By Andrea Cordle
Prairie Township officials are hoping to finally find a resolution to the ongoing issues at Galloway Village Apartments.
Last month, the Franklin County Board of Health declared the apartments, located on North Murray Hill Road, a public nuisance and designated all the buildings on the property as unfit for human habitation.
Earlier this month, the Franklin County Public Health Care Coordination team held several meetings in the township to help provide support and resources to tenants of the complex. These resources included relocation assistance, transportation assistance, and health care. The Franklin County Board of Commissioners set aside $1 million in funding to provide this support for the Galloway Village residents.
“Franklin County Public Health will continue to work with the Franklin County Board of Commissioners, Prairie Township, and other local officials and community partners to ensure the Galloway Village tenants find a safe and healthy place to reside,” said Joe Mazzola, Franklin County Public Health commissioner.
According to Prairie Township, Galloway Village Apartments were built between 1962 and 1964. There are 36 buildings that include more than 350 apartments and 96 town homes. About 90 tenants were living in the complex when it was deemed unfit for occupation.
Administrator James Jewell said Prairie Township has been dealing with issues at the apartment complex for well over a year. He said around that time, trash started to pile up and the township was over there picking up trash and bulk items left out.
“It got really bad about a year ago,” said Jewell.
The apartment complex, owned by the Chetrit Group out of New York, owes the township over $115,000 for trash removal services.
Jewell said inspectors found mold, bed bugs, rats, needles, feces, and numerous fire code violations.
According to Prairie Township Fire Marshal Matt Powers, many of the buildings did not have working smoke detectors and fire extinguishers were missing or outdated.
In a letter to officials, Powers said, “Exit doors and egress components are non-reliable. The roofing components of some of the buildings have been deteriorated and compromised, which now poses the possibility of collapse during the event of potential fire involvement. Egress windows are boarded up with the use of screws, which is considered a life safety hazard to the occupants and firefighters. There are multiple holes in the walls and ceiling which poses the possibility of significant fire spread. There is open electricity in common paths of travel, some of which are high voltage where children travel to school.”
This apartment complex is near Prairie Lincoln Elementary School. It is also close to a retirement community.
In addition to the fire and health safety hazards, Jewell said the county sheriff’s office has been called to the complex more than 400 times and there have been two arsons in the past year.
Jewell said he is concerned about the number of times first responders are called to the complex.
“It’s putting our firefighters in danger,” he said.
The board of health has given the property management 30 days to remedy the conditions
at the apartment complex.
The property owners could invest in the needed repairs, sell the property to a company willing to make the improvements, or turn the property over to the township for demolition.
“We just want to make sure it’s as safe and secure as possible,” said Jewell.
The property owners are scheduled to have a hearing with township officials on Jan. 25.
After the hearing, the trustees will have 30 days to decide what to do with the property.
The Messenger reached out to Galloway Village for comment, but as of press time, communication was not returned.