City buys property after owners claim construction damaged homes

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — Brandi Tolley’s neighbor sold her house on South Sixth St. in 2017 to Springfield to make room for the city’s massive rail relocation project, but Tolley didn’t.

Her house fell just feet outside of the boundary lines, keeping the city from using federal money to buy anything except for half of her backyard, and once they started to tear down her neighbors house, the problems began.

“When they started to tear that down, within days we noticed cracking in our plaster the windows were starting to break they were just working so close to our home,” Tolley said.

The damage to Tolley’s home was extensive. Walls on the outside were warped, and cracks were forming around windows and underneath pipes. None of the damage was present before the construction. Tolley used an appraisal that she got after the 2006 tornado that came through Springfield to prove it.

The damage was enough to have a structural engineer tell her she should move out by the start of the new year, and she wasn’t the only one who was suffering. By then her and her neighbor Neil Davis already had a solution in mind: Make the city buy their properties

Three years later, the city finally gave in and did it.

“I’m blessed that the city is doing what they’re doing, you know, I think it’s they’re making it right,” Davis said.

Through this three-year battle with city council, Tolley, an army veteran and mother of four, was also fighting breast cancer. But the damage to her house, and the safety of her children inside, stayed at the front of her mind.

“Just that it brings a whole new level to the amount of stress as well. The parent you’re dealing with, because you want to keep your kids safe.”

Both Davis and Tolley don’t feel like its over quite yet. Both won’t be satisfied until they actually see the check from the city, and see their neighbors get attention too.

“It’s not over for me yet you know, I mean, it’s still going on and even when they buy my house or and we move on brand new house move out,” Davis said. “There’s like you said there’s other people still gonna be left they’re fighting their battles, and I just hope you know, they get taken care of.”

The council paid Tolley 100 thousand dollars for her property and paid Davis 80 thousand dollars for his. Both prices were determined from appraisals before the construction began in the area.

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