By Sabina Mollot
As part of the construction of the new management office in Stuyvesant Town, four buildings on First Avenue had their power shut down for a day. The power shutdown for buildings 276 and 278 First Avenue on Thursday, April 3 and at 272 and 274 First Avenue on Tuesday, April 8 was announced ahead of time by CWCapital in a notice to affected residents. The reason, management explained, was to upgrade the electrical switchboard in the buildings. In the notice residents were warned to “prepare for the loss of power” by shutting off unnecessary appliances and keeping their refrigerators closed from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The power shutdown also affected elevators, though emergency hall lights remained on and a Public Safety officer was stationed at the building sites.
As expected, the shutdown didn’t last beyond the scheduled time. However, the residents who were personally impacted by the work were naturally not happy about having to spend the day in the dark.
One resident, Beth Torin, told T&V, “The power shutdown at 276 was not only a major inconvenience but dangerous as our intercom was knocked out for Thursday and most of Friday.” She added that her cable, internet and phone “crashed” due to a power surge “with sparks burning out the cable box.”
Mark Thompson, who also lives in one of the buildings, said he thought the shutdown should have been handled differently. “While the work was necessary it was wrong for management to shut down electricity to tenants – many of them elderly – and force them to simply sit there without electricity for an entire day,” he said.
Thompson also wondered why management didn’t just rent a generator. “It would have been safer and more humane,” he said, adding, “It’s time to stop abusing people.”
That sentiment was shared by Council Member Dan Garodnick, who said he thought residents should be reimbursed for any food that went bad in their fridges as a result of the loss of power.
“It is not a good practice to shut off power in individual units for non-emergency work,” said Garodnick, “without offering people a way to recover things they will inevitably lose.”
The City Council member also said, in a letter to CWCapital Asset Management Vice President Andrew MacArthur, that he thought management should abate rents in those apartments for the day as well as compensate them for food.
“Please advise residents how they should document any losses, such as with photographs and/or receipts,” he wrote last Wednesday, a day before the scheduled work.
In response to the letter, a Brian Moriarty, a rep for CWCapital said management understood the concerns, but, he added, the work was necessary.
“We tried to mitigate the disruption by arranging for temporary power to keep elevators and common area lights operating,” Moriarty told T&V.
“We also provided a week’s notice so residents could plan accordingly. We were only contacted by a small handful of residents who had special needs and we worked with those residents to make appropriate accommodations.”