Following an argument yesterday between a tenant and a workman, Cambridge's building commissioner ordered workmen from Harvard Real Estate (HRE) to stop working over stairs in the Harvard-owned Ware St. apartments without adequate safety precautions.
The construction men working at the apartment did not use a canopy over the set of stairs to protect tenants from falling debris. City Building Commissioner Joseph J. Sellucci said yesterday. He threatened to bar the contractors from Cambridge if the tenants complain again.
But the workmen continued to work without a canopy after Sellucci ordered them to stop, a resident in the building said yesterday. And several other tenants said they had seen workmen sweeping debris from a set of stairs several hours after Sellucci had left.
The workmen could have exercised more caution, but it is difficulty to eliminate all danger from any construction job, said David A. Zewinski, a spokesman for HRE.
Sellucci visited the Ware St. apartment to investigate the complaint of Robert Epstein, a resident of the building who said yesterday he was struck on the head by debris falling from the window that workmen were replacing.
Epstein complained to the workmen and an argument followed, he said.
Two workmen "surrounded" him and one of them, Daniel Giatrelis--and HRE employee--said he would assault Epstein if he interfered further with their work, Epstein said.
Giatrelis acknowledged the the threat but claimed that Epstein was the aggressor, Epstein added, saying he filed a complaint against the workman yesterday.
But Zewinski said Giatrelis did not threaten Epstein, but was himself abused by the tenant, adding that Epstein "poked Giatrelis in the chest and shoved him," Zewinski said.
Many tenants are upset about the installation of the new thermopine windows, which they feel will raise their rent unnecessarily in the rent controlled apartment, Mark A. Otterman, a tenant, said yesterday. Otterman added that many tenants believe Harvard is bullying them into accepting the windows and the consequent rent increases despite the less expensive options that were open to HRE for repairing the windows.