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The Final Chapter From Sunset Village

As families leave the mobile park one by one due to unsanitary living conditions and sky-rocketing living costs, one resident shares the community's story of struggle.

Dear Editor,

This will be my final report from as we and many other residents are planning to discontinue paying our lot fee’s and mortgages and extending out the foreclosure and eviction processes through litigation for as long as possible so that we may save up enough to move.

It seems like a bad thing to do, but it’s no worse than what these lenders like MB Financial, Lincoln Financial and Village Officials and Legislators have done or allowed to happen to the residents here for a very long time.

It should give everyone in Glenview great pause to consider that despite notifying every congressman, senator, village official, regulative agency and anyone else about the abhorrent and dangerous conditions in our community that several years later and in some instances, decades later, things have not improved.

It’s even more disheartening that some of the officials contacted numerous times that have done absolutely nothing still bill themselves as advocates for working families? Senator Dick Durbin responds with form letters addressing causes and issues completely unrelated to the plight of the residents here.

Robert Dold had an intern call and pledge to do something, to date they’ve done nothing. Mark Kirk, where are you? Daniel Biss while extremely communicative and assuring wasn’t able to do anything. Governor Pat Quinn completely absent, Lisa Madigan, Anita Alverez, Toni Preckwinkle, the list goes on and on.

You assume because they are so far removed from their constituency that there would be a better response from local officials? Well, the response from Todd Hileman, and other village officials has been to tell us that they’re incapable of doing anything.

The first excuse was because the park is private property. The second excuse was because of the parks bankruptcy. That should scare the heck out of anyone in Glenview! Under those parameters it means a person could open a restaurant or a nursing home in Glenview (which would be private property) and/or file a bankruptcy petition which would exclude them from having to comply with health, fire or safety rules, sanitation, licenses or anything else meant to ensure the general public’s well-being.

Our community has The village and others have known this since before the park went into receivership. Our water is irradiated and was often times polluted. This has been the case since slumlord owned the park and the village was well aware of this as well as the lack of working street lights, raw sewage running down the streets and numerous other hazards. They made precursory and feeble attempts at litigation meant more for public relations than to actually resolve the issues or protect the residents.  

For the last year we have been blessed with the humanitarian stewardship of Steven Spinell/Kinzie Group. Perhaps the self-described Mahatma Gandhi of court appointed property managers?

I mean after all, having to drink irradiated water means we save money on light bulbs and have little need for streetlights? Having potholes so deep allows us to order authentic Chinese food by merely shouting down into the holes? I guess it’s all a matter of perception? Raw sewage running down the streets? Abundant mineral springs! Stray cats and dogs, skunks and raccoon infestations? Why that’s “nature at your back door!” Dead and dying trees waiting to fall on your house? Natural Forest Conservancy!

The sad truth of the matter is that it costs us nearly $2000 a month to live here. For many of us, that represents a large portion of our incomes. And besides raising our lot rents by nearly $300 after the bankruptcy, the ancillary costs of living here like buying bottled water and repairing tires have and continue to rise and price a lot of us right out of here every month.

If you ever wanted to see the effectiveness of the myriad of departments, groups, and bureaucracies your ever-increasing tax dollars pay for in Illinois, take a trip through Sunset Village.

I guess what we really need are more consumer protection departments and regulations (and of course, tax increases) to go along with the thousands we already have that don’t enforce anything? But that's up to you now. I am leaving Vice City and the best view of Sunset Village will be from my rearview mirror.

