OSWEGO, NY â€“ Residents of a westside apartment house have until the end of this month to move out of their cockroach-infested building.
At its meeting Monday night, the Common Council voted in favor of an order to vacate, citing the premises as a health threat.
Neal Smith, code enforcement officer, requested the council order the upper south apartment at 38-40 W. Third St. to be vacated as it has been determined to be an unsafe structure due to the dwelling unit being infested with insects (cockroaches).
Smith requested the city intervene and help stop a serious cockroach infestation by vacating the premises to perform a thorough extermination of the pests.
Judy Santore, a West Third Street resident, spoke at the public session prior to the meeting.
She described problems at 38-40 W. Third St. as well as another nearby property.
She urged the councilors to do something before the problem gets any worse.
The building at 38-40 W. Third St. was determined to be an unsafe structure under the City of Oswego Building Code.
Councilor Connie Cosemento (First Ward) moved to amend the resolution to have all tenants move out by the end of the month, not just those in the one apartment.
She also moved to â€œrevoke all rental permits to mitigate the present infestation and complete the physical repairs in compliance with city code.â€
Councilor Bill Sharkey (Sixth Ward) second the motion and it was passed 6-0-1 with Councilor Mike Myers (Second Ward) being absent.
The resolution, as amended, was also passed unanimously.
Cosemento cited part of a city code that says residents can be made to vacate if the building is unsafe and unsanitary.
Alderman Ron Kaplewicz (Seventh Ward) quoted another section of the same ordinance that stated action can be taken if there is an impact on the city residents.
â€œSince Jan. 1 of this year to the present, there has been 82 fire and police calls to this address,â€ he pointed out. â€œThat should be a red flag. This goes beyond the residents of that apartment. This is a city problem.â€
Too much city manpower and taxpayer money was being tied up in just one apartment building, he said.
“If you have that kind of call record, something’s wrong,” Kaplewicz added. “I’m not saying it’s all wrong, but you need to figure out why, because it’s a great consumer of public service dollars and everyone is concerned with where we’re spending our time and our money.”
In a letter to Patti A. Morriseau, owner of the property, Smith wrote the apartment “is infested with cockroaches due to the unsanitary and unhealthful conditions perpetuated by the occupants.”
At last weekâ€™s committee meeting, Patricia Kelly, Oswego housing inspector, said she visited the premises on several occasions and asked the occupants to clean their homes. She even provided the tenants with a checklist for how to clean, she added.
As far as Kelly could tell, none of the occupants in the building complied with any of the recommendations she made.
Another owner of the property, Marcel Morriseau, said the city is taking action because the neighbors disapproved of the tenants and their lifestyles.
He told the committee members he hired exterminators and was doing everything in his power to help rectify the situation.
He claimed to have visited the occupants and asked them to clean as well.
Morriseau also said he provided dumpster services and paid for exterminators who can only spray once every 30 days.
He defended the tenants of the apartment in question saying, “They don’t drink or smoke. They stay to themselves and play video games.”
However, he told the committee last week that if the tenants are forced to vacate, he wouldnâ€™t provide an alternate place for them and wouldnâ€™t rent to them afterwards.