Portage officials close Travel Inn due to fire safety concerns

2013-01-22T18:15:00Z 2013-05-16T17:48:12Z Portage officials close Travel Inn due to fire safety concernsJoyce Russell joyce.russell@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2222 nwitimes.com

PORTAGE | Mikki Jovanovic said she had no idea when she came to work Tuesday that it would be her last day as manager at Travel Inn.

City officials came to the motel at 6101 U.S. 20 Tuesday morning and said they were shutting down the motel at 5 p.m. due to numerous fire code violations.

"Nobody knew anything," Jovanovic said Tuesday afternoon.

Most of the customers at the motel were students in a truck driving school. Jovanovic said there were 18 residents living at the Travel Inn and by mid afternoon most had found new lodging.

Nina Rivas, chief of staff for the Portage Township Trustee's office, said they were working to secure temporary housing for any residents left displaced.

Jovanovic said 20 employees, including herself, would be without a job when the city shuttered the motel.

Portage Fire Department Inspector Chris Kender said the city has been working with the owners for months. They have been cited since April for various violations including non-functioning or maintained fire alarms, non-compliant fire doors and missing or non-maintained fire extinguishers. Owners had paid fines, but never corrected the issues.

Kender, Code Enforcement Officer John Siroky and Building Commissioner Doug Sweeney met Tuesday morning and decided to shut down the motel. Sweeney issued the order.

Siroky said citations were issued to the owner, Sand Pointe Hospitality, Inc., in April, June and November of 2012.

"There are some fire code violations severe enough that they are a hazard," Kender said, adding they determined it was time to act before there was a fire and a tragedy at the building.

"Until they are compliant with the fire code, they can't use the building," Kender said.

The owner of the building is not clear. While Sand Pointe Hospitality is listed by city officials as the owner, the property went up for sheriff's sale on Jan. 16 and was sold to Ciena Capitol LLC, according to Porter County Sheriff's Department records. A message to an Indianapolis law firm representing the company was not returned.

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