REVERE (CBS) – Safety concerns over several Revere high-rise apartment buildings with no working elevators reached a tipping point in a Boston housing courtroom on Friday.
Judge Jeffrey Winik urged the Water’s Edge property owners to meet with state inspectors on Friday evening to get the elevators functioning as soon as possible.
“If you are on the 14th floor and you don’t have a working elevator, that presents a significant safety hazard,” Winik said in court. “That cannot and should not go a day without being addressed.”
The WBZ I-Team first reported on state inspectors shutting down the elevators in February. It meant tenants, some carrying children, had to walk up to 18 flights of stairs to get to their apartments.
Marty Paquette saw the signs posted on the elevator doors when she returned home from work more than two weeks ago.
“I actually just started to cry,” she told the I-Team.
Paquette needs a knee replacement and suffers from arthritis, so walking up the stairs with a cane to her 9th-floor apartment is nearly impossible. It took her two hours to make the climb that night, and she remained trapped in her apartment, unable to leave.
Luckily, she was able to work from home as a nurse administrator. A friend also brought her groceries to restock the dwindling supply in her cupboards.
“I feel helpless and hopeless,” Paquette expressed.
Paquette said her biggest concern was safety, and whether first responders would be able to get up all the steps in time if there was an emergency.
“It’s the kind of stuff that keeps me up at night,” said Revere Fire Chief Christopher Bright.
Chief Bright told the I-Team that city regulators have a long, contentious history with the property owners, Connecticut-based Carabetta Companies. He doesn’t feel like they have been responsive when concerns have been raised, especially the safety dilemma created by non-working elevators.
“It’s a mess,” Bright said. “If there’s a fire, those people will not be able to get out of the building in a safe manner and we will not be able to go in there quickly to rescue them.”
Building owner Evelyn “Kiki” Carabetta sat quietly during the proceeding as her attorneys disputed allegations they are not responding to tenants in need.
After the hearing, Carabetta dodged the I-Team’s questions, but attorney William Baldiga said the courtroom dialogue had resulted in progress.
“We’ve had some real problems with management companies who have been in there,” Baldiga said. “We are turning around those problems, but it takes a while.”
Baldiga said property owners have been waiting for state inspectors to give the elevators the green light after recent repairs. He added that his client has already hired a company to replace all the elevators in the near future.
Revere city attorneys and apartment property owners reached an agreement during the hearing, which stipulated:
- Extended office hours for tenants to communicate with management
- Notices delivered to each tenant to provide an update on the elevator situation
- Temporary housing paid by property owners for all tenants with ambulatory issues or any tenants living above the third floor
Paquette hired attorney Marc Chapdelaine to file a complaint and finally landed in a hotel on Thursday night. “We are pleased with today’s progress, but remain focused on obtaining fair compensation for our clients, including past rent reimbursement, caused by Water’s Edge disregard for their tenants’ quality of life and safety,” he said.
Ryan Kath can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him on Twitter or connect on Facebook.