BY PAUL LEIGHTON
---- — BEVERLY — The Greycroft Inn will officially cease to exist as a rooming house on Monday, but the fate of its 15 residents is still unknown.
The City Council last week voted not to renew Greycroft owner Wesley Oprzedek’s rooming house license due to repeated problems, culminating with a Feb. 6 SWAT team raid that led to the arrest of a resident on drug and gun charges.
The current license expires on Sunday, but Mayor Bill Scanlon said the residents will be given a “period of time” to find someplace else to live.
“I don’t think anything happens Monday,” he said.
Scanlon said if the city doesn’t see progress on residents moving out, it would likely take Oprzedek to court and force him to start eviction proceedings.
“Hopefully it will be a civilized process,” Scanlon said.
Another possibility is for Oprzedek to sell the house to another rooming house operator. The building, located at 68 Dane St. near Dane Street Beach, is on the market with an asking price of $995,000.
James Mears, a lawyer who represented Oprzedek before the City Council, did not return calls seeking comment.
City councilors voted unanimously to deny the Greycroft a new license after years of complaints from neighbors about noise, rowdiness and crime at the rooming house.
The City Council had given Oprzedek a three-month extension on his license in December with the stipulation that he hire a resident manager and conduct criminal background checks.
Less than two months later, a SWAT team raided the house and arrested Roland Masse, 36, on charges of trafficking in cocaine, possession of a firearm without a license, possession of ammunition and other charges. Police said they called in the SWAT team because Masse had a potentially dangerous pit bull in the house.
The impending expiration of the rooming house license has left residents anxious and uncertain about their future, said Scott Turpel, who has lived at Greycroft Inn for six years.
Turpel, a 51-year-old house painter, said he has nowhere else to go. He said he has no family in the area, no transportation, and would have trouble finding a place like Greycroft, where the rent ranges from $600 to $700 per month.
“I can’t just all of a sudden up and leave,” he said. “I don’t want to be put out on the street.”
Ward 2 Councilor Wes Slate said it’s unfortunate that residents who have done nothing wrong are caught up in the dilemma. But he said Oprzedek gave them no choice by failing to comply with the conditions that had been set by the council, including conducting criminal background checks.
“That’s the most upsetting part of this,” Slate said. “As a result of actions we took, because of the absolute lack of responsibility of the owner, some people who were not guilty of anything could find themselves evicted.
“But that’s not going to happen Sunday night or Monday morning,” he said. “It’ll be handled properly. No one wants to see people thrown out on the street.”
Scanlon said he also sympathizes with the residents’ plight. But after years of problems at the rooming house, he said, “I sympathize with the neighbors, too.”
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or email@example.com.