To the Editor:
We moved our family to St. Charles when I was 45 years old in 1985. While driving around the city that first year, I noticed a home on Prairie Avenue resembling a very large half-finished bomb shelter. We felt certain a class city like St. Charles would not allow this blight to exist in that condition for long.
However, I am now 72, and all of this time that house has continued to exist in ever-changing degrees of ugliness and code violation. In fact, records indicate the owner, Clifford McIlvaine, began this "renovation" about 1975, exhibiting behavior that – in my opinion – is an arrogant defiance of city regulations and all of its citizens, and it has now gone on for 37 years!
McIlvaine's stonewalling of the city has now spanned the terms of three mayors – Fred Norris, Mayor Klinkhamer and Mayor DeWitte. It is a disgrace the administrations of Norris and Klinkhamer allowed this travesty to continue to exist, and I find indefensible Klinkhamer's excuse that she could do nothing because he had an open-ended permit. Where there is a will there is a way, especially in politics. Thank you Mayor DeWitte for finally seeing the light and bringing appropriate action to end this charade and make McIlvaine conform to the same standards of the construction code that all of the rest of the citizens have to follow.
A recent letter published in the Kane County Chronicle stated that McIlvaine’s cistern of collected rainwater for his personal use is likely not a threat to the city water supply. (I do not think any of us are qualified to make that judgment.) Regardless, if it is piped in a way that it has a pathway into the water supply, then any responsible homeowner with respect for his neighbors should want to assure that will never occur. In this regard, there is a very simple code-approved means to assure that potentially contaminated water will not enter the public water supply, and it is called a “backflow preventer." Any competent plumber can install one and at minimal cost. If the crux of the problem is McIlvaine's refusal to install such a valve, it is the absolute responsibility of St. Charles to impose that requirement on him. McIlvaine is no one special.
Speaking as one old man to another, this is my advice – grow-up Mr. McIlvaine, and act responsibly.