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Elevator in senior housing complex could take 8 weeks to fix

Lydia Rodriguez, with her daughter Nancy Geyer on

Lydia Rodriguez, with her daughter Nancy Geyer on Tuesday, June 27, 2017, has barely left her fifth-floor apartment recently. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A broken elevator in a Freeport senior housing complex could take eight more weeks to fix, and building management is urging residents to consider making other living arrangements until repairs are completed.

The only elevator in the Peternana Terrace apartment building began experiencing mechanical problems on June 21, forcing some seniors living in the five-story building to take the stairs or remain in their apartments, according to residents.

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rockville Centre owns and runs the affordable senior housing facility, which was subsidized by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Mechanics will be working six days a week, 12 hours per day, on the repairs, The Stanan Group of Real Estate Related Companies — a Hempstead-based real estate organization that manages Peternana Terrace — said in a statement Wednesday.

Catholic Charities spokesman Umberto Mignardi said this is “the most expedited plan we could extract from the elevator repair companies.”

“Even under those circumstances — 6 days a week 12 hours a day — we’re still looking at 8 weeks,” Mignardi said, adding that repair parts have been ordered from China and Germany.

The source of the problem is the elevator jack, a lifting mechanism that comprises several smaller belts and systems, Mignardi said, and replacing it completely is “a significant undertaking.”

If residents have trouble using the stairs and cannot stay with family or friends during repairs, Catholic Charities will find other accommodations — such as a local hotel room — at no charge, Mignardi said.

For residents who choose to stay, a medical transport vehicle with two technicians will be available five days a week to take them to doctor’s appointments, Mignardi said. In addition to the building’s regular social services coordinator — who works Monday through Friday — an aide will also visit on the weekends and a security guard will staff the building 24/7 during repairs.

“We don’t want [residents] to feel trapped,” he said. “It’s just this unfortunate reality that this is what it’s going to take.”

Nancy Geyer said her mother, Lydia Rodriguez, 87, has only left her fifth-floor apartment once since the outage began last month, when two building employees helped her use the stairs to go to a doctor’s appointment.

Geyer said she has been living in a shelter, so her mother cannot stay with her, and their only other family member in the area has a very small apartment.

With the outage potentially lasing two more months, Geyer, 55, said she will speak with her mother about staying in a hotel, but predicted Rodriguez will not want to leave her apartment.

“I can’t believe it’s eight weeks,” Geyer said. “It’s so frustrating. . . . I’m like out of words.”

Cynthia Stuart “was in tears” when she learned the repair would take eight weeks, she said.

Her mother, Betty DuBois, lives on the building’s third floor, but has been staying with Stuart during the elevator outage. DuBois is 76 and uses a walker.

Residents began to protest outside the building shortly after they received the update on the timeline of the repair work, Stuart said.

Doreen Gariola, 61, a fifth-floor resident who uses a wheelchair when she goes out and a walker in her apartment, said some disabled residents are trapped in their rooms, while others are using the stairs, even though that could be hazardous to their health.

“This is not safe for anyone in this building,” she said, adding she will consider staying in a hotel.

Building management will continue to provide updates on the status of the repair work, Stanan said in its statement.

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