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Astoria co-op calls for gas service to be restored, sheds light on bigger problems

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirao

Shareholders and residents of one Astoria co-op building are caught in the middle of a blame game, and want to get the services they are paying for and deserve.

The occupants of Acropolis Gardens, located between 33rd and 35th streets off Ditmars Boulevard, gathered with Councilman Costa Constantinides and Public Advocate Letitia James Monday calling on the building’s management company to restore gas and hot water, which have been out in the building since late April.

The gas service in eight of the 16 buildings that make up the complex was turned off after a fire occurred on April 29. Since then only two of the eight buildings have gotten the gas service back.

“For eight of the 16 buildings here, this is week eight of not being able to take a hot shower after a long day. This is week number eight of not being able to come home and use their stove to cook themselves a hot meal,” Constantinides said. “This has been week eight of their lives being turned upside down and today we are here to say enough is enough. It’s time to get the work done.”

Con Edison has not turned the gas back on in the buildings because of internal piping issues the building’s management company, Metropolitan Pacific Properties, needs to address first, according to a spokesman.

“The service was shut off to several of the buildings because of unauthorized, improper hookups that violate building codes. Building management has been made fully aware of what they need to do,” the spokesman said. “Gas was shut off for the safety of the residents. We’ll continue working with the city to make restorations as proper repairs are made.”

The co-op board held a rally Sunday with residents and members of the management company calling on Con Edison to turn the gas back on in the complex.

“I’m not only affected but everyone in the complex is affected and ultimately the goal of a a co-op is to operate effectively as one and what is going on is atrocious and it really seems to be Con Edison’s negligence and faulty,” said Ryan Herzich, a resident and shareholder at the Acropolis for about a year, who attended the rally. “Management has been doing everything they can to alleviate that. They’ve been very responsive and proactive in communications with me and all the other tenants and shareholders.”

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Steve Osman, CEO of Metropolitan Pacific Properties, speaks during a rally Sunday. (Photo by Michael Johnson)

Steve Osman, CEO of Metropolitan Pacific Properties, said that all work being done within the complex has proper permits and they are in the process of replacing oil burners with natural gas.

During the rally on Monday morning, both Constantinides and James said that instead of pointing fingers, the management company has to first deal with the issue and work with Con Edison to get the gas turned back on and then deal with any problems within agencies.

“We have to work together to fix this problem and there have been enough recriminations, enough of the blame game,” James said. “Fix the problem and fix it now. It’s as simple as that.”

Osman said that the issues with the heat and hot water should be resolved once the burners are replaced with the new ones.

“There’s always going to be some issues, you can please 90 percent of the people and the 10 percent you don’t is always the loudest,” Osman said. “As management we know we’re never going to please 100 percent but that 10 percent is always the loudest. There are sales here every single week, they’re selling for record prices right now, we have four closings coming up. This didn’t hurt any of it.”

However, according to residents, there are other problems that they have been dealing with management for the past years.

Shallena Jabid, who has been living in Acropolis Gardens since 2011 and has owned her apartment since 2007, said, “I hope somebody can do something.”

A source close to the situation told The Courier Wednesday that James is working to set up a meeting with all parties involved in the hope of resolving this matter.

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