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More than a dozen College Point residents who have been homeless for nearly seven months took a big step toward returning home on Christmas Eve, but tensions were running high at Queens Civil Court in Jamaica.
After several hours of bickering and confusion between the tenants and owners of Schleicher’s Court, Civil Court Judge Maria Ressos signed a court order that set up a six−week schedule for emergency wiring repairs to be completed at the Victorian home.
Residents of Schleicher’s Court, a three−story mansion built in 1851, have been forced to stay in shelters or with relatives for nearly seven months after the city Department of Buildings issued a vacate order on the apartments in the house because of an antiquated electrical wiring system it characterized as “dangerous.”
The court order set up a six−week schedule for the work to be completed by the beginning of February, after which the DOB said it would immediately inspect the apartments in hopes of lifting the vacate order.
The relationship between the tenants of the mansion’s seven apartments and the buildings managers, Eva Rohan and Georgina Sagr, has been prickly. Rohan, who owns the building, is also in the process of selling the home to Tommy Haimeck, a College Point contractor.
Last week, police from the 109th Precinct responded to the home after Haimeck called in a burglary only to find the tenants of the building waiting for Con Edison inspectors to give them access to their apartments. Haimeck said he noticed one of the doors to the apartments was unlocked and did not know the tenants had opened the door.
“I’m responsible for their stuff,” Haimeck said. “They aren’t supposed to be there. I came and found one of the apartments unlocked, so I called the police.”
The tenants, however, believe Haimeck’s call to the police was malicious.
“What he’s doing is criminal,” said Rita Douglas, one of the tenants. “My 81−year−old father was sitting in my apartment because he was cold and all of a sudden all these police officers are interrogating him.”
Douglas said the officers burst into the home and startled her father sitting in the foyer, who was keeping warm inside while the other tenants waited for inspectors to arrive.
To avoid any further confrontation, part of the court order includes a stipulation that Haimeck cannot be at the apartment while the electrical work is being completed.
“They think I’m trying to hold this up, but why would I?” Haimeck said. “I’m trying to buy this house, I need this stuff to move forward. This is counterproductive for me.”
Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e−mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 138.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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