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Park Avenue Apartments gets new deadline for compliance

The Park Avenue Apartments seem to be on track to correct building and fire code violations cited last August, Park Rapids City Planner Andrew Mack said Tuesday.

"Everything has been resolved, with the exception of an order by the state fire marshal to install a fire sprinkler system," said Mack. "They've been making good progress to address other code violations, and have addressed everything in the order with that one exception."

An order to correct the violations was sent on Aug. 1, 2018 to owner Scott Rech with Stix and Brix, Inc. of Litchfield.

Concerns about the complex's safety and code compliance were brought to city officials on July 25 after fire marshal personnel did a child foster care inspection of the property at a tenant's request. A follow-up inspection on July 26 identified multiple concerns, with an initial deadline to correct the issues by Sept. 7, 2018.

Items identified in the inspection report included improper storage of flammable materials and hazardous equipment; holes in walls and ceilings; exposed insulation; lack of functioning smoke detectors, emergency lights, exit signs, fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide alarms; damaged or blocked exit doors; personal property and garbage collecting in hallways and stairwells; rotting food, filth, mold, shattered glass and foul odors found in common areas; storage shelves encroaching on electrical panels and meters; wiring and lighting deficiencies; and dryer vents that did not lead outdoors.

"A letter is going out as soon as today that's going to give them two weeks to get the bids in" for the fire sprinklers, Mack said, followed by a 90-day timeframe to complete the installation. "It appears that they are being very cooperative."

He noted that the new deadline is an extension of the fire marshal's initial 90-day deadline to bring the complex under codes.

Originally a school, the building was remodeled in three phases from 2004 to 2012, forming a total of 39 apartments. In August, Rech described the school's gymnasium and shop area as a still undeveloped "Phase IV" area.

Many of the code violations identified during the July inspection, like expired or vandalized fire alarms and missing fire extinguishers, "we fixed the same day they made us aware of it," Rech said at that time.

Contacted this week, Rech said, "Everything was corrected quite a few months ago, other than the last item, the sprinkler system. That's taken some time to clarify, a) whether we really need it or not, and b) what kind of system it needs to be. I guess that's now been clarified. So, we're working closely with the city" to complete their compliance checklist.