A city-imposed deadline to remove unlawful space heaters from a Lakewood condominium building has come and gone.
Now, a month later, those portable heating units are still sitting in dozens of units at Marine Towers East, with no timetable for them to be removed.
Buildings in Lakewood are required to have a permanent source of heat, but neighbors tell newsnet5.com the heat for about a quarter of the building went out last winter after some pipes burst.
“Fix the pipes! Why are they not fixing the pipes? Do that! Restore the heat!” homeowner Pam McKenna said.
Sam Grabowski unplugged his space heater after city inspectors said they were not up to code.
“I have a son, and like I said earlier, there is one way in and one way out,” Grabowski said. "So if there was a fire to erupt, that’s it. We have no way out.”
A city inspector cited the building in November, and ordered the heat fixed and the space heaters removed by early December.
So why are they still there? Lakewood Building Commissioner Michael Molinski said progress has been made to reduce the hazard by moving those space heaters to their own separate circuit.
"We do not believe that this poses an imminent hazard for anyone,” Molinski said. “Our only other option would be to have to have those people removed form their homes because of lack of heat in those condominiums and if we don’t have to force that, we’d rather not.”
Meanwhile, the condo board told homeowners new pipes and an HVAC system would cost more than $3 million. McKenna’s share is more than $16,000 and the first payment is due at the beginning of February.
“That’s almost designed to bankrupt people,” she said.
newsnet5.com tried to contact condo board president Lee Faulhaber, but there was no answer.
Grabowski’s share of the bill is even higher. He is now speaking with a lawyer.
“They’re saying I have a lawsuit,” Grabowski said, “Yes, I’m going to go with it. If I have to go against the board, or First Realty, I’m going to do what I have to do.”
Grabowski, McKenna and a handful of other homeowners believe the project should fall under the category of capital improvement and not maintenance, which would have required a building vote before the contract was approved. They believe regular association dues should cover the cost and think some neighbors will be forced into foreclosure.
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