- Chris Iosello
Sunset Village Resident

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Lisa chesser July 06, 2012 at 10:22 PM
I was a resident and my brother still lives there. I am continually appalled by the state of the park. It used to be a nice place to live about 16 years ago.. But it's the slums of Glenview.. With the front facade of the park.. Driving past 5th street is a dangerous trip of its own kind. Shame on you Village of Glenview and the politics.. These are hard working people who scrape out a living so their children may go to a good school... shame on you Richard Klarchek... You have tanken advantage of these poeple long enough!!!
JOHN SMITH July 07, 2012 at 02:29 AM
i dont know why the village buys it. doesnt evanston have a "live evanston program?" they could fix it up and have qualified low income families in town. They are the working class of the town and maybe it would draw more business to.
chris July 07, 2012 at 02:09 PM
This is what the residents have been trying to do for two years. We had an advocacy group HODC and Interfaith Housing working with us to secure financing. Willow Creek Church was willing to buy the place and use the front half for a new building while fixing all the infrastructure and allowing several hundred families to own the remaining portion. Their offer was beyond generous. When you consider the villages investment in the now bankrupt Glen Town Center, The Dominicks site on Waukegan and Glenview, the one dollar deal for Kohl Children's Museum and the fast track approval for 134 high end Pulte townhome development on Naval Base land, and then see that they wouldn't even protect the zoning for us to remain a mobile home park, it is abundantly clear that the village would like to see us gone. If these conditions were present in The Glen or other affluent development, the village would have been all over it. But in this case, letting things become so untenable here will make people leave on their own and the village can say how sorry they are that they couldn't do anything and all the while they're probably aware of or negotiating with a high end developer for this parcel. The village and others could have stepped in and ended this misery for all these people and to say otherwise is patently false.
John July 07, 2012 at 04:53 PM
I agree with Chris, Glenview could buy the place and really do something to help the residents. But they would rather make bad investment after bad investment then shove the residents out as Chris has said. To bad one of the highest paid village managers in the state (Todd Hileman) can't earn his exorbitant salary by thinking out side the box and backing up the residents. But no he sits in his big house pretending that he can't do anything. Well maybe he can't, incompetence always finds a way to do nothing. I wonder if any of the Glenview Trustees are doing anything or can't they see the big picture, maybe it's time to get some new people in charge.
chris July 07, 2012 at 05:43 PM
We begged them to issue bonds to help us, for a zoning restriction to help us. The answer was no. Mr. Hileman elaborated by saying the village"never gets involved with private property." When asked if that applied to the net loss Dominicks purchase, we were told that was for "public safety" so they could control the use of that parcel at such a busy intersection. But there are hundreds of more peoples safety in jeopardy in Sunset Village every hour than pass through that "busy" intersection in a month. But when you make 300k a year I guess you tend to kowtow to the big money interests that keep you employed rather than your constituency?
chris July 07, 2012 at 09:44 PM
Unfortunately most of the residents here are elderly or otherwise unable to access the internet or we would have had a deluge of comments on this thread. There is an effort underway to deliver thousands of hard copies of our situation with contact information of elected officials door to door. Maybe if these leaders get some calls they'll be shaken out of their complacency or complicity?
JOHN SMITH July 07, 2012 at 10:19 PM
The village did do something about a property in the burr oak area. They had a company tear down a house which builder left just the frame. It was a eye sore. But did something. Why can't they help these people out. It be in glenview s best interest to help out the working class and elderly. Glenview is not a north shore town but want to be like one. The trustees all need to go. How bout all the money they wasted on garbage cans. Go look at public works yard. Thousands of cans just sitting there. What about when they contract the snow plowing out and heard the village had to redo the contractors section. They got money. But the big wigs get the savings.
chris July 07, 2012 at 10:47 PM
