Developing: Northside Hotel ‘Unfit’ for Human Occupancy
Stevens Point hotel gets 48-hour warning |
By Brandi Makuski
The city’s inspection department has given a Stevens Point hotel until 4 PM on Thursday to prove it has cleared the building of mold or else it’ll shut down the business.
Comfort Suites, 300 Division St. North, was given a 48-hour notice in writing on Sept. 12, but problems inside the hotel stem at least as far back as last November.
Building Inspector Ximena Christianson said the city was first notified of mold concerns and structural deficiencies by a former manager of the hotel in late 2016.
“[The former manager] said he felt the owners were not listening to him about repairs he said the hotel needed,” Christianson said.
The complaint triggered an inspection by the city; then, she said, hotel owners were notified they needed to provide the city with professional evaluations on the extent of mold and the structural integrity of the building. Those services were contracted with local companies, Christianson said, and initial reports were provided to the city on the extent of the needed repairs.
That was four months ago.
“We got the original test results, but there were no follow-ups,” she said. “We didn’t get any additional information until last week when we got an email from [a local contractor] telling us they had not been able to clear the mold in at least six rooms.”
Rooms identified to have mold problems, along with adjacent rooms, were sealed off with plastic and signage by the city earlier this year, Christianson said, adding because each room has a separate ventilation system, the inspection department felt other areas of the building were safe for guests. Otherwise, she said, they would have “immediately” shut down the business.
The lack of communication has been hampering progress, Christianson said, and has forced the city’s hand in demanding a higher burden of proof the hotel is safe.
“It was our understanding they had eradicated the mold,” she said. “It was our understanding they were working with contractors. But then we receive this [email]…initially we wanted test results from the areas where there was mold, but it’s been four months — I want the entire hotel tested.”
Working with Christianson on this and related inspection issues is Mark Kordus, the city’s neighborhood improvement coordinator. Both say they’ve had difficult time finding an employee with any authority at the hotel, and that’s prolonged the process.
“The one real problem and disconnect was when the contractors had to answer directly to the owners, and the city had to wait for the owner to respond to us,” Kordus said.
Christianson said the hotel’s pool was closed earlier this year by the county health department for reasons she didn’t immediately know. A call to the Portage Co. Health Dept. was not immediately returned.
Comfort Suites was still catering to guests on Sept. 13, with several people eating breakfast in the hotel lobby that morning. A woman at the front desk claiming to be an assistant manager said she had no information about the warning signs taped on the doors, but did say moisture tests were being conducted sometime on Wednesday.
According to city tax records, the hotel is owned by Stevens Point Lodging Group LLC in Maple Grove, Minn., and is not affiliated with Comfort Inn in Plover.
A request for comment from the owners was not immediately returned.
Kordus said the inspection dept. has been in contact with the Stevens Point Police Dept., which — unless hotel owners provide complete testing data before the 4 PM deadline — will have officers at the hotel Thursday to assist with evicting guests and employees.
More as we have it.