By KALEA HALL | firstname.lastname@example.org
Left without a dime in her pocket and no place to call home, Sharon Ritter stood outside the Rodeway Inn peering off into the distance as if in disbelief. She says she has worked more than 80 hours a week for six months at a low hourly wage at the inn, formerly known as the MetroPlex, in a variety of jobs.
On Friday, the owner of the establishment, Indira Periyasamy, evicted some of her employees and a family of six staying at the inn.“I have been running this hotel for her for the past six months,” Ritter said. Ritter’s co-workers, Joe Holmes, Jennifer Wacht and Bryce Hoff, crowded together, encouraging one another to stay strong.
Periyasamy relinquished her operating license with the Ohio Department of Commerce, Division of State Fire Marshal, according to a Liberty official. The state liquor license, which is under the name Aswin Ganapathy, also was pulled; Ganapathy is believed to be Periyasamy’s husband, said Ron Stauffer, Liberty fire investigator. The owner cited Monday’s dryer fire at the hotel as the reason for her closing the business and would not comment any further. The fire was estimated at causing $75,000 in damage and is still under investigation. The state fire marshal and the Liberty Fire Department went through the building before closing it. “It’s her building,” said Stauffer. “[Now] nothing can operate.” Stauffer said the building was up to code and the owner was able to renew her license. “She will have to keep it secure and fire safe,” Stauffer said.
The employees said they were owed money and they were told they would receive what they were owed before they officially were evicted. However, the owner did not pay them, and they said they have decided to take the matter to civil court. “She owes us over $400,” Holmes said. “We don’t even have money for food.” Also affected by the sudden eviction was Roy Hanna, manager of Goodies Grill & Lounge inside the hotel. “It’s a civil matter, and the court [will decide],” Hanna said. “We had about 20 employees that are without a job. She kicked them out and paid them [nothing].”
A few employees lived at the hotel and were evicted along with hotel guests. Hanna took the displaced employees under his wing because they did not have a place to go.“We are trying to get them a place,” Hanna said. “We can’t leave them on the street.” A woman who wished to remain anonymous was staying at the hotel with her four children and husband for the past week. She said she paid for two weeks and the owner would not refund her more than $500. “I don’t understand how someone can do this,” she said. “It’s sad. It’s just so wrong.”
Pat Ungaro, Liberty Township administrator, said he believes the problems associated with the hotel have had to do with the owner’s inability to borrow the money needed to update the facility to the requirements of a good hotel franchise. But Ungaro said he believes the building itself is “solid,” is in a great location and is “a landmark in the Valley.” “I’m optimistic. I think it has everything going for it,” he said. “It has too much potential ... not to turn into a positive story in the end.” Lenders have not been lending in recent years, so that’s one reason she was not able to get the financing to modernize it, he said. “Hopefully, a new owner will come in who can get a banker and we can get a new project,” Ungaro said. One challenge for Liberty Township will be to “keep an eye on” the building to make sure that vandals don’t break in to take out scrap metal, he said.