Old elevators break down, but seniors in West Haven said they have been dealing with a problem with elevators at the city’s public housing units for years.
The city said they are being replaced, but until that is complete, some said they don’t feel safe using the elevators, but others don’t have another option.
Marylou Savo, of West Haven, said the rides at the John Prete Senior Housing can be rocky, but that’s if the elevators are working at all.
"If I'm on it alone, I get very, very nervous,” Savo said.
Right now, just one elevator is operating, as workers are in the process of replacing the other one.
It is the same situation over at the 12-story Surfside Complex on Oak Street.
Dorothea Truehart said she lived in that building before moving to Prete.
"I got stuck with the ambulance man. They had to come up the stairs to get me. I'm glad I'm out of there. Feel sorry for them,” Trueheart said.
The city said it understands the frustration, saying for years the housing authority was mismanaged and capital projects were put off, but now it is trying to catch up.
"The elevators are licensed, they're safe, and they’re just old. It’s like a car that just keeps stalling on you. You have to keep getting something done to keep it moving,” said John Counter, of the West Haven Housing Authority.
The authority is spending $1.2 million for two new elevators.
"The fact of the matter is we have two elevators that are 23 years past their shelf life. One is getting replaced and will be done by the end of the month, the other intermittently is breaking down, the result of 23 years of lack of maintenance,” said West Haven Mayor Ed O’Brien.
The plan is to have the new elevator up and running at Prete in two weeks, with a new elevator at Surfside finished in a month-and-a-half.
Then, officials will start replacing the two other elevators.
"I can walk down the stairs, but what about my husband and other people with walkers and wheelchairs,” Savo said.
In the meantime, the mayor said until the new elevators are in, the fire department is on stand-by to respond and assist anyone needing help to get downstairs in case of emergency.
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