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Sympathizers to assist Kobylarczyk

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River Falls, 54022
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

A number of people have come forward with offers to help Robert Kobylarczyk fix up his house so that a court doesn't condemn it to be either sold or razed.

"We have had an overwhelming response from the community, including individuals and businesses," said Ryan Cari, the attorney representing Kobylarczyk in a lawsuit brought by the city of Hudson. "...One thing I can say for Bob is that he was very touched by the amount of help that has been offered by the community and the number of people that care about him. I've been amazed, too. There was a lot of response."

The response was to a story in the June 30 Star-Observer about the city's efforts to get Kobylarczyk to clean up and repair his house at 817 Third St.

The city declared the house unfit for human habitation and a public nuisance after Kobylarczyk allegedly failed to fix problems identified by city officials when they inspected the house on Nov. 23, 2004.

The lawsuit filed by the city on May 26 asks the court to condemn the property and order Kobylarczyk to vacate it if he doesn't comply with the city's order to repair and clean it. The city is asking that the house be either demolished or turned over to a receiver who will repair it if it isn't rehabilitated within 30 days of the court judgment.

Several readers came to Kobylarczyk's defense in letters to the editor and a number of people called the newspaper inquiring about how they could help him. The law firm of Heywood, Cari & Anderson also got calls from people volunteering assistance.

Ryan Cari said Monday that he was looking into setting up a fund that people could contribute to that would be used to purchase materials for Kobylarczyk's house. He was planning to meet that evening with other people interested in helping Kobylarczyk.

Cari said Kobylarczyk is willing to do what is necessary to keep his house from being condemned.

"We've already had a group of people spend a considerable amount of time helping him clean up. So he is receptive to help," Cari said. "It took a bit of convincing, but he's definitely come around to accepting the help."

Tim Bain, owner of Solid T Roofing, Siding and Remodeling, has volunteered to oversee the repairs.

Bain, who lives a few blocks away from Kobylarczyk, said the Hudson Menards store has offered to provide the shingles at a nominal price. He said he also had talked to a heating company that has offered to provide a heating system for the house and a plumber willing to donate his time to reconnect and repair the plumbing.

Persons wanting to volunteer to work on the house should call him at his home (715-377-1583), Bain said.

He said two rock bands have offered to hold a benefit event to raise money for the repairs.

Another contractor also called the Star-Observer last week asking who to contact to volunteer his services.

Not everyone is sympathetic of Kobylarczyk, however. The Star-Observer also received a letter to the editor from a city resident who said Kobylarczyk hasn't been a good neighbor. People wouldn't be as sympathetic if Kobylarczyk lived next to them, said the writer (who doesn't live in Kobylarczyk's neighborhood).

The Star-Observer chose not to publish the letter because of the personal nature of some of the allegations it contains.

City Attorney Catherine Munkittrick said the city filed suit as a last resort in its attempt to get Kobylarczyk to repair and clean up his property. She said the city has issued numerous citations over the years, but the property continued to deteriorate. "There are just many conditions that violate the housing code and really make the building a hazard and unfit for human habitation," she said.

The alleged unsanitary conditions aren't a problem for just Kobylarczyk, but also for his neighbors, Munkittrick added.

According to the lawsuit complaint, the house lacked a "reasonably weather-tight" roof and foundation, as well as a properly installed and maintained heating system and plumbing fixtures.

The water service was turned off in violation of City Code, the complaint alleges, and there were accumulated items inside the house blocking exits and creating a fire hazard.

Last February, the city ordered Kobylarczyk to remove rubbish from outside the house that wasn't placed in garbage containers. It also asked him to remove "unsightly" junk and old machinery said to have a negative impact upon the value of neighboring properties.

In a reply to the complaint filed with the court July 1, Cari denies that it accurately describes Kobylarczyk's property. The reply also denies that the house is a public nuisance or unfit to live in.

Cari asks the court to give Kobylarczyk "reasonable time" to make the repairs to the home needed to satisfy the city's order.

Munkittrick said she was expecting a scheduling conference to be held soon, at which a court commissioner would set some deadlines to keep the case moving forward.

Randy Hanson can be reached at rhanson@rivertowns.net

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