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DeKalb shuts down Travel Inn

City inspections found multiple, serious problems

Published: Friday, May 23, 2014 11:37 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, May 23, 2014 11:53 p.m. CDT
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(Katie Dahlstrom - kdahlstrom@shawmedia.com)
The Travel Inn, a 120-room hotel at 1116 W. Lincoln Highway in DeKalb, was directed Friday to close by 5 p.m. today by order of an administrative hearing officer. City inspections of the hotel found conditions city officials described as dangerous and unsanitary.

DeKALB – The Travel Inn in DeKalb will shut down by 5 p.m. today after several city inspections uncovered unhygienic and dangerous conditions, City Attorney Dean Frieders said.

Administrative Hearing Officer John Grotto issued an administrative order Friday ordering the 120-room hotel at 1116 W. Lincoln Highway to close indefinitely based on the findings from a city investigation that spanned several months. Another hearing on the matter is set for June 18.

"The hearing officer finds an urgent, substantial and unjustified threat to public safety presented by the continuing operation of the hotel, and finds that the offenses illustrated to exist are serious in nature," the written order states.

The city first inspected the hotel Oct. 9, after DeKalb aldermen approved a hotel inspection ordinance. Since Oct. 9, the city has conducted several inspections, culminating in one April 7 that prompted the city to refer the matter to an administrative hearing because the hotel did not meet minimum standards set by the city, Frieders said.

“The mattresses, linens and bedding would not meet anyone's standards for a place with rooms for rent,” Frieders said. “There were a number of rooms with bodily fluids. And numerous bodily fluids.”

Frieders said the city also found holes in the drywall above showers, black mold in room refrigerators, filthy carpets, toilets that were not properly secured to the floor and a litany of other problems. Inspectors also were concerned about the severe deterioration of the second-floor balcony and railing.

Unrelated to the city inspections, DeKalb police found and removed a methamphetamine lab in a room there Oct. 27, initially arresting three people for allegedly cooking methamphetamine at the hotel. About a dozen other people later were accused of participating in that methamphetamine conspiracy.

An employee at the hotel's front desk Friday afternoon declined to comment. Frieders said the owners had expressed their intent to comply with the order.

The hotel will remain closed until the owners remedy the health and safety concerns noted by the city, Frieders said. City officials did not ask for fines to be issued.

Inspections were performed by off-duty firefighters as part of the hotel inspection ordinance the City Council approved in September.

As officials review staffing and processes in the building department, aldermen will consider suspending the hotel inspection process, although Frieders said the city would be able to perform hotel inspections if officials saw an imminent need.

“There are no other hotels near the condition the Travel Inn is in,” Frieders said.

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