Tenants suing landlord for removal of fire escapes
JA'PHETH TOULSON Special to the AmNews | 6/27/2012, 3:59 p.m.
After the evacuation of a Bronx building that left more than 200 residents displaced, new discoveries have been made about the engineer and real estate developers involved in the removal of the building's fire escapes.
Roland Draper, the licensed engineer who filed improper permits for renovations at 2400 Webb Ave. in the Bronx, removed the fire escapes illegally in April. The FDNY had responded to an unrelated incident before noticing the missing fire escapes.
"Fire escapes are required for that building," said FDNY spokesperson Frank Dwyer. "If there was a fire in that building without the fire escapes, it's very likely it will be a deadly fire. They [residents] would be trapped in their apartments. We would have a very difficult time getting them out, and they would have a difficult time getting out on their own."
According to NY1, the homeless tenants were promised $120 a day for hotels, but instead the owner of Goldfarb Properties is deducting payments from their June rent, they said. Representatives from Legal Services NYC-Bronx encouraged the tenants to file a class-action lawsuit in housing court, while city officials said they would attempt to fine Goldfarb Properties.
Draper is no stranger to these mistakes. According to CBS, he pled guilty to bid rigging for construction work done on Forest Park in Queens. As a result, his engineering licensing was suspended for two years and he was fined $5,000.
Meanwhile, the owners of the Webb Avenue building, Samuel and Phillip Goldfarb, were involved in paying $7,000 in bribes to Sara Bost, the one-time mayor of Irvington, N.J. , according to published reports, Department of Buildings spokeswoman Ryan FitzGibbon said they are investigating the previous work of the owner, engineer and contractor.