Police want to clean up Middle School apartments
BY Sarah smith
The owner and manager of a Park Rapids apartment complex say they are working hard to clean up their act after a fight last week brought hordes of squad cars downtown.
Park Rapids Police Chief Terry Eilers said they need to work harder.
The Middle School apartments are a thorn in the department’s side, Eilers maintains.
“We’re there four, five times a week,” the chief groused after a fight last week involved several officers trying to get the melee under control.
Scott Rech and Lou Ann Rech, the owner and manager respectively, say they’ve cleaned up the premises, remodeled the south side and added more apartments. All are rented.
The Rechs say there are numerous police calls to the building because they’re taking a proactive stance in getting authorities there at the first sign of trouble. Lou Ann Rech lives in the complex that houses 39 apartments and 113 people.
“I really don’t usually call myself,” Lou Ann Rech said. “I called the Sheriff’s Department a few weeks ago and asked them for reports on everything. Myself and the other building managers in town have been trying to get the Police Department to send us reports every time something happens but the police station just doesn’t have the manpower for that.
“You know, small police station. It would take somebody like all day, every day to send reports to the management and I asked them if they could send reports on the individual addresses, but they can’t even do that, she said.
“If I had a full report, I could say, ‘OK this particular apartment is making trouble’ or it’s just a lot of random stuff. That’s one of the problems.”
Sheriff Cory Aukes said although his department dispatches officers there, he’s unaware of any records requests to his alma mater of eight years.
“I went to school there,” he said.
“We spend 80 percent of our time handling stuff over there,” Eilers said. “It’s huge over there. We’re in and out of there, in and out of there with fights and everything you can think of. We’ve had complaints of people cutting up pigeons and eating them over there. We went and tried to clean all that up there.
“We got the building inspectors in there and went through the place. There’s just a lot of stuff going on over there. A lot of the downtown people are complaining about it because of the supposed ‘riff-raff’ that hangs around on Main street. They leave there and then they go down on Main street.”
Rech said the pigeon problems were overblown and were quickly taken care of.
“A couple years ago the building wasn’t run as good and we had some management issues and there were some bad people hanging out there,” Scott Rech acknowledged. “Now we’re trying as hard as we can. We don’t want any of that over here.
“Please, police officers, come and get these guys.”
But Scott Rech disputes the complex takes up a disproportionate amount of taxpayers resources.
“I don’t see why there are any more calls there than (other) apartments,” he said, adding it could just be a numbers game.
“There’s more people that live in our complex than any other complex,” Scott Rech said. “There’s 113 people there and some of them have special needs and I’m sure there’s some calls because of that and health calls. Some people it doesn’t take a lot to get them riled up.”
Scott Rech, who lives in Litchfield, said emergency calls are a matter of perspective.
“The nursing home next to me has ambulances running there all the time but we’re not going to pick on them because they’re old and they’re dying,” he said.
Both Scott and Lou Ann Rech said they feel picked on, singled out.
The police chief disagrees.
“Tuesday’s incident was nothing out of the ordinary,” he said of the fight that caused officers from several agencies to respond.
“Same old stuff. It always involves drinking, fighting and weapons and drugs, stuff like that.
“We try and do our best to get over there and answer the calls and sort it out and of course nobody wants to talk to anybody once we get there,” Eilers said.
“Lou has 20 years of property management experience and we put her up there and she has done a great job up there and she has a great clientele base up there,” Scott Rech said.
“If there’s some drunk idiot that wandered in from the bars, because we’re close to the bars, she’s gonna call the cops. She ain’t gonna tangle with them.
“She’s up there taking care of business. If there’s a guy beating up his girlfriend, she’s gonna call the cops.”
The Rechs say there is a rather large list of undesirables they have taken
“no trespassing” orders out on. If any show up, residents or managers are to call for police.
“People with protection orders and we have several no trespass orders that we’ve had problems with, troublemakers, spray painters and people that have been on our roof before so that could be part of the thorn in his side,” Scott Rech said of the chief.
“We’re sorry we’re a thorn in his side but we’re trying as hard as we can and the only way we can control that is to have that list of people” and to call authorities.
“We’ve caught people spray painting, breaking things in the hallways, breaking windows, breaking the doors,” Scott Rech said.
“There’s not much the city can do about it,” Eilers said. “Maybe get a little harder on inspections to shut parts of it down but I doubt they’d do that either. I wish I knew.
“We’re going to start charging people and we can charge the owners with disorderly houses. There’s an ordinance in the rental (statutes) that we passed a year ago,” the chief said of citing people.
Stix & Brix, Inc., a corporation based out of Litchfield, is the named owner. Scott Rech heads the corporation.
The police chief characterizes the tenants as welfare-collecting unemployed. And he claims the Rechs, as long as government pays the tab, won’t evict the tenants.
Both Rechs dispute this. They say only three of the apartments are government-subsidized while another six get some rental assistance.
“We’ll do four or five (calls) a week, sometimes three a night, depending on the night,” Eilers said.
“Way more people pay their rent by working than they do by getting government assistance,” Lou Ann Rech said.
The apartment complex has been the center of some council discussions over the years and there have been talks about the city reaching out to the tenants.
Lou Ann and Scott Rech say they welcome the opportunity.