BY JAMES FARRELL
Residents of the Glen Oaks Village Co-Op gathered with city council candidate Joseph Concannon on Tuesday to raise their voices after going without gas in their homes since Nov. 3.
Concannon and Glen Oaks Village President Bob Friedrich describe being caught in the middle of a bureaucratic mess between Con Edison and the Department of Buildings—with the consequence being nearly a month of relying on electric appliances, Laundromats and restaurants for basic elements of life.
“This is something that should never happen anywhere in the city,” said Concannon. “It is, by far, an example of our crumbling infrastructure here in the city of New York.”
Concannon said that he had been working with residents and heard a range of horror stories—a pregnant woman relying on dining out who is concerned her baby isn’t getting the appropriate nutrition, another lady who keeps burning out her circuit breaker from relying on electric appliances. Many residents had to cancel Thanksgiving plans and fear they will have to do the same for Christmas. A local Laundromat allegedly increased prices because of the increased usage.
“Con Ed, wake up. The city of New York, wake up,” said Concannon. “Get the gas back on here. It is not fair for the residents in this area that they have lost Thanksgiving. Not a one of them were able to prepare their meals with their families, here where they live and where they pay maintenance fees.”
He called for 24-hour, seven-day-a-week coverage of this issue from the Department of Buildings and the city of New York to ensure the issue gets resolved.
According to Friedrich, the problems started on Nov. 3, when a resident reported smelling gas. When Con Edison came to turn off the gas, they broke the valve and had to excavate the street. The community’s plumbing contractor came and repaired the leak.
“On November 4th, this problem was resolved,” said Friedrich.
But instead, Friedrich alleges, new city protocols in the wake of high-profile gas explosions dictate that all gas valves be replaced.
That had to be done in 40 Glen Oaks apartments, even though the valves were in “excellent condition.” After a week of that, there was another two-week process of certifying the work with the Department of Buildings. Now Glen Oaks is coordinating with residents to arrange times for a plumber to visit all the apartments to reconnect the appliances, and will eventually get final approval from Con Edison.
“We are standing here today hoping that the gas will be turned on by Christmas or Hanukah,” said Friedrich.
Linda Berardi lives in one of the houses affected by the lack of gas. She expressed her frustration to the Queens Tribune.
“We have to order out all our food; we have to buy an electric skillet to cook on,” she said. “We had no Thanksgiving, I have my turkey in the freezer, and now we’re not going to have a Christmas. I have Christmas at my house every year.”
On Tuesday after the press conference, a Con Edison spokesperson initially said that the company was waiting for final documentation from Glen Oaks’ plumber that the repairs had been made. The spokesperson later provided an update that things were moving along.
“We performed the integrity test on the customer’s [Glen Oaks’] piping and everything passed,” the spokesperson said. “We are on location working with the customer’s plumber and maintenance people gassing in [turning on] the appliances.”
Elected officials said they had been monitoring the situation.
“My office was made aware of the situation and worked with Con Edison, the buildings department and the property management office to help resolve the matter,” said council member Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens).
A spokesperson from the office of state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) said that he first learned about the issue from a Glen Oaks resident and subsequently called Friedrich to learn more, and that he would continue to monitor the situation.
Reach James Farrell at (718) 357-7400 x 127, firstname.lastname@example.org or @farrellj329.