Prairie Park senior apartments

The Prairie Park senior apartment complex on Madison's Southwest Side is without air conditioning just as summer is set to heat up.

Some 10 months after flooding forced the evacuation of a Southwest Side Madison seniors apartment complex, the city is moving to sue the complex’s owner for failing to provide a working air-conditioning system.

Madison building inspector George Hank said Tuesday that he’s referring the case against Greystone & Co., which manages the 98-unit, three-story Prairie Park apartments at 6530 Schroeder Road, to the city attorney’s office. Fines against the New York City-based property management company could be as high as $1,000 a day, he said.

Hank said his office received a complaint June 5 that the air conditioning at Prairie Park was not working, visited the property the next day and issued a verbal notice to have it fixed by Thursday.

Greystone missed that deadline, and Hank said the company is having parts needed for repair shipped from Illinois on July 1.

Greystone spokeswoman Karen Marotta said the system requires a coil replacement and that repairs will begin the first week of July and will take two to three days to complete.

“This is a very large apparatus requiring a crane, and we are working to minimize disruption for residents where possible during this process,” she said.

Apartment buildings in Madison are not required to have air conditioning or certain other basic amenities, such as stoves or refrigerators, but if they are provided, city code requires they be in working order, Hank said.

Hank said his office decided to recommend prosecution because Greystone has missed opportunities to make sure the air-conditioning system was working.

“They basically did not winterize the system last fall,” he said, and did not take “proactive” steps to check it this spring.

He said water in the system’s chiller was not drained with the onset of colder temperatures last year, so when the water froze it expanded and damaged the unit.

Marotta said the cause of the system’s failure is “being investigated by our team.”

“It is our understanding that repairs made following the flood had corrected previous outages,” Marotta said in an email, “and that the system had been functional until recently. We became aware of the issue on 5/28 and we immediately took action to make the necessary repairs.”

Marotta said that while repairs are pending, Greystone is providing “portable air-conditioning units as needed, fans, and a cooling station with refreshments, among other accommodations.

“We are also monitoring the weather and heat levels closely as the safety and well-being of the residents is our first priority,” she said.

It took several weeks for Prairie Park managers to make the property livable again after Aug. 20 storms dumped as many as 15 inches of rain on parts of western Dane County, filling the complex’s garage with five feet of water and knocking out electrical and mechanical systems, including elevators.

Greystone didn’t charge residents for the days they were unable to live in their apartments, and helped cover the costs of their hotel stays and provided $500 checks and “care packages” with household necessities.

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