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.
In recent weeks, residents in Peter Cooper Village have either seen new video intercom systems installed in their buildings or received notice that the work will begin soon. Although a bunch of buildings have had the project completed already, management’s been mostly mum on the issue, declining to discuss the intercoms themselves.
However, at least one PCV resident gave T&V a review of the new product, saying he liked the old system better. Because, explained Council Member Dan Garodnick, the intercom that was recently installed in his apartment can only be used by the front door.
“I don’t like it as much as I like being able to pick up my phone wherever I am in my apartment to let someone in the door,” said Garodnick. “With two little kids running around, I like being able to pick up the cordless phone wherever I am.”
Another resident in a building that had recently gotten a notice that work would soon begin said residents still haven’t been told what day the project would start. She added that she and neighbors wanted to know since the installation requires worker access to individual apartments.
Last week, T&V asked management about dates and on Friday, Brian Moriarty, a rep for CWCapital, said tenants would receive at minimum five business days notice before work begins at their buildings. “Management will post an initial notice indicating the commencement of work in the common areas and will provide a subsequent notice in advance of the apartment installation that includes the date of installation and contact information to ask follow up questions,” Moriarty said.
The intercoms were installed first, last year, at a couple of buildings that were Sandy damaged. A resident at 7 Peter Cooper Road said overall the new intercom works well, though, thanks to the screen, everyone at the door appears to have a huge nose.
Another resident at 8 Peter Cooper Road said the intercoms are hard to use because it takes a while to scroll to find the person’s name. “You have to be a rocket scientist and delivery people don’t want to spend the time,” he said.
As to whether or not the work will mean another major capital improvement increase (MCI) for tenants, there’s no way to know for sure until an application is filed with the Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR). However, residents have gotten MCIs for intercoms in the past.
The Tenants Association said this week that it is looking into the possibility.
“We acknowledge tenants’ concerns about the new intercoms, the quality of their installation, and whether they will be subject to an MCI,” said TA Chair Susan Steinberg.
Meanwhile, the TA has also been attempting to figure out its next steps with regards to two MCIs that it had been attempting to fight through the DHCR. The DHCR had recently rejected the TA’s arguments against the MCIs, which were for roof and elevator work in Stuyvesant Town. As a result, retroactive portions of those MCIs are now collectible.
“The Tenants Association and its attorney are evaluating the DHCR decisions and are concerned about what could be procedural irregularities,” Steinberg told T&V. “We hope to have more information soon.”
Frank Scala, at a recent Tenants Association meeting, discusses how his gold watch went missing. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
During a string of burglaries a year ago in Stuyvesant Town, when someone who may have been working for the property stole jewelry from apartments, longtime resident Frank Scala’s was one of them.
Only in his case, when a gold watch was stolen, it was returned.
Though it’s a year later, the incident was clearly fresh in Scala’s mind when he discussed it at a Tenants Association meeting on May 10.
Scala, who owns the La Scala barber shop on Fifth Avenue, is also a community activist, serving as the president of 13th Precinct Community Council and the Albano Republican Club.
He brought up the burglary during a Q&A period, though the only answer he got was the stunned silence of his neighbors in the audience.
According to Scala, the incident occurred on the day that work was being done on his apartment’s intercom. He hadn’t particularly wanted to let anyone in his home while he was at work, but the intercom work wasn’t optional.
So naturally, Scala was shocked to discover when he came home later that day that his gold watch was missing. He’d noticed it was gone when he’d opened a drawer looking for something else. Two gold rings and another watch, this one just a knockoff of a Rolex design, were also missing.
Scala, who’s now 75, called Public Safety and the police.
Then, said Scala, a week after the incident, he returned home from work to find the watch, inside a plastic grocery store bag that was hanging off his doorknob.
He said he wasn’t completely surprised about this as the watch, while valuable with platinum and diamond accents, had his name engraved inside. “You can’t sell it because it’s unique,” he told Town & Village. The rings, he added, were never returned.
Adding insult to injury, said Scala, is that the work that was done on his intercom was never completed. “There’s been a hole in the wall where the intercom used to be.”
This week, a detective at the 13th Precinct said the case is closed since the watch was found. A spokesperson for CWCapital declined to comment.
Last May, four burglaries were reported, each one at buildings in Stuyvesant Town where repairs were being made on the intercoms. Scala’s is one of them. The burglar or burglars, who never left any sign of forced entry, took thousands of dollars worth of expensive gold jewelry in each apartment hit. The pattern stopped, however, after a master key was taken away from the contractors doing the work.
