Bedbugs are again a problem at the Stonequist Apartments, but Saratoga Springs Housing Authority officials say the situation is under control.
“It’s an issue that will never, ever go away,” said Edward Spychalski, executive director of the authority.
Spychalski said the authority’s integrated pest management program has been very successful and the extermination company the authority hired earlier this year has returned to deal with bedbugs in just a few of the 176 apartments at Stonequist.
Late last year, several residents of the federally subsidized apartments on South Federal Street came to a City Council meeting to voice their concerns about what they said was a significant problem with bedbugs. They claimed the housing authority wasn’t doing enough to eradicate the insects that come out from under baseboards and mattresses when it’s dark and bite humans.
The issue was played out in the media, with the authority being widely criticized. The authority stepped up its efforts, developed an integrated pest management program, and hired an exterminator, Town and Country Pest Solutions of Rochester.
Town and Country staff was at Stonequist last week and returned earlier this week.
“They are nipping it in the bud,” said Elizabeth Powers, a Stonequist resident who heard bedbugs were found in just three of the 176 units.
“They were here and they did their job,” said a male resident of Stonequist who asked that his name not be used.
“It was taken care of very quickly. It’s not an infestation,” said Michelle Deyette, another Stonequist resident.
Deyette and others said they were pleased with the way the authority is handling the problem this time.
Spychalski said at Thursday’s Board of Commissioners meeting that the authority signed another six-month contract with Town and Country at a cost of about $18,000.
He said Town and Country staff members provided Stonequist with a “full treatment” last week. He said the only bedbugs currently seen in the building are dead ones.
Spychalski said the authority’s integrated pest management plan is being praised as a model for other public housing buildings.
“It’s a working plan that never stops,” he said.
Commission member Johanna Dushlek said Stonequist residents must report the first sighting of a bedbug to authority maintenance staff as soon as they see it. The maintenance staff has been trained in bedbug control and elimination and is part of the integrated pest management program.
At Thursday’s commission meeting an executive session was held to discuss the request of the majority of full-time and part-time employees to unionize and become a Civil Service Employees Association bargaining unit. After the executive session, Eric Weller, the commission chairman, said the commission has no objection to the 11 employees unionizing. He stressed that the commission did not approve any specific union agreement.
In a letter to Weller and Spychalski, Michael Nickson, a labor relations specialist with CSEA, said the employees asking for union representation include technical, clerical, professional, administrative, supervisory and manual labor and have signed union representation cards with the CSEA. Spychalski, the executive director, would not be part of the union.