BY YVETTE BROWN
It has been eight weeks and residents of an Astoria co-op are still without hot water or gas.
On Monday morning, Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) and Public Advocate Letitia James were joined by the shareholders and occupants of Acropolis Gardens on a rally to restore the shortages.
Residents of the co-op have been without these utilities since late April. Since then, only two of the eight buildings have had their utilities restored.
After a fire occurred in one of the buildings, Con Edison shut off the gas to eight of the 16 buildings within the complex as a safety precaution. According to a spokesman at the rally, Con Ed hasn’t turned the gas back on due to internal pipe issues. “The service was shut off to several of the buildings because of unauthorized, improper hookups that violate building codes,” said the spokesman. “Gas was shut off for the safety of the residents. We’ll continue working with the city to make restorations as proper repairs are made.”
Steve Osman, CEO of Metropolitan Pacific Properties, claims that Con Ed is the source of the issue.
“We had a small fire in the laundry room –the firemen were great, they came right away,” said Osman. “They called Con Edison to turn off the gas to the dryers.”
But then things got messy.
“Con Ed goes around looking in basements and they see that the gas pipes look like they were just cut and he touches the pipes and says, ‘look it’s still wet.”
Osman said that wasn’t true.
“It’s scary that he doesn’t understand the products that used for gas pipes, the product is made to never dry, always stay tacky so it doesn’t crack,” he insisted.
“Why don’t they turn off all 16 if there was a problem? There was no problems, Con Ed made the problem.”
Osman explained that once the burners are replaced, the heat and hot water should be restored
While the blame game is being played by management and Con Ed, James explained that enough is enough.
“These are rent-paying tenants who pay their rent on time every month, so it should not have to take a press conference to have things happen,” she said. “We have to work together to fix this problem and there have been enough recriminations, enough of the blame game. Fix the problem and fix it now.”
The residents of the co-op claim problems have been surfacing for at least five years now and calling management hasn’t been working.
“I made countless complaints, but they fall upon deaf ears. There’s no board here, there’s no respect, there’s nothing,” Nicholas Alexander, a resident of five years, said. “This is everyday having to take a cold shower, every single day no gas, you can’t cook, it’s a slap in the face. Living here is like living in a war zone.”
With no solutions in the works, the elected officials have encouraged the residents and shareholders of the complex to stop pointing fingers and begin writing to Con Ed and management with the issues at hand. One occupant was just happy that the issue was receiving media attention.
“I just want to be able to cook dinner for my kids and give them a shower and just take care of my kids,” said Daniel Jagger, a resident. “I don’t know who to contact anymore, I’m just glad [the media] is here to help us out today.”