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By Devin Rose
Neighbors of a southwest Oak Park woman have had enough of the noise, crowds of teenagers and barking dogs that have resulted in dozens of police calls to the house in the last couple of years.
But police officers are hoping several neighborhood meetings and the involvement of social service agencies will help the woman's family and others who live in the 500 block of South Kenilworth Avenue.
According to police records, there were 41 calls to the house from December 2009 to this past December, with more than half of the incidents occurring in August and September of 2011. Many calls came from residents of the house for domestic incidents, like physical and verbal arguments, involving other residents or visitors. Neighbors have called police about suspicious cars on the street, dogs barking and people shouting inside and outside the house.
Despite suspicions of drug activity, two calls last year led to investigations that turned up no evidence.
During an interview at the house this week, the homeowner, Karen Nagel, 66, acknowledged she's had problems with her dogs, a boxer mix named Roscoe and a German shepherd named Bear. The dogs have bitten other dogs and people more than once, said Mike Charley, environmental health supervisor for the village.
In November, a vicious dog hearing was held after Nagel's dogs attacked another dog, and the dogs were impounded at the Animal Care League. To get the dogs back, Nagel reimbursed the owner of the attacked dog, installed a 6-foot solid fence in her backyard and bought a vicious dog sign for the yard's entrance, Charley said.
She also had to pay impoundment costs, provide muzzles for the dogs and walk them every day while they were impounded. Nagel said costs added to up more than $3,000 and she had to sell her car to pay.
"I'm sorry it had to happen," Nagel said while she petted 4-year-old Bear.
Community policing Sgt. Dave Jacobson said neighborhood meetings were held in July and October, and another is scheduled for the coming weeks.
Neighbors agree police have been responsive but they say the incidents haven't stopped.
"We're not asking her to move; we just need absolute relief," said one man, who did not want to be named for fear of retaliation.
Another neighbor said he's "worried for my children and my family's safety," adding that the house is usually loud because of all the people staying there who don't live there.
Nagel attributed the consistent flow of teenagers to her "very popular" 17-year-old granddaughter but said she's been trying to limit the house's visitors to two at a time. Nagel and her granddaughter live at the house, along with the girl's mother, Nagel's 38-year-old daughter, Nagel said.
Resident Beat Officer Paul Razzino and Jacobson said the family has shown a willingness to work with them, and they will continue to meet with social service agencies. Nagel said she would welcome the help.
"We want to help her," Jacobson said. "We want to be a part of the solution."