Since August, a six-story Pelham Parkway building has had its only elevator out-of-service due to a fire.
Tenants at 1540 Pelham Parkway South, a 60-unit building near Eastchester Road, have had to climb the stairs since a fire in the elevator control panel o left it unusable, said the president of the building’s newly formed tenants association ,Rafael Rodriguez.
The tenants reached out to Councilman Jimmy Vacca after first calling 311 to little avail, Rodriguez said. Vacca was able to expedite the repairs to the elevator, and get approval from the Department of Buildings for it to come back to operation as soon as possible, which happened on Thursday, December 8, Rodriguez stated.
“I am relieved that my wife and I can go downstairs with the baby and not have to carry things down the stairs,” Rodriguez said. “I was upset and disappointed that this is the route we have had to take to get the services that we pay for.”
He is glad the “nightmare” is over, Rodriguez said. Rodriguez lives on the fifth floor and has lived in the building for 18 years, he said.
The slow elevator is the longest he has ever seen in his district, Vacca said.
“The landlord was given every opportunity, and the tenants had been patient,” Vacca stated. “Finally, I went to the Buildings Department and said that our patience had run out.”
A ten -ay notice was posted by the DOB, and repair began right away on the elevator, with a crew working through the whole weekend, Vacca said.
“There are a lot of elderly people with walkers in the building, and I cannot remember a situation like this in my district where an elevator had been out this long,” Vacca said.
Vacca is proposing legislation in the the City Council that would give the Department of Housing Development and Preservation the legal right to fix a broken elevator and then bill the landlord in an emergency situation, Vacca said.
“I am modeling it on a current program,” Vacca said. “If you live in a multi-family building and have a constant water leak or mold, HPD can make the repairs. Right now, the city does not have the legal right to go into a building and fix an elevator.”
Landlord Bernard Putter, the longtime owner of 1540 Pelham Parkway South, said that the delay was unfortunate, but was necessitated by city regulations which requires a complete upgrade of an elevator after a fire so that it confirms with all city regulations, including those for the handicapped.
There was a delay in the Buildings Department approving permits to fix the elevator, upgrades must include handicapped wheelchair access, digital lights for the hearing impaired, and sound and braille for the visually impaired, Putter said.
“This is how long it takes, and it is unfortunate,” Putter said, adding that he lives in another building he owns about eight blocks from 1540 Pelham Parkway South and that it took almost as long to fix the elevator in that building about two years ago.
Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393