Stuyvesant Town Security Chief Bill McClellan and General Manager Sean Sullivan address residents at a town hall meeting on Tuesday. Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
General Manager Sean Sullivan hosted a town hall meeting for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village residents last Tuesday, the first such meeting in a number of years. Sullivan noted at the beginning of the meeting that its purpose was an informal gathering to talk with seniors about residential programming and the community center, but it quickly became clear that residents had other things on their minds. Security issues, Sandy-related problems and the rising student population were some of the main concerns of tenants at the meeting.
In light of the keycard failures during Sandy, one resident asked Sullivan at the beginning of the meeting if it would be possible to put regular cylinders with physical keys back on apartment doors.
“You may not like some of my responses but I’m going to try to be straight with you tonight,” Sullivan said. “The short answer is no. It’s a system that we put in place and it works. (Sandy) was an extraordinary moment in time and we took extraordinary measures.” Residents responded to this, frustrated, saying the system obviously does not work if it failed for so long after the storm, but Sullivan noted that Sandy was not a typical scenario. “Battery backup for the keycard system will work in a typical outage,” he said.
In addition to the keycard failures, other residents noted that the emergency lights in the stairwells failed as well. Sullivan said that there is a battery backup for these as well but they did not last as long as the outage because they were only meant to be used for hours at a time, not days. When tenants specified that there were cases in which the lighting did not even last for hours after the blackout, Sullivan said that he wasn’t aware of this issue and would look into it.
Many Peter Cooper Village residents were on hand at the meeting to express frustrations about the lack of laundry services, as well as the partial elevator service that still exists in some of the buildings.
“My husband is in a wheelchair. We waited two and a half hours because the one elevator was out (a couple weeks ago),” one resident said. “You can keep your memos about the landscaping. Restoring elevator service should be your number one priority. All we’ve got is reassurances and no definitive information.”
After heckling from other meeting attendees about the lack of a concrete date, Sullivan said the hope is that all elevator service will be restored by the end of this month, and attempted to explain why the process has been so lengthy.
“They’re not broken, they’re gone,” he said. “The workers are rebuilding the elevators in the shaft from scratch. We were fortunate to get in the queue. There were a lot of manufacturers that stopped taking orders because the need was just so high (after Sandy). There is no profit for us to move any slower on this.”
As for laundry, service for residents without it in Peter Cooper Village will still have a few months to wait.
“We’ve said that laundry service would be fully restored by September of this year. I’m not changing their timeline but we are trying to do better than that,” he said. “We’re focused on restoring these services. We don’t want you to be frustrated, but the damage was significant and severe. I understand the level of frustration and I don’t want to diminish it for a moment. We’re working on it. It’s not a great solution but we’re doing our best.”
Although noise and late-night rowdiness from the community’s younger population has been a recent complaint of many residents in this newspaper’s letters to the editor, residents at the meeting were more bothered by the transient nature of students in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. The constant moving in and out of short-term tenants was a point of concern for those at the meeting. Some residents noted that it even becomes a frustrating security issue because building doors have been propped open while people are moving. “It happens every month, sometimes in the middle of the month as well,” one resident said at the meeting. “When I bring it up to them, security says, ‘oh it’s fine.’ But it’s not fine. It’s a safety issue.”
ST/PCV Security Chief Bill McClellan said that alarms are set to go off if a door has been propped open for three minutes. They’ve also sent people to close doors and tell movers that they can’t prop the doors open, but residents at the meeting were frustrated that this was not helping, one noting that she had told movers herself not to prop the door open and the mover cursed at her.
A resident of 541 East 20th Street said that she was concerned about safety issues as well after maintenance had entered her apartment to install an intercom without notice or permission, and was especially disturbed after hearing about the reports of burglaries in the community.
Sullivan said that maintenance is supposed to reach out to tenants beforehand and for tenants that don’t respond, maintenance may come back multiple times to deal with these exceptions. After not specifically addressing the resident’s situation, other attendees at the meeting became frustrated, yelling while Sullivan attempted to move on to another question.
In response to concerns about the thefts possibly being related to recent maintenance work, Sullivan added that public safety is supposed to escort outside contractors to the apartments to supervise but otherwise had no information about why this incident occurred at the building on East 20th Street.
In some of the less contentious moments of the evening, Sullivan did announce that the gym is expected to reopen in just a few weeks.
He also noted, to the appreciation of the tenants at the meeting, that the doors in the community center would be replaced by automatic sliding doors, similar to those in supermarkets, because there have been issues with seniors walking into the doors or having difficult getting them open.