Mr. Smith, I wish you were in charge! The scandal at Sunset Village is so deep and intertwined it would take a forensic accountant to sort it out. Richard Klarchek decimated the lives of thousands of families in Illinois and other states he owned trailer parks. He was allowed to operate like this for years. Loyola University accepted 10 million dollars as a gift from Mr. Klarchek even though their board and president Dr. Garanzini were made aware of the terrible conditions and abuses by their benefactor. To date, they refuse to turn over one penny of that ten million to at least allow us to have clean drinking water. Loyola owns a ton of prime northshore real estate, tax free. Surely they could give back these ill gotten gains? Of course, you can draw your own conclusions, but ironically Lisa Madigans worthless attempts at litigation may have been more successful if her mother didn't sit on the board of Loyola with Richard Klarchek? We were told that $75,000 was just spent by the receiver or our pump would have been repossesed. Really? Under bankruptcy protection? Full face value? Funny the bankruptcy is what we were told precluded us from receiving our contracted lot rebates. It seems bankruptcy means all the fat cats get what they want at the expense of their victims.
C H July 08, 2012 at 07:57 PM
This is really a tremendous shame. Anyone who has ever had to deal with this Village knows full well what a ridiculously useless bunch they all are minus a select few. To Chris, have you ever attempted to bring this to the attention of a major news outlet, either print media or television? Patch is great, but it doesn't exactly get the message out to a big enough audience, the kind this story deserves. Your letters to the editor are very detail oriented in knowing the conditions of the park and the political malarkey that has been allowed to fester with regards to this issue. Embarrassing our local public officials on camera might make some headway, or at least make them aware people are watching how they're performing. I completely agree with John Smith, it's time for most of these officials to be shown the door. Let them go play lousy with some other towns money, or better yet attain real jobs where their performance would be critical to them holding onto it.
chris July 09, 2012 at 12:14 AM
Amen to all the above! I have sent this to every major news outlet at least a dozen times. I have contacted everyone short of President Obama. The problem is with most media, they tend to report after a tragedy rather than report a potential tragedy. But, stay tuned, I asked a very skilled consumer attorney to walk me through filing a TRILLION dollar lawsuit. I know it will go nowhere, but it should generate attention. I would ask everyone to write a cordial letter on behalf of us here. As you said; "If they know people are watching them, they might do the right thing."
Winnetka July 09, 2012 at 01:21 AM
If you give a mouse a cookie, they're gonna want a glass of milk. If you give them a glass of milk....The moral of the story is when people do not take personal responsibility for themselves and their community...and constantly rely on handouts,(funded by us "evil" taxpayers aka people who work) then that's all they'll know how to do. It is indentured servitude via the Federal Gov't and meted out by tax payer funded non-profiteers like IHNS. IHNS believes we should all be enslaved by their idea of "social justice". Who are they to decide how and where people should live?Worse yet..those of us who are subjected to this whole sale theft of wealth aka huge taxes perpetrated by every level of gov't , have NO SAY. Taxation w/out representation?I know I did not authorize my legislators to give my hard earned $ to the fastest growing industy in America: "fair housing".Sunset Village has become overrun with way too many former and current "residents" of the Cook County Corrections system. Let's not get into how many of them are "undocumented".There aren't enough taxpayers to fund all the handouts anymore. It's time for personal responsibilty to make a comeback and for our laws and constitutional sovereignty to be upheld.
Winnetka July 09, 2012 at 01:36 AM
Chris and John: Am I to understand that you both think people who earn a good living, have a house that they paid for are somehow bad for that? There was a time in this country where doing well was lauded and considered noble. People flock to the USA because of the freedom to attain unlimited success. It's a scary notion to think that there are people like you who believe anyone who appears to have a better lifestyle than you is bad or evil. Worse that they shouldn't be allowed. Please rethink your stance. We are a country of over 310 million people. The socialist, everyone is the same, federal gov't as sugar daddy, guaranteed outcomes, social justice fantasy hasn't panned out in small European countries. Ask yourselves, do you really think it would, here? Do you own a tv? Do you read the news? Most of Europe is in chaos under the crushing weight or unsustainable public sector pay policies. Please wake up.
chris July 09, 2012 at 02:14 AM
