By JIMMY LAWTON
OGDENSBURG -- Ogdensburg Housing Authority Director William Seymour says all rooms infested with bedbugs have been or will be treated by the end of the week, but some tenants remain displeased with the response.
Seymour said about 15 percent, or around 30 of the units at Centennial and Riverview towers, are being treated following the outbreak. One bedbug infestation was also reported in Belmont Courts, Seymour said.
Seymour said a local exterminator was called immediately following the first reported bedbugs, but decided to seek assistance from an outfit in Syracuse after problems persisted.
Seymour also said that the infestation is not as bad as it sounds: he said the majority of the rooms included fewer than five bedbugs.
Seymour said taming an infestation requires assistance from tenants in order to be effective and residents from the towers who spoke at the meeting indicated there has not been compliance from people who have bedbugs in their apartments.
“They don’t care,” Sandy Sanders, who spoke at the meeting said.
She said exterminators instructed some of the tenants to put their clothes in the on high heat, but said many have failed to do so. Sanders said the infestation has made many residents at the towers nervous.
“Six people are leaving because they can’t handle it,” she said.
Sanders offered appreciation to the city for getting involved despite their lack of jurisdiction over the matter.
“I want to thank the mayor and the city manager for letting us talk about the bedbugs,” she said.
Sanders said some tenants are taking costly preventative measures to keep bedbugs from spreading and asked the city if the there was federal funding available to help. City Manager Sarah Purdy said she would reach out to Congresswoman Elise Stefanik regarding the issue.
Sanders also offered support to Seymour and the housing authority for taking action on the matter and pointed out that the tenants and the housing authority need to work together to solve the problem.
“They can’t fix this on their own,” she said.
Others were more critical of Seymour and the housing authority.
Tom Paterson questioned why the response from the housing authority took so long.
“If it wouldn’t have been for you and the newspapers and the TV reports, they wouldn’t have done anything,” he told council.
Paterson told the council he wanted more frequent room inspections. He said one annual inspection isn’t enough.
“In our lease it says we can be inspected anytime with 48 hours notice,” he said.
Paterson said the towers are being run with little oversight. Aside from the bedbug problem Paterson claimed drugs were being sold out of the building. He said police are contacted, but they get tired of responding. He noted that the dealers have scanners and are able to clean up before police arrive.
Mayor Wayne Ashley said the city has no oversight of the towers and recommended bringing concerns to the housing authority board meetings.