It goes down. More important, it finally goes up.
The elevator at Tacoma’s McKinley Terrace apartments is working again. Ben Bymers couldn’t be happier. On Friday, he took his first breath of air outdoors since July 3.
“I just sat there to be outside,” said Bymers, 78. “Just sat there thinking to myself how much more freedom I have. It’s a good feeling.”
Bymers has a lung disease. He lives on the second floor. Stairs are too much for him. Other elderly tenants in the three-story complex on East I Street use walkers. They’ve been stuck indoors since early summer, when the old elevator gasped, clanked and gave up.
A Bellevue company, United Marketing Inc., manages the complex, which receives federal housing subsidies. Company representatives weren’t available for comment Friday. Bymers said he spoke to a company representative, who said the problem was a broken pump.
State inspectors examined the elevator in May and ordered fixes within 90 days, said Dana Botka, spokeswoman for the state Department of Labor and Industries. However, the elevator broke down before the 90-day deadline.
“It was a very old elevator to begin with, installed in the 1960s,” Botka said. “The circuit boards had shorted out.”
Fixing the broken pump wasn’t good enough. It didn’t meet state standards. Replacement parts – a new controller, door operator and motor – were hard to find. United Marketing had promised tenants the elevator would be fixed earlier this week, but it took a bit longer.
For Bymers, the process mattered less than the result. The simple act of going outside, taking out his own garbage, was a blessing.
“I can go down and just walk the streets,” he said. “I can go out and have lunch or dinner.”