It’s been a long hot and frustrating summer for the 50 families living in a Pelham Bay building.
With the thermometer hitting near-record breaking temperatures, the residents of 1650 Hutchinson River Parkway have had to endure a non-working elevator for the past two months.
The situation is not new for this six-story building and continues a trend of elevator issues that have plaqued the tenants for years.
The building’s lone elevator has been experiencing problems for easily over a decade, according to the building’s residents.
To make matters worse, residents were told by the landlord that it won’t be working again until the middle of September.
“This has been a consistent problem for at least ten years,” said resident Ann Colucci, who has lived in the building for 37 years. “Sometimes the elevator is out for a day, sometimes a week and now its not working at all. This has left many residents feeling helpless and making us wonder what we can do about it.”
This scenario has been especially difficult for Mel Fishman, who has lived in the building with his wife, Linda, for almost 20 years.
On June 19, Mel returned from the hospital after undergoing open heart and triple bi-pass surgery as well as a heart valve replacement.
When he arrived home, he was approached by an elevator repair service employee who told him there was an elevator problem.
Mel had to endure a five-hour wait before the elevator was ready to manually take him to his fifth floor apartment.
“That situation was a true horror,” said Mel’s wife, Linda. “My husband needs to see his doctor, cardiologist and heart surgeon, and he can’t leave the apartment unless the elevator is working again. In reality, the landlord needs to stop repairing the elevator and replace it with a new elevator altogether.”
“We have 80-year old residents and parents carrying strollers in this building – how are they supposed to get up and down the stairs safely?”
“Although the elevator has had a chronic break down history over the last 10-12 years, this particular situation is the worst that it has ever been since I’ve lived here,” said Mel
“(The landlord) says that the elevator won’t be fixed until mid-September, but after the elevator is repaired, it has to be inspected, which could take at least two to three more weeks, so (residents) will not see a working elevator until the end of September at the earliest. After all these issues, how does the landlord not understand that we need a new elevator?” he added.
Both Mel and Linda filed multiple complaints with 311 and the Department of Buildings throughout the summer but have not yet been responded to.
According to the DOB website, this building has received over a dozen elevator violations since 2002.
“There are residents in this building suffering without a working elevator while the landlord and superintendent are on vacation – they could care less,” Mel added.
According to residents, landlord Amanda Jankovic of Rok Realty Corp has hired at least six different repair companies in the last decade.
Residents believe she switches repair firms when she is told that she needs to replace the entire elevator – which she is not wiiling to do.
She then proceeds to hire a new elevator company altogether, someone that will comply to her wishes.
The elevator was previously out of order for nearly a month, along with the gas service, in 2012.
During the past year, residents claim the elevator has been out at least one day per week.
Senator Jeff Klein has been working with DOB to ensure timely completion of repairs, while also working with the Division of Housing & Community Renewal to receive rent reductions for tenants who have lacked elevator service in the past months.
Councilman James Vacca is also involved and currently has legislation pending that would make the landlord economically responsible for the installation of new elevators as well as entitle residents to rent reductions.
“A situation that has senior citizens and disabled individuals climbing steps with no option for an elevator is absolutely unacceptable,” Vacca said.
Jankovic could not be reached for comment.