The following is a property alert emailed to residents of Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village by CompassRock this morning. The memo includes status reports on ongoing repairs and also said tenants will get an extra 15 percent on their rent abatement for days without heat and power. It also warns tenants their last rent checks may have been destroyed by the storm and not processed.
PROPERTY UPDATE 12.5.12
We continue to work diligently on restoration efforts throughout the property. Below please find updates of recent progress. We will continue to update you on additional progress and restoration timelines.
Gas Service: We are pleased to announce that all gas service was restored as of last Friday.
PCV Heat Distribution System and Water Pumps: Parts of Peter Cooper Village are still experiencing above normal heat at times and reduced water pressure due to the damage sustained to these systems. Necessary parts to repair these two systems are expected to arrive on-site by next week. We will provide a more detailed timeline as soon as it becomes available. Rent Abatement: In addition to the previously announced abatement for days without electricity, heat or elevator service, we will also be providing a 15% rent abatement for each additional day a unit did not have gas service beyond when all other utilities were restored. Rent abatements will appear on your January rent bill. Rent Bills: Your opening and closing balances may be higher than anticipated in your most recent bill since checks you remitted previously may have been destroyed by flooding during the storm and not processed. Please confirm with your bank that these payments were not processed, and issue payment for your total outstanding balance. If you cancel your prior payment and provide documentation of the bank fee for this service, we will refund the bank fee by issuing a credit on your next month’s rent statement. For all additional questions, please email email@example.com.
Resident Services: Some of you may have experienced issues in trying to get through to us at the (212) 420-5000 number during peak times. We apologize for the inconvenience. Due to the storm, our phone capacity was reduced to one third of our standard capacity. As of the end of last week, the capacity for our phone lines was restored to pre-storm standards, which should resolve these issues. You can also reach the various departments via email: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.comKey Card Access: We continue to work with third-party contractors to restore access cards in 440, 510, 530 E 23rd St.; 441, 511, 531, 541, 601 E 20th St.; 7 & 8 PCR. In some cases, this work is further complicated by the conditions in the basements. Once the basements are able to be demolished, restoration efforts should accelerate. Contract security guards will remain posted in these buildings to provide access to residents who do not have carriage room keys for the entrance doors.
Intercoms: Intercom service was restored to the following buildings on schedule last week, with the exception of being able to contact Public Safety directly: 431 E 20th St; 2, 3, 4, PCR; 350, 360, 370, 390 First Ave. The intercoms in Stuyvesant Town buildings are operational but cannot access Public Safety at this time. We continue to work on restoring the connection between the intercoms and Public Safety and will notify you as soon as this has been completed.Two addresses which were scheduled to be restored with inter-building intercom service last week, 441 E 20th St and 5 PCR, have experienced worse damage to their infrastructure than initially realized. A timeline for the restoration of intercom service will be provided as soon as possible for these two buildings , as well as the other buildings that experienced extensive infrastructural damage: 420, 440, 510, 530 E 23rd St; 511, 531, 541, 601 E 20th St; 6, 7, 8 PCR.
Basement Access:In the impacted basements, we continue to use dehumidification machines to help keep the basements dry until demolition is complete. These machines are being powered by generators which operate from 7AM-10PM Monday-Friday and 9AM-10PM on Saturday and Sunday.
· Limited Access: Residents in the following buildings were granted access to those basements over the past several weeks during specific hours: 3, 4, 5, 6 PCR; 441, 541, 601, 620 E 20th St. (ST); 420, 440, 510, 530 E 23rd St. Access is no longer permitted to these basements as of December 1st. As previously explained, any property not removed is being discarded.
· No Access: Access remains restricted to 511 and 531 E 20th St. and 7 & 8 PCR.
Demolition is expected to begin as soon as possible. At the request of the Tenants Association, demolition work was delayed by five days past the November 30th deadline to allow some residents extra time to access the storage areas. Once demolition is complete, we can begin to restore the laundry rooms, repair the electrical equipment and rebuild the basements in the affected buildings.
Trunks: We will be re-commencing trunk retrieval for trunks located in Stuyvesant Town beginning today. Please be aware that because of the backlog from the last month and the limited staff we are able to allocate given all the other priorities on the property, it may take longer than usual to schedule an appointment. We appreciate in advance, your patience. Please help to minimize the volume of requests and only request your trunk if it is absolutely necessary.
As previously reported, we continue to remove trunks from the flooded basements and store them securely. We are still working to identify a location and process to allow retrieval. As soon as that has been finalized, we will advise residents immediately and will provide you with 30 days to claim your trunks.
Parking: We remind you that all damaged cars not removed by December 15th will be towed by Quik Park at the vehicle owner’s expense. To contact Quik Park, please call (212) 832-2066.