NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Construction at one Upper West Side building came to a halt Sunday over a plan that did not sit well with tenants.

As CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported, the tenants said they were told to climb up the fire escape while the stairs in the walk-up building were being fixed.

The building at 167 W. 83rd St. is a walk-up with no elevator. A single staircase is what everyone above the ground floor must use.

But building management recently sent a letter to tenants telling them to pull down the metal ladder on the fire escape and hop up during construction that would have taken the stairs out of service every day from June 21 to June 26.

“This is absurd,” a tenant said.

The longstanding tenant, who did not want CBS2 to show her face or use her name, said she is afraid of retribution from the owners Pine Management.

Another tenant, Lior Levi, said he moved in just three months ago.

“I can’t believe that this is the way they treat tenants, “Levi said.

“They would have to put them somewhere else until they finish the stairway” such as a hotel, added neighbor Luz Rodriguez.

Longtime tenants described using the fire escape to get in and out of their apartments as ludicrous, unreasonable, and illegal. They reported it to the Fire Department down the street, and also to their city Councilmember Helen Rosenthal (D-6th)

“You really expected a senior or someone with a baby carriage to go up and down the fire escape?” Rosenthal said. “I immediately called the commissioner at the Department of Buildings.”

Pine Management issued a statement to CBS2 in response to the complaints.

“From the commencement of this project, we received all necessary municipal permits and approvals and will continue to abide by all procedures to ensure the safety of our tenants,” the statement said.
But the city’s Department of Buildings posted a stop work order. And with work half done, private fire guards must be paid for by property owners to watch over the building at all times.

“We’re standing on plywood – great,” said the tenant who declined to be identified. “You know, that’s a fire hazard.”

Tenants said no matter what happens, don’t expect them to use the fire escape unless it is a truly an urgent and unforeseen emergency.

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