By MARK SARDELLA
WAKEFIELD — Bugs, mice and mold in the apartments, plus dog feces in the stairwells and in the pool – those were just some of the complaints that tenants at Colonial Point Apartments at 95 Audubon Rd. talked about at times during a heated Board of Health meeting last night.
Regional property manager Fred Levitan of Carabetta Management Co. sat and listened to the litany of tenant’s grievances.
Health Director Ruth Clay opened the meeting in the packed Town Hall room last night by noting that the Health Department had received many calls lately regarding conditions at the Colonial Point Apartments. She pointed to a timeline of complaints received over the last six months that includes reports of heating issues, broken washing machines, water leaks, unsanitary trash room, insects in apartments and broken elevators.
Jennifer Keough said that in the three years that she’s been a Health Inspector in Wakefield she has fielded many calls from Colonial Point residents and that most have the same undertone: That building management company Carabetta ignores calls from tenants or that promises of action are not kept.
Keough said that she has talked to Levitan on a number of occasions but added that things seemed to have gotten worse in the last six months during which time calls have been coming in at a rate of two or three a week. According to Keough, those callers report that they never see anyone in the building’s office and no one from management responds to calls.
People call the Health Department, Keough said, because they are not getting answers. “The reason you’re here tonight,” Keough told Levitan, “is the underlying theme that they can’t get help.”
Levitan insisted that tenants were calling the Board of Health first and maintained that the board did not have a right to discuss non-health issues.
But Clay said that since Health Department staff time was being tied up fielding the numerous complaints, it was a Board of Health issue.
“You will have an opportunity to hear what we’re hearing,” Clay said, looking around the crowded room.
Tenant Daniel Gritti said that he was a disabled veteran and reported that sometimes the elevators are out of service for hours or more. “I can’t do stairs,” he said, adding that that parking lot was often poorly plowed in the winter and full of potholes. “If I fall, I’m paralyzed,” Gritti said. “That’s my health issue.”
Lisa Resendes said that she recently went to use the pool and found dog hair and feces in the pool. She said that she complained numerous times. “Nothing happened,” she said.
Nicole Welsh said that the emergency exits were not cleared of snow in the winter and would be a problem if the building needed to be evacuated.
Ben Lawless said that he had lived at Colonial Point for 11 years and said that the meeting was “taking on a certain déjà vu quality.” He reported both elevators being out for a period of time last summer.
Jack Reggio confirmed the elevator issue, claiming Carabetta only felt the need to fix the elevators when both of them were down at the same time. He added that shared washers and dryers on the floors were frequently broken and that carbon monoxide detector in his apartment was only replaced after multiple calls.
Len Snyder said that lights outside stairwells had been out for eight months, despite his having reported it numerous times.
Michelle Guido reported seeing “dog poop and pee” on the stairs when she and her children were forced to use them when the elevators were not working.
Amanda Barnes said that she had complained numerous times about mold in her apartment and water leaking from the ceiling in the master bedroom.
Another tenant complained of infestations of flies and ants in her apartment and the entire hallway. She said she got no response from management after calling week after week. She also reported bugs coming out of the trash chute.
Ann McAndrews said that she had had mites and mice in her apartment and complained of poor lighting outside the building.
Lilian Raffael also said that it was too dark outside the building at night.
Another tenant reported that faulty locks and poor security had resulted in non-residents coming in and partying in the common rooms on the first floor.
Health Director Clay said that as a result of recent reports, the pool would be ordered closed and a hearing would be scheduled for Jan. 21, 2015 on the possible revocation of the building’s pool license. In the meantime, she said, the pool would not be allowed to re-open until it passes a re-inspection by Keough.
Clay told the tenants that they should call management or leave a note in the building manager’s office with any continuing or new problems. If they did not get fixed or they got no response, she told tenants to call the Health Department. She acknowledged that it was not a quick process.
“But we will continue until it’s fixed even if it means going to court,” Clay said.