Repairs drag at Schleicher’s

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For Rita Douglas, it is another day and another battle.

After the residents of Schleicher’s Court in College Point seemingly achieved victory in February when the city lifted a vacate order on their home — allowing them to return for the first time in eight months — Douglas said they will be back in court once again Wednesday.

Douglas said although they have reoccupied the 19th-century mansion at 11-41 123rd St., they have been living without gas ever since. She said the tenants are now headed back to Civil Court in Jamaica to demand a court order be enforced, requiring their landlord, Eva Rohan, to make fixes so Con Edison can restore service to the building.

“It’s horrible. It’s gotten to the point where my fiancé is like, ‘Let’s just leave,’ but I just can’t do that,” said Douglas, who lives on the first floor. “They’re just malicious about not doing this work. This has affected so many aspects of our lives. I’m doing this on principle now.”

But Robert Cuniffe, who has been completing repairs on the building for the last three to four months in hopes of purchasing the 19th-century mansion from Rohan, said work is going forward as planned.

“Most of the repairs have been completed, with the exception of the gas. It does take time, though,” Cuniffe said. “They said we are violating a court order, but that’s completely untrue. We have hired a certified plumber to complete the work. There is the case number, there is the reference number, but right now we’re waiting for Con Edison to come in and tell us the size of the pipe that needs to go in to connect to the street. It’s out of our hands now.”

The half-dozen residents of the building were forced to stay in shelters or with relatives for more than eight months during the last year after the city Department of Buildings issued a vacate order on the house because of an antiquated electrical wiring system it characterized as “dangerous.”

Since being forced out in July 2008, the tenants have waged a battle with the building’s owners, Eva Rohan and Georgina Sagr, who they contend have been trying to force them out by not completing the repair work in hopes of selling the building more easily.

“It’s like one thing after another,” Douglas said.

Calls to Rohan, who lives in upstate New York, were not returned. Cuniffe said he hopes to complete the purchase of the home in the coming days and said, despite the hardship, he has no plans to change anything about the house or remove the renters.

“Some of the residents have said that the potential purchasers would want to tear it down. Well, I have no intentions of doing that,” Cuniffe said. “I love the house.”

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at sstirling@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

Posted 6:35 pm, October 10, 2011
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