B y Jaime Thomas
The owners of the two buildings that were destroyed in the Nov. 12 fire on Main Street have been doing everything they can to move the cleanup process along. Beverly Koffler, who owns what was her art studio and gallery, has resolved her claim with her insurance company, Attorney John Winn said.
However, Constance Rojcewicz, who owned the adjacent building, is having trouble communicating with her insurance company.
“They took over everything, and they have dragged their feet incredibly. Once the bids came in, everything came to a screeching halt,” Rojcewicz said.
And because the buildings were razed following the fire, it would be nearly impossible for either owner to make independent cleanup efforts.
“As far as I understand, there are regulations to be followed in regards to that. The building that was next to my building is on top of my building,” Koffler said. Winn agreed that it would be difficult for one person to get the pile cleared without the help of the other person, as everything is now mixed together.
Rojcewicz, who lives in Hawaii, is upset with her insurers.
“They take no opinion of mine — nothing. I can’t get over how appalling it is that they can get away with this,” she said, adding that she filed a complaint to the Financial Services Board.
Winn pointed out that it hasn’t actually been that long, in terms of insurance claims, since the fire happened. He thought Koffler’s claim, which took about 75 days, moved along promptly.
“Even though they were distracted by Hurricane Sandy, they processed her loss claim. Quite frankly, it would be surprising if both claims were resolved that quickly,” Winn said.
As far as the presence of asbestos in the rubble, Koffler said she and Rojcewicz are trying to get a waiver. She was told that any building built prior to 1978 is assumed to have asbestos, but because both buildings were since renovated they should be clear.
Both women stressed that their goal is to get the spot cleaned up.
“I’m terribly sorry about that; I fully expected it to be cleaned up before the dead of winter,” she said, and she feels they need to pressure the insurance agency.
“It’s rules and regulations all the way, and you just have to follow them — we’re working towards it. It’s our town too; we want it to look good,” Koffler said.
Though cold weather, snow and ice would make cleanup more difficult, Winn said it should not prevent it from happening.
Mark Friedlander, the spokesman for NGM Insurance Company, which is handling Rojcewicz’s claim, said he could not discuss the details of the claim, but it is in the process of being resolved.