GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Opinion

July 3, 2013

Editorial: Rockport should force Paragon's hand

It’s good to hear that Paragon Properties had addressed the complaints of Sandy Bay Estates’ tenants regarding poor and broken down lighting at the Rockport housing complex this spring.

But it’s troubling that Rockport town health agent Leslie Whelan found a number of other violations when she visited the complex in June, and has now issued a letter to the Needham-based development company citing “conditions deemed to endanger or impair health or safety” that ranged from gaps in handrails and guardrails to laundry room sink sediment and poorly lit auxiliary lights and exit signs.

Look, with 96 apartments, including a number of publicly-subsidized units, Sandy Bay Estates and Paragon Properties is entrusted with providing and caring for a significant piece of Rockport’s housing stock, and the company’s lax maintenance efforts should indeed command the town’s and its Board of Health’s attention.

According to state law, Paragon Properties must begin all necessary repairs to critical problems within 24 hours or receiving the Board of Health letter, which was sent June 24. And the letter states that repairs to other violations must be started within five days, with the company required to make a “good faith” effort to correct the problems by July 25.

What if that doesn’t happen? There are a number of options, and the town can force Paragon’s hand by clamping down fines of up to $500 a day of violation. But those can only be enforced by taking the company to court, a step the town has this far been reluctant to take to date.

Simply put, town officials cannot let Paragon call their legal bluff. If there is indeed no “good faith” effort by Paragon as of July 25, town officials should follow through with court action. Sandy Bay tenants and other residents deserve nothing less.

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