URBANA – President of Urbana Parks District Board of Commissioners, Michael W. Walker filed a lawsuit on August 24, 2022 against his neighbor, Christopher Hansen, seeking compensatory and punitive damages for “deliberate and malicious trespass” onto his rental property. Walker’s wife, C.K (Tina) Gunsalus, Director of the National Center for Professional and Research Ethics (NCPRE) is also named as a Plaintiff.
Walker and Gunsalus are suing Hansen for trespass of a strip of land six feet wide which Hansen has been using and maintaining for the past sixteen years. The same strip of land was maintained by his predecessors since the 1970s. The land is immediately adjacent to the foundation of Hansen’s home. Half of Hansen’s brick patio, half of his parking space, and most of his yard is situated on this six-foot strip of land.
Walker and Gunsalus are demanding damages for the expenses related to removal of the crushed gravel parking space, removal of the brick patio, repair and resodding of the area, and damage to a signpost.
According to Hansen, the demands for damages came as a surprise as Michael Walker and Tina Gunsalus had given him written permission to keep the brick patio and parking space intact. There is also an ongoing dispute of who owns the strip of land. Walker and Gunsalus never asked Hansen to remove the patio or gravel prior to filing their lawsuit.
Walker and Gunsalus also claim that Hansen parked his garden tractor in such a way that it extended partially over the property line to “interfere with their use and enjoyment of the six-foot strip”.
Walker and Gunsalus purchased the property adjacent to Hansen’s property in 2019 and demolished a small house on the land. Since the house was unoccupied, Hansen had been, among other things, fixing and clearing the gutters, removing dead animals, and maintaining the yard since 2006. On the other side of the land is one of Walker and Gunsalus’ rental properties.
When asked what they intended to do with the land, Tina Gunsalus told the West Urbana Neighborhood Association (WUNA) mailing list that they planned to seed the lot and plant some trees. “Our main goal is to try to improve our chunk of the neighborhood,” said Gunsalus. However, according to Hansen, when he offered to buy the contested six-foot strip of land, Walker and Gunsalus declined, saying that they wanted to build as large a structure as possible on the land.
Michael Walker and Tina Gunsalus have a boisterous presence in the local political scene, holding close political ties with City officials and entrenched politicians in the area. In 2020, they ran their neighbor Erik Sacks as a candidate for Ward 2 Council Member during the Urbana 2021 elections. In 2020-2021, they supported Sacks in a smear campaign that proceeded to call Hansen, founder of local government watchdog news site Check CU and several other newcomer political candidates extremist terrorists (article here).
The full version of the lawsuit filed by Walker and Gunsalus can be viewed here.