Dear Winnetka, I am sorry you mistook our wanting the village to enforce the law as wanting a handout. I can assure you, I want nothing free. I not only applaud those who are successful, I aspire to be like them and think they pay more than their fair share already. But, the law should apply equally. It doesn't make sense that the residents here should have to pay dividends on a poor investment by a bank or expect to drink undisclosed irradiated water so that the previous owner could easily afford to fuel his private helicopter. I can't speak to people here being either undocumented or previously incarcerated as neither situation applies to me. But if a municipality can't even enforce simple building and health codes, they certainly can't keep wealthy people safe from these "hordes" either. We would like to clean this place up for our sake and perhaps yours.
Saddened in Chicago July 09, 2012 at 02:35 PM
This is a devastating example of government neglect and abuse of its obligations to its citizens. My heart goes out to the residents. I am posting this story on FB and sending to everyone I know. I am so sorry Sunset Village for all of the failings of our goverment and community. "Winnetka" should become a little more educated on the residents of this community before making such sweeping opinions. Every citizen deserves what they pay a landlord to provide and for the government to uphold it's laws.
Al Bohannon July 09, 2012 at 10:59 PM
Living on 3rd street in the village. I am wondering why the receiver (Spinelli), since Klarchek went belly-up, he would choose to fill the potholes on paved streets with chunks of road gravel, with no binder to stop the gravel from coming out and spreading along the street. Needless to say, the pothole gravel along the street poses a significant safety risk. I have witnessed people (and children) falling on the stones. I personally have turned my ankle on one, and fell. I pulled up to my house on my motorcycle, put my foot down and slipped on a gravel piece, which caused me to drop my nearly 800 pound bike on it's side. I pulled the hamstring on my left leg and a muscle on the back of the leg (near my buttocks). I took it upon myself to sweep the rocks off to the side of the street to protect me and my neighbours. Thanks to Spinelli and Co. for taking such good care of the community! Al Bohannon and Alan Xenos, 313 3rd Street
chris July 10, 2012 at 11:15 AM
Despite huge increases in our lot rents and mortgages, we are still beset by the same problems we had years ago, in fact they've become worse with age. The abandoned houses are especially unsettling. One at 74 North Branch sat wide open and dark for two days last week. I am also tired of mowing the lawns at these abandoned houses that surround my place. But it's that or be engulfed by the jungles of Da Nangh. The streets in the back are so dark you need a sonar array to traverse them in a vehicle. I am sick of the noxious stench of sulphur billowing out of our fully antiquated sanitary system. I feel like I am on permanent assignment at a USGS volcanologist station. The roads, in fact the whole place looks like the aftermath of the Dresden bombing campaign. And then there's the often turbid, always radioactive water....
Bonnie July 10, 2012 at 04:27 PM
Embarrassed to be from Glenview: My heart aches for those in Sunset Village and I have posted this to facebook to help get the word out. Glenview and Winetka officials should be embarrassed with such obvious neglect. We as US citizens and the US government need to step up and help each other where we can; we need to find a way to work together. Sunset Village isn’t looking for milk and cookies from the rich, they are looking for justice and consumer protection! Chris – I admire your voice and hope we can find a way for you and those in Sunset Village to be heard!
boots July 10, 2012 at 07:27 PM
I bet the village would love to see that park fade into the Sunset, just so the land can be redeveloped into something that they hope will generate tax dollars. That's not to say Glenview is innovative in their business taxation plan (unless they want to attract large corporations - then that tax rate might be .000001 % over the next 50 years). It's that or over-sized stick houses the owners will take pride in calling their McMansion. Don't we all need another curb filled strip mall or goofy looking neighborhood filled with winners barbequing in their driveways?
chris July 10, 2012 at 08:47 PM
We really take pride in being part of Glenview. I am particularly happy that our children were able to attend GBS, do well and move on to college. Our homes are comparatively modest to be sure, but we keep our lawns trimmed and plant flowers. We work in various industries and volunteer for numerous causes just like our more affluent neighbors. None of us wants a handout, or to be pitied. We just want to be part of the community and raise our families. It's true that there are other uses for this property that may be more lucrative or prestigious but none would be more grateful. Please don't let the corporate interests push us out of our homes. We have abided by all our obligations and will be homeless and penniless if this place closes. We work hard and are willing to work harder still to make our homes secure. All we ask is a chance.
Mike Vilches July 11, 2012 at 03:05 PM
