fire escape snapped

Jersey City apartment complex where fire escape snapped cited for safety violations

Amanda Eisenberg | The Jersey JournalBy Amanda Eisenberg | The Jersey Journal 
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on July 06, 2015 at 6:28 PM, updated July 07, 2015 at 7:00 AM
JERSEY CITY — Jersey City Fire Department officials found 48 violations at a multiplex apartment after the steps of the building’s fire escape snapped while residents were fleeing a fire there last month.

The four-story building, located at 500 Garfield Ave., is tucked away between Garfield Avenue and Bayside Terrace, but leaves “a lot to be desired,” said Charles Green, one longtime resident.

Green has lived in the building for 37 years and has seen rent increases for upgrades that he said the tenants don’t actually have.

“We paid for the intercoms and a security camera,” Green said. “The tenants paid for it but management doesn’t acknowledge any responsibility.”

While the intercom is still attached to the entrance of the building, it no longer works. According to Jersey City’s Division of Housing Code Enforcement, an inspector reported that there was no response to the bells back in December 2013.

Green said he and other residents have gotten into the habit of throwing their keys from a window down to visitors.

Other residents have reported problems with security. Management reportedly told Green and others that the lack of a working security camera is a police problem, not their problem.

The Jersey Journal reached out to River Edge Management, which owns and operates the complex, for comment via email and did not receive any statement regarding the violations. A message left on the company’s voicemail answering service was also not returned.

Green said the building has not had a superintendent in the last seven or eight years, so any repairs or problems are reported to an answering machine or email address that the management team set up. Green said that management will send over repairmen without warning the tenants.

Severo K. Gerena, a resident who was scraped up during the collapse of the fire escape stairs, said that management is slow to fix things until it is required.

Management replaced the fire escape shortly after the June 15 fire, but Gerena said the new hardware was put on the old rusted main beams.

“That’s all going to collapse if there’s another fire,” he said. “If that occurs, someone is going to die.”

After filing an Open Public Records Act request with Jersey City, The Jersey Journal found that the fire department cited management after the fire for 17 counts of safety hazards that needed to be abated by June 16. The other 31 violations need to be addressed by July 16.

The building and its revolving management has a history of failing inspections, the last which took place in 2012 prior to the fire, according to Jersey City spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill.

In 2008, there were 22 violations under Garfield Realty, L.L.C., 12 violations in 2011 under Hudson Property Management, and 48 violations under River Edge Management this year.