Letters to the editor, Feb. 2

The pain of appealing at East Midtown Plaza

The front-page headline article on January 26, “Court says pro-privatization EMP residents can appeal,” makes it sound like EMP residents are jumping for joy about continuing in courts to pursue privatization, the conversion that was rejected three years ago by vote of the shareholders.

Since then (January, 2009), without  authorization, EMP’s board of directors has dipped freely into the co-op’s operating funds to pay attorneys to petition to override the shareholders’ vote – and lose, then appeal and lose again, and now to appeal again.

They have continued to press on in the courts despite good conscience, business sense and shareholders’ objections and petitions that should have caused them to quit wasting our funds on the futile pursuit of personal profit.  Yet they persist.

Below the happy-sounding headline, there is plenty of misinformation.  For example, no matter what Alan Kahn says, pro-Mitchell-Lama cooperators have not cost the co-op a penny to deal with the building code violations arising from the installation of balcony doors that are inaccessible to the disabled and hazardous for the able.  Protests began when only three doors had been installed, but the board ignored the protests until 300 more were put in place and the Dept. of Buildings issued a Stop Work Order. The board also ignored orders from the Commissioner of Buildings to fix the doors.  Six Environmental Control Board hearings were scheduled in 2011 regarding these doors, but the board did not appear or send a representative to any one of the hearings; the architects sent a representative to one hearing.

The co-op was penalized $800 per door for allowing installation of doors that, as the architects admitted to the ECB, violate the NYC Building Code.  The irony of the situation is that the injuries caused by the doors have been suffered by able-bodied residents.  Limited-mobility folks are in less danger because they can’t get through the door; they have simply been cut off from their balconies, for which they pay 10 percent of their monthly charges.

Yes, the two incumbent board members were returned to office in December’s board election, and the board’s choice of a third candidate was elected.  EMP has had an entrenched board since 2005; they run the elections, have disbanded almost all of the shareholder committees, discourage resident participation in the co-op’s affairs, and suppress challenges by threatening to adjourn a meeting if anyone speaks from the floor.  They have also promised to make everyone rich by going private. The playing field in our co-op community is as uneven as the unsightly plaza this board has allowed to crack and subside.  The will of the shareholders is not easy to discern, but it is not joy that we will spend many more months and another extravagant amount of our “maintenance” charges to pay attorneys to oppose our vote.

Jeanne S. Poindexter, EMP

Let’s get the Doe Fund Crew in ST/PCV

Having lived in PCV for 38 years, we find the level of litter of all kinds on the lawns, in the planting beds, even ringing the garbage bins throughout the complex to be totally unacceptable.

Broken glass, bottle caps, uneaten food, paper wrappers, cigarette butts, endless varieties of nutshells etc. have become the typical ground cover. The expanses of lawn behind the buildings near Avenue C are particularly grungy with all kinds of litter plus huge piles of dog poop most likely from non-community dogs whose owners think nothing of making our lawns their own.

So where is our grounds crew during the winter months? One particular member whizzes around PCV with his big cart with a picker-upper tool that never seems to get used.  When I followed him recently around PCV and watched how he did nothing about all the litter in his path, I asked him why he wasn’t picking up obvious litter. His response while puffing on a cigarette:

“It’s not my job, do bins.” Surely that cannot truly be his only responsibility.

Where are the supervisors whose responsibility should be an awareness of the mounting litter and the lack of regular cleanup?
On the other hand the Doe Fund crew managers instill in their men a work ethic that is unequalled. For these men starting out on a cleaning crew is the first step for them to raise themselves up in the organization from a former life of addictions and crime to getting housing and job training to become a productive member of society. What a great job they could do in our community!

All of the amenities that management is currently promoting: ice rink, lounges, health club, etc. lose their luster if walking around our community we are all visually assaulted by litter everywhere.

The Brown Family, PCV

Guterman co-op conversion in 1980’s

Dear Editor,

I live in a building near ST/PCV which was co-oped by Gerald Guterman and a partner (Coronet Properites Co.) in the early 1980’s. It was a non-eviction plan for our totally rent controlled/stabilized building. It was successful in April, 1984 (i.e. minimum number of apartments bought at the insider price). Mr. Guterman or his partners continued to own the unsold apartments and were responsible for the duties of a landlord.

That included paying the co-op maintenance fee, which was almost always more than the regulated rents.

Mr. Guterman executed this co-oping process in at least one other building in Manhattan. He made continuing efforts to sell the unsold apartments. Circa 1987 Mr. Guterman and partners declared bankruptcy.
It turned out they were very heavily leveraged. They were probably affected by the 1986 laws that removed some tax advantages.

The banks that had loaned Guterman et. al. to do the conversions then owned the unsold apartments (collateral, I assume) but tried every which way to not assume landlord responsibility.  There followed years and years of lawyers on all sides and some court actions.

In our building, in March of 1991, one of the banks auctioned the empty apartments they owned on the steps of the Court House (Law and Order steps). In November, 1991 a “bulk auction” of 26 apartments that at one time had been owned by Mr. Guterman were sold for a very low price.

The new owner agreed to assume responsibility for paying the monthly shortfalls to the co-op board and to maintain the apartments. This has been done.

Now, in 2012, Mr. Guterman has a different partner. Some people change. Some people don’t change. According to Webster, caveat emptor means “The buyer takes the risk of quality upon himself.”  It seems to me the residents of ST/PCV must proceed very carefully.

Name withheld, Gramercy

One thought on “Letters to the editor, Feb. 2

  1. It is sad to read stories about people opting to take the money and run. The thought of a city where a teacher, a social worker etc will be priced out of experiencing pride of ownership in a city they serve is so very discouraging.

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