Dear Readers, I respectfully disagree with some of the statements I’ve read. I don’t believe the people at Sunset Village think rich people are “bad” in any way and we don’t want them to do more than they feel they can do but as Wilfred Grenfell once said: “Real joy comes not from ease or riches or from the praise of men, but from doing something worthwhile.” The hard working, tax paying people in Sunset Village (which include veterans, young families, seniors & retirees) only want to have clean drinking water, working street lights, pothole free streets and working fire hydrants. They don’t want a big bank to serve them with a 30 day notice of eviction on a rent to own home that they have faithfully paid rent on. While a rich cooperate “fat cat” like Richard Klarchek sells the notes on their homes to big banks, all the while collecting their mortgage payments without passing those payments back to the banks leaving the families high and dry. But Richard Klarchek is old news and all of his parks have gone into foreclosure. Some of those parks have been sold and people were forced to move out leaving their homes, their friends and their community. But no, the people at Sunset Village are not asking for a handout but they are asking for people to stop acting like they don’t exist. And they are asking for someone in government to truly figure out a way to help with the injustice of the situation. CONTINUED IN NEXT POST
Mike Vilches July 11, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Continued Most of the people in Sunset Village are part of the Sunset Village Residents’ Association < http://www.sunsetvillageglenview.com/> which mission statement may be "All residents working together to improve the overall living conditions in our community through organizing, legislating, and advocating for our rights." But printed on all of our Association brochures is the slogan: "Neighbors Helping Neighbors" This is something we believe in and is something we do every day in many ways both inside and outside the community. I would also like to say that some of the Board of Glenview has reached out to us and taken the time to meet and to talk with us and we deeply appreciate them taking that time (President Kerry Cummings, Trustee Scott Britton and Trustee Philip White) but more needs to be done. Just because the residents can’t afford a good attorney shouldn’t mean that they can’t expect the same respect or common decency and protection of the laws that more affluent sections of or community are allowed. CONTINUED IN NEXT POST
Mike Vilches July 11, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Now we (the Residents of Sunset Village) are at a point where we can take hold of our own destiny and make Sunset Village a truly wonderful place to live but still the note holder (Lincoln Financial Group) on the property won’t even talk to us. I’m not sure why this is but I hope that someone out there stands up and says “enough is enough” and gives us a shot at being the best we know we can be and to make Glenview proud to have us as part of its family. So if you want to help then let the people in charge know that you support us. Sincerely Mike Vilches President Sunset Village Residents’ Association http://www.sunsetvillageglenview.com
Mike Vilches July 11, 2012 at 03:10 PM
Cook County: Gregg Goslin Main Office: 118 N. Clark Street, Room 567 Chicago, IL 60602 Phone: (312) 603-4932 Fax: (312) 603-3686 District Office: 3801 W. Lake Ave Glenview, IL 60026 Phone: (847) 729-9300 Fax: (847) 729-2279 Email: commissioner.goslin@cookcountyil.gov Website: www.commissionergoslin.com State: Senator Jeff Schoenberg senator@jschoenberg.org District Office: 820 Davis Street Suite 102 Evanston, IL 60201 (847) 492-1200 (847) 492-1202 FAX Representative Daniel Biss RepBiss@gmail.com Skokie Office: 3706 Dempster Street Skokie, Illinois 60076 Phone: (847) 568-1250 Fax: (847) 568-1256 Federal: Senator Richard Durbin Chicago Office: 230 South Dearborn Street, Suite 3892 Chicago, Illinois 60604 Phone: (312) 353-4952 Fax: (312) 353-0150 Senator Mark Kirk Chicago Office: 230 South Dearborn, Suite 3900 Chicago, Illinois 60604 Phone: (312) 886-3506 Fax: (312) 886-2117 Representative Robert Dold Northbrook Office: 650 Dundee Road, Suite 380 Northbrook, Illinois 60062 Phone: (847) 940-0202 Fax: (847) 940-7143 Lisa Madigan through the States Atty. Website attorney_general@atg.state.il.us Anita Alverez Website statesattorney@cookcountyil.gov Andy Shaw Better Government Association - info@bettergov.org
Mike Vilches July 11, 2012 at 03:12 PM
Glenview: President Kerry Cummings - kcummings@glenview.il.us Trustees Scott R. Britton - sbritton@fordbritton.com Pat Cuisinier - pcuisinier@cfblaw.net Paul Detlefs - paulvillage@comcast.net Deborah Karton - debbyvillage@comcast.net Michael Jenny - mikevillage@comcast.net Philip O'C. White - powerock@aol.com
chris July 11, 2012 at 04:54 PM
We are particularly proud that we have people from all walks of life and all four corners of the earth living here side by side. This is the ideal community that everybody strives to achieve. We help each other and respect each other and enjoy the diversity. You can walk two blocks in any direction and experience the best of ten different cultures. It's the most extraordinary place I have ever lived and Glenview will be worse for the loss should we all be pushed out.
