28 residents forced to leave Holley Hotel after building deemed unsafe

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 August 2022 at 2:43 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers: The Holley Hotel at the corner of Route 31 and Thomas Street was cleared out today of the 28 residents after the building was declared unsafe and unsanitary on Aug. 3 by village code enforcement officer Mylynda Kuba.

HOLLEY – The Holley Hotel has been ordered to close today, forcing 28 residents to find other shelter.

The building on Aug. 3 was deemed to be unsafe and unsanitary by Mylynda Kuba, the village code enforcement officer. She set today as the evacuation day.

Many of the residents have been assisted by the Department of Social Services. About 15 or 16 are staying at a Batavia motel in the short term. Others are staying with friends and family.

DSS and other agencies in the county are trying to help the displaced residents. Community Action had a table with clothes, shoes and other supplies set up by the firehall this morning and past noon.

Kathy Blackburn, the building owner, said the three-story building will be exhaustively cleaned and then an exterminator will focus on ridding the site of insects and rodents.

“This gives me an opportunity to clean up and get everything out,” Blackburn said. “Everything is being cleaned.”

Blackburn said residents have filled five dumpsters so far as the building is emptied for a massive cleaning.

She hoping she can resolve the issues and have residents back soon. She said she is concerned for the residents who have had their lives disrupted.

The Holley Hotel is known as a place for registered sex offenders, people on parole and others who are difficult to place in housing. Blackburn said the residents look out for each other and for the most part are kind. They have a Thanksgiving dinner in the hallway and many celebrate Christmas together.

She took over the building following the death of her longtime companion Gordon Tooley, who died in a car accident on Oct. 5, 2019. Blackburn said a new roof and windows were recently put in Holley Hotel. She acknowledged there are issues and she wants to resolve them.

Near the front entrance is a stairwell that leads to the second and third floors. The Holley Hotel has about 40 units. The site is being emptied and cleaned.

Kuba, in a notice posted on the front door, said the building is infested with cockroaches, bed bugs and rodents. She also said the back fire escape isn’t structurally sound and needs to be fixed. She also said the building needs plumbing and electrical upgrades to be brought up to code. She wants a regular report on the smoke alarm system.

“Right now it’s an overall hazard to everyone involved,” Kuba said today.

She did an annual fire inspection of the building in February and said she notified Blackburn of several issues.

Some of the residents at the Holley Hotel have complained to village officials about the cockroaches and bed bugs, an issue that is difficult to resolve in such a large building with so many residents.

“We’re empathetic to the people who live there,” Mayor Mark Bower said. “But this is a public health hazard. We’re concerned for the residents who live there, and also other residents and businesses who are put at risk.”

The Holley Hotel residents may have spread bed bugs and cockroaches to other businesses and sites in the community, Bower said. Other businesses have shared their concerns with the village officials, Bower said.

“It’s sad for the residents but most of the residents tell us they are happy because their living conditions were intolerable,” Bower said.

The village and Kuba, the code officer, are adhering to the uniform building code, and the violations need to be addressed, Bower said.

“I can’t predict what the situation will end up being,” he said. “It’s in the hands of the building owner at this point.”

One of the hotel residents sent the Orleans Hub a message that the bed bugs and cockroaches were a concern for all residents. This resident said she and her boyfriend were denied housing assistance by DSS and another local agency. They plan to pay for a hotel for two days and then might have to live in their car.

“We have been left homeless for whatever time it’s shut down,” she said.