HOBOKEN — Exterminators are battling a bed bug infestation at the privately-owned Columbian Towers senior citizen apartment tower, local officials said.
“One woman says she’s been eaten alive, and she doesn’t even sleep in the bed anymore,” Hudson County Freeholder Anthony Romano said Wednesday night.
Romano, who is running for mayor in Hoboken’s Nov. 7 non-partisan election, first called attention to the issue on Monday, when he held a press conference at the Bloomfield Street location accompanied by some of the senior tenants.
Bed bug bites can cause discomfort in the form of itching and soreness, accompanied by redness and swelling that can be mistaken for mosquito bites.
A spokesman for Mayor Dawn Zimmer said the administration is well aware of the bed bug situation, as well as complaints about heating, trash and leaks at Columbian Towers. The city has taken action against the building’s owner, including issuing summons with fines totaling more then $1,000.
“At this time, most complaints have been abated,” according to a statement released by Melli.
“The Health Department has been responding to complaints of bed bugs at 76 Bloomfield Street for several months and has been continuously following up with the management company and their exterminator, which has conducted nearly a dozen treatments at the building so far,” the statement said. “The Health Department will continue to proactively address the issue, as it has with other complaints that have been received at the building.”
Romano said tenants have been unhappy with the building’s new ownership and management company since it was sold by the Knights of Columbus. Officials could not immediately identify the building’s owner or the management company.
Phone messages left at a number for Columbian Towers were not returned Wednesday night.
Romano is vying against three City Council members and two business people in a race to succeed Zimmer when she steps down in January.
Romano said his appearance at the apartment tower Monday had nothing to do with the upcoming election.
The 60-year-old Hoboken native and retired police captain said he knew some of the residents personally and felt compelled to call attention to their plight. He also said he was not blaming the Zimmer administration or the city health officer, Frank Sasso, whom he praised.
“I don’t want to make it a political angle,” he said.
City Councilman David Mello, who is running for re-election on Romano’s slate, did say he was unhappy that a single individual, Leo Pellegrini, had been burdened with the dual role of directing both the departments of health and human service and environmental services, though Mello said he did not know whether that situation had hindered the city’s response to the bed bug problem.
“I would hope a new administration — and I would hope it’s going to be our administration — would put two directors in those two spots like it used to be,” Mello said.