for fire safety violations and two were for poor yard conditions.

City building codes state building owners can be fined $25 per violation. The judge did not impose further fines on the owners because of the rapid repairs, Matekaitis said.

Last semester the city of DeKalb filed a lawsuit against the DeKalb Center for its code violations. NIU Students’ Legal Assistance attorneys Don Henderson and Lynn Richards intervened on behalf of the NIU students who make up about one-third of the Center’s 150 residents, center manager Beth Elkins said.

Students’ Legal Assistance, the city attorney and Joseph Navilio’s attorney decided in a pretrial conference that student residents should be awarded the equivalent of one month’s rent to compensate for substandard living conditions.

The DeKalb Center charges $350 for one-bedroom apartments and $450 for two-bedroom units. Compensation is being spread over the remaining months of students’ leases in the form of a rent reduction.

Elkins, 21, was hired as a secretary at the center while visiting in September. She moved her belongings within days from Morristown, Tenn.

She said she reported for work Monday, Oct. 2, and was made on-site manager because the former managers were fired by the owners for not maintaining the building.