Having reached no agreement regarding noise complaints, Hit It! Fitness owner Constance Contursi has broken her lease on the property out of which she operates her athletic studio.
“I have been fully pushed out,” Contursi told Wednesday Journal.
The studio’s new location will be in Elmwood Park. The move, Contursi said, will cost her $25,000 at least.
The years-long noise dispute involved Contursi and Mary Ann and Joseph Kozlowski, who live in the home adjacent to the studio, which is located at 811 South Blvd. Police reports show that the Kozlowskis had called the police on the studio on several different occasions. Studio members have also filed police reports against the couple for harassment and for filming them during classes, some of which are attended by children.
Contursi said she had offered complimentary classes and free dinners, as well as given gifts to make peace with the neighbors in the past but to no avail. The Kozlowskis, who could not be reached for comment, were also uninterested in seeking mediation through the village of Oak Park.
The dispute culminated in a Dec. 1 hearing before Village Manager Cara Pavlicek, where Contursi was served a citation for violating the noise ordinance and a three-day suspension of her business license.
The citation stipulated that Contursi must adjust the noise levels and was to meet with Tammie Grossman, the village of Oak Park’s development customer services director, and Oak Park Police Chief LaDon Reynolds to review plans for compliance.
“We actually were trying to work out an arrangement where the parties could get along,” Grossman told Wednesday Journal, adding that the neighbors were elderly.
During the meeting between Contursi, Reynolds and Grossman, all three agreed upon an app to measure the sound coming from the fitness studio, according to Grossman. Oak Park police monitored the noise levels.
“Basically, I’ve had two to three cops babysitting me, every time I teach every single night, every single weekend,” said Contursi.
Contursi has always maintained music played during her exercise classes, which were paused temporarily due to COVID-19 mitigations, were not in violation of the noise ordinance and no louder than the nearby Green Line CTA train.
She said she had called and emailed Grossman and Reynolds on multiple occasions to discuss compliance progress but got no response.
“I felt like they were intimidating me,” said Contursi.
After her reaching out one more time, according to Contursi, Grossman responded, informing her she had violated the noise ordinance.
“I had a conversation with her based on that order – she was louder than what the order permitted,” Grossman said.
Contursi said she believes the village of Oak Park came to that conclusion based on complaints from the neighbors. The neighbors, she believes, have a vendetta against her.
Commonly disputes between businesses and neighbors wrap up after village intervention, according to Grossman, with the business coming into compliance.
“In the end, the parties are able to get along and coexist peacefully,” said Grossman. “Unfortunately, that was not the situation in this case.”
Having begun her career in Oak Park, Contursi is saddened to have to leave the village and her clients, 32 of whom submitted public comments supporting Contursi during a Nov. 16 village board meeting.
“It’s so unfortunate,” Contursi said. “But maybe this will be better for me.”