Frustrated Ridgemont residents await improvements

Frustrated Ridgemont residents await improvements

September 11th, 2010 by Chris Carroll in News

Looking into the black hole in the wall that formerly served as her boyfriend's air conditioning unit, Brittany Scoggins ran out of patience with Ridgemont Apartments.

She and her boyfriend, Christopher McJunkin, had been breathing black mold after apartment maintenance workers left the air conditioning unit half repaired. Scoggins demanded a finished job from management.

Despite a heated Aug. 24 conversation with the property manager that led to the police being called, nothing has changed 17 days later, Scoggins said Friday.

"They haven't fixed it," she said. "It's just a big hole in the wall, still."

About 40 Ridgemont tenants have called Red Bank City Hall this week with similar complaints, reacting to news that the New York-based property owners are slow to inspect "obvious" code violations including black mold and faulty fire alarm systems, officials said.

The apartments are owned by Syracuse, N.Y.-based John Gosnell and Patrick Phelan. John McDougal, the Chattanooga attorney representing the owners, said his clients are working with Red Bank to bring the apartments "up to code."

In a court ruling earlier this week, the pair lost their other Red Bank apartment complex, Cambridge Park, after they failed to pay its water bills or keep up with its maintenance.

On Wednesday, Hamilton County Chancellor Jeff Atherton ruled that a new management company must operate Cambridge Park.

"They definitely don't want Ridgemont to go the same way as Cambridge," McDougal said.

Gosnell and Phelan are accused in court of not making loan payments on Cambridge Park for the last year. They also own Chattanooga's Mountain Brook apartment complex.

In Red Bank, the pair have a history of not paying their water bills, the cost of which is included in rental payments.

The next time that happens, "we will immediately start condemnation proceedings on each and every unit," said Red Bank Public Works Director Wayne Hamill.

In the air conditioning incident, police said Scoggins should have let McJunkin handle it since his name is on the lease. But officers also wrote in their report that the "complaint was legitimate and unattended to" and "made them feel hostage to an unlivable situation."

Hamill and McDougal both said they didn't know if the financier for Ridgemont will foreclose on the property or hire new management.

"We're not out to harm [Gosnell and Phelan]," Hamill said, "But government can do something to improve these conditions and give people a dry place to live and enjoy life without mold and mildew."