Exclusive: Turn To Tara team tours aftermath of Spring Valley apartment fire with new task force

The head of the newly formed Rockland County Office of Building and Codes is striving to turn things around when it comes to living conditions in Spring Valley - and he gave the Turn To Tara team an exclusive, closeup tour of one of the task forces inspections.

News 12 Staff

Mar 18, 2022, 2:31 AM

Updated 757 days ago

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The head of the newly formed Rockland County Office of Building and Codes is striving to turn things around when it comes to living conditions in Spring Valley - and he gave the Turn To Tara team an exclusive, closeup tour of one of the task forces inspections. 

So far, the office has cracked down on a number of illegitimate properties, including an illegal boarding home on George Street that housed more than a dozen people and an illegal nightclub running out of a print shop on Grove Street. 

It is also investigating a fire last week at Country Village Towers that broke out during treacherous winter storm conditions, leaving four people hospitalized and hundreds displaced. 

The Turn To Tara team took a tour of the apartment complex, and was able to survey the damage up close. 
Throughout the day, News 12's cameras rolled as hundreds of code violations and signs of neglect were discovered - from a lack of smoke detectors in the bedroom to illegally constructed rooms - and even broken doors.

The inspectors were even more shocked to uncover the condition of the main water supply for the building. They also discovered a stunning observation at the actual apartment where the fire broke out.

Inspectors found that the apartment's door was wooden and not metal, which is required by code.  This raises questions whether it could have contributed to the fire.

News 12 also learned that the building was last inspected in 2019 and that the owners of the building were cited for multiple violations at the time. The violations required immediate repairs within 30 days.

However, Spring Valley officials never came back. When asked who was at fault, no definitive answer was given.

It's the latest example of lax code enforcement News 12 has been fighting to expose in Spring Valley for more than a decade.

But now, there's a new safety effort led by Rockland County Executive Ed Day and the head of Buildings and Code, Edward Arkunas. 

Arkunas leads the new task force at the Rockland County Office of Buildings and Codes that is overseeing the Spring Valley Building Department, following a first-of-its kind takeover order issued by New York state officials last year.

"Why are we standing in this building with hundreds of residents that have outstanding violations, and nothing happens for years?" Arkunas asks.

It's not the first time. Last year, a deadly fire erupted at a Spring Valley nursing home.

Volunteer firefighter Jared Llyod lost his life in the flames.

 While nothing can bring Lloyd back, the hope is Spring Valley will become a safer place to call home in the future - one inspection at a time.  


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