Mike Vilches July 18, 2012 at 02:11 PM
We at Sunset Village have some upsetting news. I have been told that a veteran and a longtime resident of Sunset Village (40+ years) is going to move out of his home. He has been trying to stay in Sunset Village but the exorbitant lot fees and bad water have taken its toll on him and he has to move to a retirement home where it’s going to be cheaper to live. This is a sad day for me personally as he is one of my neighbors and a good guy. My family and I have had him over for dinner, sat outside with him on warm spring days and listened to his various stories. I wish he could stay and continue to be part of this community, I know that his presence has had a positive influence on my family and neighbors. This is just another example of the wake of destruction caused by the poor management of the former owner and all of the continuing bureaucracy. Unlike his unwavering service to his country his country has surely failed him.
chris July 18, 2012 at 04:15 PM
That's absolutely disgusting! How many people have to have their lives destroyed and their finances decimated to assure Lincoln Financial and MB Financial make a profit from their poor business practices? How many more of slumlord Richard Klarcheks victims will fade into poverty because elected officials and regulatory agencies failed (deliberately) to act even though they were well aware of the ongoing abuses here? It's time these people were held to account for their malfeasance or worse. This is why a fine gentleman put his life on the line, serving his country? To be pushed out penniless and threadbare? There's a special corner of hell reserved for people like Richard Klarchek, Dennis Glass and Mitchell Feiger. And no ten million dollar gift to Loyola will absolve them of their sins!
Jody Duffin August 03, 2012 at 04:38 AM
Winnetka, You are either ignorant and misinformed or you just don't care to learn the truth! As a former resident, taxpaying citizen with a bachelor's degree, and a completely self-sufficient one with no government assistance, I think that it is horrible that you think that it is okay for people to endure hell for $1600 a month rent. I make too much money for any of your so-called handouts and have been paying taxes since I was old enough to work. We were all suckers for a supposed "beautiful place to live and raise children" only later to discover that Mr. Klarchek and family can live the high life by breaking the laws and the backs of law abiding citizens who are paying a pretty penny to live in what looks like Tijuana slums. I know that there are decent people who believe in justice and have a moral compass in this area and I am embarrassed to have you speak for all of "Winnetka" as I have met some nice people with a conscience here. I ask you to research how many laws were broken here and how many turned a blind eye to this situation. You are right, this IS America and we should be treated like humans and not like feces! Radium in the water, raw sewage in the streets, non-working fire hydrants, narrow streets that emergency vehicles cannot use to save peoples lives- and you want to discuss a mouse and cookie? Really? Our education system really has gone to crap if you are one of it's products. Do your homework before making stupid comments please!
chris August 23, 2012 at 12:45 PM
UPDATE AUGUST 21 In what was either a heartless business decision or a direct attempt at intimidation an auction company paraded around our park for five hours blaring a loudspeaker and leading dozens of bidders through the park with police escorts, selling homes for as little as $16,000 while holding mortgages on our homes for $120,000! I wonder what the reaction would be if this type of Pogrom was conducted in an affluent neighborhood? Seeing people ride around in a windowed "pope mobile" bidding on and adding to our fear and misery from air conditioned comfort? If it happened anywhere else, it would be a disturbance of the peace, but as it happens the police were here protecting the auctioneer and the vultures with more law enforcement presence in one day than we have seen here in three years.
chris December 13, 2012 at 07:33 PM
Unfortunately, the bank (Lincoln Financial) that holds the note on Sunset Village all but excluded the residents offer to purchase the park. A large mobile home operator has made the winning bid and the number of assets being ripped out of the park has increased at a phenomonal rate. So while they remove new housing stock, they are leaving behind old, dilapidated and unsecured mobile homes, nails, garbage, insulation and piles of lumber and debris in their place. For the remaining residents, it means more of the same neglect at higher prices. We fully expect the next operator to follow the same play book as most by bringing in cheap housing stock and offering "rent to own" opportunities to unscreened and unqualified buyers that will eventually lose those houses bringing huge turnover and (profits) to the operator while saddling the residents with more crime and neglect that comes with a transient community.

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