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No gas for Pomonok tenants

By Alex Robinson

More than 250 apartments in a Flushing housing complex could be without gas for two months, tenants said after a gas leak cut off their service last week.

New York City Housing Authority officials told a meeting of around 100 tenants at Pomonok Houses Monday night it could take anywhere from four to eight weeks to fix the leak and return service.

Con Edison turned off the gas to 259 units in four buildings at the housing complex, at 67-10 Parsons Blvd., March 13 after tenants on the first floor complained about a gas odor and alerted the Fire Department.

“We are waiting for NYCHA to make repairs,” a Con Edison spokesman said. “The leak is on customer piping, so we’re waiting for them to make repairs before we can introduce gas again.”

Heat and hot water services were not affected by the disruption, only cooking gas, according to a NYCHA spokeswoman.

“NYCHA staff has been on site since Day 1 working to restore service,” she said in a statement. “NYCHA staff notified residents and distributed hot plates. While we cannot estimate when gas will be restored at this point, NYCHA staff are working to restore service as soon as possible. We will keep residents informed.”

NYCHA gave each tenant a hot plate to cook their food on in the meantime.

“There are families that have seven kids who are trying to cook with just one hot plate,” said Monica Corbett, president of the Pomonok Houses tenants association.

Lisa Johnson, a tenant who has lived in Pomonok Houses for three years, said only one side of the two-burner hot plate she was given by NYCHA works.

“It’s going to be a huge inconvenience because I cook a lot at home and right now I’m only able to cook with one pot at a time,” she said. “When I plug that thing in, it blows out the lights. So I have to use it with the refrigerator unplugged.”

The housing authority will now need to hire an outside contractor and obtain permits from the city Department of Design and Construction as well as the city Department of Buildings before work can go ahead.

Once the work on the new gas line is complete, an inspection of every single apartment in the four buildings affected by the leak will have to be inspected before Con Edison can safely turn the gas back on.

NYCHA has not offered tenants any form of rent abatement or financial compensation for the inconvenience but is working with Meals on Wheels to offer meals to seniors as well as with HRA to get food to those who qualify for the program.

After hearing a steady stream of complaints from tenants about the gas shutoff, U.S. Rep. Grace Meng’s (D-Flushing) office said it has put pressure on NYCHA to expedite the repairs.

“I am greatly concerned about cooking gas being shut off for several weeks, particularly with Passover and Easter coming up,” Meng said. “I urge NYCHA to do everything it can to expedite these repairs with all the involved agencies and utilities. We understand the need for safety, but work must not be delayed.”

City Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) has also been working closely with NYCHA in the hopes of getting the gas line replaced in a timely fashion for the tenants.

“Hot plates are no substitute for speedy repairs and peace of mind. I’m calling on NYCHA to deliver an accurate timetable for when residents can expect running gas at Pomonok, and regain the basic ability to cook meals for themselves and their families,” Lancman said.

Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at arobinson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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