By Sabina Mollot
For years, one of residents’ top quality of life complaint in Stuyvesant Town had to do with the complex’s laundry facilities — specifically that the machines installed during the Tishman Speyer era are prone to breakdowns. And, based on the finding of recent, tenant volunteer-led inspections of numerous laundry rooms, it appears that not much has changed.
In addition to washers and dryers that are frequently out of order, residents also said management isn’t always quick to make repairs of the machines that the company that services the machines, Mac-Gray, isn’t either. Other complaints include a lack of signage when machines are broken, dirty and sometimes stinky laundry rooms and missing carts, due to tenants sometimes taking them, which is against the rules, and not returning them.
The results were released by the ST-PCV Tenants Association after 48 volunteers surveyed 42 buildings in August, for a total of 95 individual reports. Based on their experiences, on the dates surveyed, a total of 147 washers and 102 dryers were not functioning, some for several days at a clip.
“The condition of the laundry rooms is generally deplorable,” the TA found. “Filthy floors, lint filters that have not been cleaned out, standing water in the washers, laundry detergent spilled all over the machines or floor, and no signs posted on machines that are nonfunctioning. Calling Mac-Gray — which many volunteers did as part of this survey in addition to tenants’ calls — to report machines that were down was a frustrating and typically useless exercise, mostly yielding little result. If the volunteer called and complained to STPCV maintenance, they were told to call Mac-Gray; Mac-Gray said to call maintenance.”
Broken machines was still the number one complaint.
“It’s the primary thing — the machines aren’t working,” said Susan Steinberg, chair of the ST-PCV Tenants Association. “My laundry’s been going out for the past two years, because I won’t deal with it, but I’ve been hearing from tenants.” On the lack of signage, “They used to put up signs when they were out of order,” she said.
Other complaints, at few individual buildings, were of extreme instances of filth or malfunctioning machines.
A few of those cited by volunteers were:
At 15 Stuyvesant Oval: Floor drain spits up dirty sewer-smelling water. Room smells bad. Money card machine is frequently out of order. The room has not been cleaned in more than a month.
At 321 Avenue C: Sometimes all washers and dryers are out of service, despite calls from tenants. At 4 Stuyvesant Oval: There are always at least two washers and dryers out of order. The laundry room is dirty, leaky, smelly and occasionally infested with roaches and flies.
At 455 East 14th Street: The electricity plugs for four washers were out and could not be used for 3-4 weeks. They were replaced with newer machines that are not commercial grade appropriate for the tenants’ needs. All machines in the laundry room are now the newer machines. They were installed approximately 2-3 months ago and are already having problems and need repairs. Students are using laundry carts to move from one apartment to another.
5 Stuyvesant Oval: Volunteer said that after calling Mac-Gray every week for three weeks, the response is always that they are sending someone tomorrow. ST/PCV maintenance said they would call Mac-Gray. Followup emails and tweets from the tenant got no response.
In addition, “When people move out, we have four carts or less.” Though not mentioned in the report, another tenant concern, said Steinberg, is confusion over whose responsibility it is to clean laundry rooms, in part due to, she admitted, tenants who are slobs. “We’ve been hearing that the porters now how have to clean out the filters,” she said. “It used to be individual tenants. This doesn’t go on anymore.”
Steinberg said the TA has a meeting with reps from CWCapital in a couple of weeks, and naturally, the state of the laundry rooms will be on the agenda.
In the meantime, she noted that tenants also have to do their part to keep the laundry rooms tidy. “Tenants also have a responsibility to do what they can,” said Steinberg. “Don’t leave laundry overnight. Take it out in a timely fashion and try and keep the laundry room clean. The fact that they’re filthy is because of the tenants. Take a little responsibility.” She added, “The carts are a bummer. They are totally misused by people who don’t care to pack up their cars. There’s a lot that needs to be corrected by management or whomever.”
In some positive results, the new machines installed at Peter Cooper buildings where basements were damaged by Hurricane Sandy haven’t gotten too many complaints. “They tend to be more reliable than the old ones,” said Steinberg of the Wascomat models, which are also maintained by Mac-Gray.
CWCapital and Mac-Gray didn’t respond to requests for comment.