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November 2005

Report on Building Services: Rats, Pigeons, Elevators...and much more

IPNTA’s Building Services Committee (BSC) monitors the delivery of services by management to tenants. The disruptions of the last few years, including elevator and window replacement, balcony and plaza renovation, and the renovation of vacant apartments, along with reduced maintenance staff, make our job feel like swimming upstream, but if swimming upstream makes changes, that’s just what we’ll do.

Our tenants have experienced inconvenience to the breaking point. Management needs to hire enough staff to supervise and execute renovations while, at the same time, provide daily maintenance of services so that tenant quality of life is not reduced.

Currently, one Stellar management person is in charge of both jobs, and though he is working hard and tries to accommodate our requests, he is doing double duty. We have requested additional supervisory staff and may need to take stronger action to get it. Remember two years ago and our revolving doormen? It was a member of the BSC who organized the tenant petitions that led to a return to our regular doormen. (Soon after, Mike Grasso, head of security who came up with the revolving doormen concept was let go.) People power.

At present, and until the underlying problem of insufficient staff is remedied, a member of our committee is in almost daily contact with management to address problems as they arise. In addition, the committee meets on a monthly basis with Debbie Dolan, Tobias Sahl, Vinnie Hernandez, and Bill Wallace to make sure that ongoing problems are dealt with in a timely fashion.

A few of the recent problems have been:

Rodents: If a tenant complains about rodents, and management doubts the tenant, we don’t take no for an answer. We were hands on with a couple of apartments that needed holes repaired. We are currently working to address a serious rodent problem at the pizza store near N. Moore.

Pigeon poop: We have heard the tenants’ many complaints and have worked with management to arrange for pigeon deterrents to be placed on the roofs of the townhouses.

Townhouse lighting: Many of the townhouses have received new exterior lights. Other related problems are being addressed.

Plaza repair: Who can say which of the renovations is the most intrusive, but our townhouse neighbors on the North Plaza have been enduring a lot of noise and dust. (The townhouses are ably represented by their VP, Manuel Cabrero, whose report is also in this newsletter.) The BSC regularly tours the plazas to ensure compliance with procedures entailing covering and hosing down dust as well as access during renovations.

Differential heating for different faces of towers: Winter is coming, and we are asking management to supply uniform heating throughout the complex.

Balcony Renovation: Balcony renovation has been completed at 310 and has begun at 40. The evolution of how renovation has progressed illustrates the effectiveness of our committee. When renovations began on the south face of 310, the entire bank of tenants—over 200 apartments--were told in May to remove all articles from the balconies. They were told that repairs would last at least 8 weeks—in fact, they lasted longer—that there was no way to notify single lines in order to reduce inconvenience and waiting times (who wants to live with porch furniture and plants for two months?), and they were given few guidelines on protecting against dust. Tenants were angry; many refused to comply, and at the low point of our dealing with management, many tenants received a threatening note from management’s lawyer. The BSC took immediate action on that one, and all notes from management regarding repairs pass through our committee. (It’s important to state that, from the get go—even as procedures were bumpy, individual reps of management and maintenance provided help for tenants needing assistance in removing terrace articles.)

The BSC worked all summer to iron out the other difficulties. By the time work began on the west face, one line at a time was alerted, there were more guidelines in place for dust protection, tenants complied more quickly thereby speeding up repairs, and inconvenience lasted about 3 weeks, not 3 months. The operation is running even more smoothly at 40 thanks to Vicki Green.

Renovation of new apartments: Some floors are on their fifth renovation. (There were three in the past year on my hall, so I know first hand what it’s like.) For a while, the BSC had guidelines in place to reduce tenant inconvenience. These faded over time, and we are currently revving thom up. They include: timely notification of renovations to apartments on either side and above and below the target apartment, daily vacuuming of carpets around apartment being renovated, and compliance with building codes. (Try taking a nap on Sunday to be awakened by cannon fire next door. We are vigilantly working to reduce such aberrations.) We are currently trying to arrange the shampooing of carpets after all renovations on a floor are completed to take care of the ground-in dirt and mildew from leaks created when workers leave water faucets on.

Elevators: 310 and 80 are just emerging from a month of reduced elevator service with one elevator down and others in continuous use by maintenance and workmen. The rush hours of 8 to 8:30 in the morning have been maddening for tenants who have to get to work or school. Now that all elevator banks have been restored to service, management’s guidelines are: 1) no workmen doing renovations are to use any elevator but the one designated for their purpose, and doormen are required to make them adhere to that guideline, and 2) building maintenance, i.e., trash collection, which ties up another elevator line, will not take place before 9:30 when the morning rush is over.

This is just a brief summary of our interactions with management on your behalf. Those of you who have contacted us know that we get back to you. If you have any problems that fall into the category of building services, first, call maintenance and try to get a work order. If you cannot get satisfactory results, call Tobias Sahl in management’s office. If you need more assistance, please drop a note into your lobby box (with your contact info so we can call you) or e-mail vclammer@aol.com or vicki40harrison@aol.com. We can’t work miracles, but we can swim upstream.

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