A group of disabled and senior citizen residents at Roosevelt Apartments on Main Street became upset after they were informed they would need to vacate their units for at least part of a day while renovations are made. They also were directed to stay with family or friends during that time.
Begining at 6 a.m. Friday, the water and electricity will be shut off all day, a memo from the apartment manager reads.
The work involves University at Buffalo's plans to use commercial space in the seven-story building as part of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus project.
The renovations require additional power, so National Grid will be upgrading power to accommodate the improvements, said Dennis Penman, one of the owners of the Roosevelt, which houses seniors and disabled people.
Penman said managers are trying to secure generators for temporary power for emergency lighting and elevators as well as some power in the community room. And they will try to make residents as comfortable as possible.
This is one of those "inevitable bumps in the road when we're progressing," Penman said.
"We are very sensitive to the needs of people who live in that building," he added.
Residents say they do not want to stand in the way of progress, but given their health conditions and ages, leaving their homes is more than an inconvenience. Many said their options are limited.
"What am I going to do? Where am I going to go?" said Oscar Robinson, who has lived in one of the 114 units for the past two years. He is on oxygen and has been "real sick" lately, in and out of the hospital because of his ailments.
"We can't stop progress, but we demand fair treatment," said Johnnie Calegon, a Roosevelt resident since 2004.
Calegon organized a petition signed by 46 residents requesting a meeting with M.J. Peterson, the management company, to discuss the matter as well as some safety concerns they have. The petition was mailed Tuesday, she said.
"They shouldn't dislocate us without making arrangements to have something comfortable instead of asking us to stay with family and friends," said Calegon, who is among numerous residents who depend on wheelchairs.
Many others are amputees and have chronic health issues. Except for medical appointments, hospital stays and dialysis treatment, many rarely leave the building.
The memo to tenants was distributed sometime during the week of Aug. 8, Calegon said.
Meanwhile, management and owners also are working on providing power to the community room that day, where sodas and water will be available. He added that residents can stay in their units if they want. They just will not have power or water. Penman also said mangement is trying to determine whether National Grid can shut off power overnight instead of during the day.
"We are working with contractors and with National Grid trying to coordinate the most comfortable transition for that time," Penman said.