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Tamaqua hi-rise residents trying to cope with the heat Temporary repairs begin on broken A/C unit

  • Andrew Leibenguth/times news Patricia Freeh-Stefanek, ABC Building Manager, (second from left) and high-rise residents provide cold refreshments to other residents during the a tenant meeting held Friday afternoon.
    Andrew Leibenguth/times news Patricia Freeh-Stefanek, ABC Building Manager, (second from left) and high-rise residents provide cold refreshments to other residents during the a tenant meeting held Friday afternoon.
Published June 05. 2010 09:00AM

The 130 residents of the ABC Tamaqua High Rise on East Broad Street in Tamaqua are hoping the temporary emergency repairs being made to the air conditioning unit that started Friday will bring relief before the heat of summer really kicks in.

Due to the building's broken central-air two-phase air conditioning unit, residents in the higher floors were experiencing temperatures as high as 100 degrees, while residents on the lower floors experienced temperatures as high as 90 degrees.

The building's nine-year old $135,000 single to two pipe air conditioning unit stopped working last year and various delays have further complicated the repair or replacement of a new unit. In November of 2009, proposals were created and provided for repairs and replacement of a new chiller.

The Pennsylvania Housing and Finance Agency helps control the mortgage, as well as their "Reserve for Replacement" account for use with major repairs. The state agency requested more answers on why the unit stopped working nine years after it was installed. This, as well as financial proposal negotiations delayed the replacement or repair of the broken unit.

A new specially-ordered chiller barrel won't be shipped until mid-July.

The ABC Tamaqua Hi-Rise, formerly called the Tamaqua Hi-Rise Apartments, a non-profit organization, has 117 apartments on about 15 floors. The building was originally built without central air conditioning in 1974. Before the installation of the 179-ton air conditioning unit in 2001 and installation of new windows, tenants were allowed to place air conditioners in the windows.

Since the new windows installed in the high rise building don't allow for window-mounted air conditioners, some residents are currently utilizing self-bought or donated indoor portable air conditioners while others are using large fans to help quell the high heat. The most serious concern was for residents who are on oxygen or who aren't in the best of health.

Dennis Cappozolo, parent company President, Alliance For Building Committees, held a meeting Friday afternoon with many of the tenants to better explain the situation and answer any questions the tenants might have. He stated that the resident's safety and comfort is his main priority.

He also pointed out that all the variables are coming together and hopes to have a new energy efficient and more reliable unit installed and working in August. Tenants will still have to make do with the results of the temporary repairs until then.

One official stated that repairing the air conditioning unit wouldn't be cost effective and would probably cost as much as a new unit. Both the ABC Tamaqua Hi-Rise Inc and Johnson Controls of Wilkes-Barre, company contracted to do repairs, will be working hard over the weekend to finish the temporary repairs until the new unit is installed by or in August.

Hi-Rise residents are also encouraged to check up on each other as well as utilize cooler parts of the building during really hot weather. Senior residents age 60 or older are encouraged to contact the Schuylkill County Office of Senior Services in Pottsville at 570-628-1190 for better ways of dealing with the heat.

Volunteers from the Tamaqua Volunteers are planning on providing cold water and ice cream to further help the seniors and residents over the next few weeks. Patricia Freeh-Stefanek, ABC Building Manager, encourages any of the high rise residents with any health concerns or problems to contact the ABC High-Rise office.

Both Capozzolo and Stefanek reminded tenants that they are their main concern.

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