Updated Dec. 16, 3:15 p.m.
Residents in 40 Glen Oaks co-op units have access to gas again after being without for more than five weeks, Con Edison confirmed to QNS on Friday.
The Con Edison spokesperson said the gas was turned back on at the Glen Oaks Village co-op on Tuesday, Dec. 13. The work was completed as of 6:57 p.m. that day.
“I’m glad to hear the gas has been turned back on,” said Joseph Concannon, who organized a press conference at the co-op earlier in the week. “Hopefully now Glen Oaks Village can return to normalcy and each of you can enjoy the holiday season.”
Unable to cook or dry their clothes in their homes for more than five weeks, residents within the Glen Oaks Village co-op spoke out at the Dec. 13 press conference.
The situation began on Thursday, Nov. 3, when a resident in the co-op called Con Edison to report a gas odor, according to co-op president Bob Friedrich. When workers arrived that night and tried to shut off the gas from the sidewalk, the curb valve broke, necessitating a street excavation to access the street gas valve to shut off the gas.
By the next day, the gas leak problem was solved but the gas was not turned back on due to “city bureaucracy,” according to Friedrich.
“What you have here is an out-of-control city that has created protocols and procedures that have created all sort of delays and problems for a problem that was effectively fixed on Nov. 5,” Friedrich said.
Protocol required that they replace the gas valves in all 40 units, which cost the co-op over $12,000, Friedrich said.
This work, coupled with back-and-forth with the Department of Buildings (DOB) to comply with permit and inspection requirements, is what has caused the delay in gas service, according to Friedrich.
“This gas work permit was filed for on Nov. 18 and approved the same day,” a DOB spokesperson said. “The timeline for the hired construction professional to perform the work is completely dependent upon the agreement between the owner and the plumber. Once work is completed, the plumber is required to contact DOB and request a gas authorization inspection. Plumbing inspections by a DOB inspector can be scheduled in 5 days or less.”
Members of the co-op without gas service spoke about having to eat out at restaurants, order takeout food or buy electrical cooking equipment like slow cookers and toaster ovens. Residents were unable to cook for Thanksgiving, and they are worried they will not be able to celebrate the next set of holidays coming up at the end of the month.
“It’s terrible. We have no way to cook,” resident Linda Berardi said. “We had to go buy an electric skillet to cook on. We’ve been using the microwave and ordering out … I still have a frozen turkey in my freezer from Thanksgiving.”
“This is something that should never happen anywhere in the city,” said Joseph Concannon, a member of the Queens Village Republican Club, which organized the press conference; Concannon is also running for City Council next year. “It is, by far, an example of our crumbling infrastructure here in the city of New York because this is not the only location where this is happening.”
According to Friedrich, the next step in the process is collaborating with the co-op’s plumber to enter all 40 residences and reconnect the appliances within. Then, the co-op can contact Con Edison to schedule an appointment for further testing.
“City of New York: wake up. Get the gas back on here,” Concannon said on Dec. 13.
That same day, Con Edison told QNS that they were working on the issue.
“We’re in contact with building’s facilities personnel and have been notified that internal repairs have been made,” a Con Edison spokesperson said. “We will coordinate the restoration of gas service once we have received final documentation from their plumber.”
A DOB spokesperson explained that after the DOB inspection, it was up to the building owner to schedule an inspection with Con Edison to restore gas service.
“The gas authorization inspection was scheduled on Dec. 9,” a DOB spokesperson said. “DOB gave gas authorization for the work after the inspection was completed. After gas authorization is given by DOB, the plumber will need to schedule an inspection with Con Ed for them to make a determination on whether it is safe to restore service. Any delay between the gas shut off time and filing for the permit was based upon the owner’s timeline.”