By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village residents were shocked and dismayed to learn this weekend that tenant names have been removed from all intercoms in all buildings throughout the property.
StuyTown Property Services general manager Rick Hayduk said that tenant names have been removed from all video intercoms, in addition to the resident list that used to be next to the mailboxes, due to privacy concerns.
“Many residents, and at an increasing frequency of late, had requested their names be removed,” Hayduk said. “In light of not only our response to privacy concerns, but the general issue of privacy overall, we made the decision to remove all resident names from public areas.”
The Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association sent an email to residents on Sunday about the sudden change, noting that the disappearance of tenant names has resulted in strangers dialing resident intercoms, missed food deliveries and emergency caregivers needing directions to apartments. Now that tenant names have been removed, only apartment numbers and buzz-in numbers are listed.
The email noted that TA President Susan Steinberg noticed the change when she had visitors over the weekend who couldn’t remember her apartment number and couldn’t look her up on the intercom by name because it was no longer there.
“We’re gobsmacked by this,” Steinberg told T&V on Tuesday. “If they were going to do that, they should have let people know. Yes, some people want anonymity, but many people are not very happy.”
Steinberg added that tenants would have appreciated a survey of residents before management made the decision to remove the names completely.
“They do surveys at the drop of the hat,” she said. “Why couldn’t they do something about this? Tenants were really taken by surprise on this.”
Hayduk said that ultimately management decided not to do a survey because it would have been too complicated to manage the more than 11,000 names as to who wanted their name listed and who didn’t.
“In the world we live in today with privacy concerns in the headlines everyday and with the widespread use of cell phones in particular, we felt residents should convey their apartment number to visitors,” he said. “For the very few without cell phones, they should get the apartment number from the person they’re visiting.”
The TA, however, called the move “tenant unfriendly,” saying in the email sent this week that the idea goes against community-building because it prevents neighbors from finding each other.
Although Hayduk only cited privacy concerns as the reason for both removing names from intercoms and no longer putting tenant names on apartment doors, the TA said that the reason management gave, at least for no longer putting resident names on apartment doors, was that it cost too much.
Hayduk specified that names would no longer be added for new residents but names would only be removed if tenants specifically requested it.
The TA said in the recent email that they had also offered to make the labels themselves, although they acknowledged that some tenants might not opt in due to privacy concerns.