Oneonta, N.Y. - There is a huge historic building on Main St. in downtown Oneonta that has massive beautiful pillars and is now the talk of the town, but for the wrong reasons It's the former Oneonta Hotel that was built in 1910 after the original Oneonta Hotel was destroyed by fire.
Several years ago the building was divided into two separate properties. The section of the building on the left that spans the length of the first three windows is 189 Main St., which houses several businesses on all three floors, and the rest of the building is 195 Main St.. 195 Main St. houses businesses on the first floor and 45 rental apartments on the upper floors, and it's this section of the building that's been an issue in the city and is getting everyone's attention.
Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig says 195 Main St. has faced a large number of codes violations since November of 2017, and just this week, 15 months later, Otsego County Court Judge John Lambert sided with the city and ordered the owners to vacate their apartments of all tenants.
Hon. Lambert gave the owners of the building until 4:30 P.M. Thursday to have everyone removed from the apartments.
Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig says Oneonta police officers escorted city codes enforcement officers through the building early Friday morning to make sure the tenants were gone, but he says they may not all have left, "I believe our code enforcement officer was over at the building this morning. He came back and believes that there may be one or two people living there. We have asked that they get connected with Opportunities for Otsego, who is working closely with the Otsego Department of Social Services, they have the resources to assist them and having a place to live. We’re not looking for the sheriff to come in and remove people, we want to work closely with people."
The owners of the building, Nicolae and Melania Pervu, say they believe their building is in compliance with all codes and they're not sure what the city is talking about. Both have been charged with contempt for not making the necessary repairs and are scheduled to face a judge on the contempt charges on March 20th.
Nicolae Pervu, in tears Monday morning, told News Channel 2 he is at a breaking point. He says he feels he and wife have been targeted by the city and doesn't know why. He says he and his wife have paid for repair after repair, but the city keeps coming back and finds more things wrong. He says he and his wife will present evidence to show the codes violations have been fixed when they appear in court in March.
Mayor Herzig says there is still a laundry list of codes issues in the building, "The violations are lengthy, I think we have 10 pages of the violations. Some are fairly minor and do not affect safety and those aren’t the ones that were concerned about. There are some significant violations that have to do with the sprinkler system, that have to do with the heating system, that have to do with leaks in the roof of the building, so those are the ones that we're more concerned about, the ones that really put people at risk."
Nicolae Pervu says he escaped capture from communists in his native country of Romania in the 1970's and ended up here in the United States. He says ever since, he and his wife Melania have made a nice life for themselves, they call it 'The American Dream', but that dream has quickly become a nightmare.
Nicolae Pervu first settled in the U.S. in New York City where he was a cab driver for many years. He and his wife moved upstate in 1994 to become farmers, buying a farm north of Oneonta.
In 2015 they sold that farm and bought the larger portion of the former Oneonta Hotel, known as 195 Main St. for $500,000 and they say they have made the necessary upgrades to get the building code compliant after Nicolae Pervu says the previous owner neglected it.
The Pervu's say this venture is their livelihood, and they say they wouldn't jeopardize their livelihood by not fixing things so they have continued to fix things to be compliant and they will prove it in court.