CITY OF NEWBURGH – Sonia Miranda is afraid to ride the elevator.
Linda Sciaffo looks around when she arrives home from work at night.
Betty Copertino is depressed.
Each is a senior living in the high-rise at Lake Street Apartments, a housing complex in the southwest corner of the City of Newburgh.
In a notice sent last month, Lake Street’s property manager warned residents to be wary after three reports of a “man approaching a woman saying inappropriate things.”
Residents are not only feeling unsafe. They are also frustrated by a bedbug problem in one unit that has forced them to clean out their closets and pile bagged-up and boxed belongings into living rooms and kitchens to make way for three phases of extermination.
Miranda, 73, said a man frightened her during an elevator incident a year ago.
“He grabbed me by my hands and said, ‘You’re going to be mine,’” she said. “I had to scream.”
Miranda and Sciallo, 63, brought their grievances to Newburgh’s City Council during Tuesday’s public meeting. Sciallo handed police Chief Doug Solomon a copy of the notice from Donna Osborne, Lake Street’s property manager.
The notice warns residents about an older man of medium height and weight. He's described as a black man with “gray showing in his moustache” and wearing glasses and a hat.
“So far, we have been made aware of three incidents of this man approaching women when they are alone and saying very inappropriate things,” Osborne wrote.
A security guard once worked at the high-rise, but only from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., Sciallo said. The guard was eventually fired for sleeping on the job and has not been replaced, she said.
“Sometimes there’s drug dealers outdoors,” Sciallo said. “I come into the building and I got to look to make sure there’s no one around.”
Miranda entered her apartment on Wednesday and left her walker in the kitchen. It was too wide to fit in the narrow path through her living room, which was crowded with packed-up clothing and other belongings.
Because of bedbugs in a tenant's unit, an exterminator began treating apartments on Sept. 28. The company was to return Friday for a second treatment and Oct. 26 for a third.
Miranda’s neighbor, Betty Copertino, has a dining-room table buried under bulging green trash bags and other items. In her kitchen, the bottom shelf of an open cabinet supports one end of a bar from which she has hung clothes.
It was nonsensical to return clothing to closets and dressers in the two weeks between treatments, said Copertino, 72.
“It’s been that way for three weeks,” she said. “I am depressed.”