By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – Accusing 195 Main Street owners Melania and Nicolae Pervu of “gross negligence” and warning that they are “approaching criminal behavior,” the City of Oneonta will ask County Judge John Lambert to shut down the former Oneonta Hotel during a hearing on Tuesday, Feb. 5.
“The situation has now passed far beyond dirty rugs and stained ceiling tiles from a leaking roof,” wrote David Merzig, city attorney. “The Respondents are now demonstrating gross negligence and, in the opinion of the City, actually approaching criminal behavior and must be stopped immediately.”
Since the initial inspection on Tuesday, Jan. 15, which the building failed, Merzig noted, two “serious and life-threatening incidents” related to 195 Main St. were reported.
On Friday, Jan. 25, carbon monoxide detectors in 189 Main St. went off, forcing the Oneonta Fire Department to evacuate the building. According to the filings, code enforcement officer John Hester and two NYSEG employees discovered that the top of the boiler in the basement of 195 Main St. had been removed and that tape had been placed over an air inlet to allow the boiler to continue burning. When the tape was removed, the boiler stopped burning, but, Merzig noted, Mr. Pervu attempted to relight the boiler. NYSEG “red-tagged” the boiler and warned the Pervus not to relight it, pending inspection.
On Monday, Jan. 28, 189 Main St. was once again evacuated for carbon monoxide, with two people transported by ambulance to Fox Hospital for carbon monoxide poisoning. NYSEG discovered that the boiler had been reignited and cut a section of the piping that connected with the boiler.
“I’ve had heart palpitations, headaches, dizziness and confusion since last week, along with my co-workers,” 189 Main St. employee Tysha Hoose wrote in a statement to the City. ” I don’t know when you are going to actually condemn, for good, the 195 building. People’s health and lives are at stake.”
Hoose was sent to the ER with carbon monoxide poisoning on both Friday and Monday.
“This Court has given the Respondents every opportunity to correct the health and safety violations at this property as well as the structural deficiencies,” wrote Merzig. “This has not happened. These latest incidents merely confirm what the City has been repeating over and over, that the issues at this property are not simply cosmetic, but fundamental safety issues. Fatalities could have very easily occurred here.”
In the order, the City asks that the Pervus “…immediately vacate all remaining residents of the apartments located on the premises” and note that should they fail to do so, for the Court to allow the city to enforce the order “by means and in such manner as may be ordered by this court.”
Additionally, the City requested $25,000 in reimbursements for such actions and to pay all costs for all court proceedings.