Gas pains at Glen Oaks

Gas pains at Glen Oaks
Photo by Mark Hallum
By Mark Hallum

A seemingly manageable gas leak in the street of Glen Oaks Village spread throughout the complex in an unexpected way before service was finally restored.

When the leak was reported to ConEd Nov. 3, it led to the complete shutdown of the gas system for 40 units, according to Co-op President Bob Friedrich. The affected families had been eating out or cooking make-shift meals with electric appliances at home for more than 40 days.

Joe Concannon, the current Republican candidate for City Council in the 23rd District, hosted a Tuesday news conference for outraged residents, who thought their quality of life was harmed by ConEd and the legislation that required the co-op to replace valves that were not implicated in the leak.

The Glen Oaks gas system is not very old. The co-op was built in the 1940s, but made the switch from oil to gas in the 1980s, Friedrich said.

But even though the outside gas leak was quickly fixed, city protocol nonetheless required the steel valves linking to appliances such as stove tops and laundry machines to be replaced, costing the co-op $12,000 and residents an undetermined amount, and delaying the resumption of gas service for weeks.

Friedrich argued that once the original leak was fixed, the lines should have been pressure tested and allowed to operate.

“The new rules and protocols require that we remove and replace perfectly good gas valves in 40 apartments and on 40 gas lines in the meter room. These types of protocols simply don’t work efficiently in our type of dwellings and create a real hardship for our residents, and cost to our co-op,” Friedrich said. “The requirement to replace good working gas valves with new ones–coupled with the built-in delays of DOB permits and inspections, and the inability to immediately self-certify the job, created enormous delays and also cost the co-op more than $12,000 in unnecessary valve replacements. The status quo must change.”

One female resident who is currently pregnant voiced her concerns to Concannon about the well-being of her unborn child without the ability to easily provide nourishment at home.

“For 40 days and 40 nights the residents of Glen Oaks, NY were without gas for cooking and clothing dryers. These residents were held captive by the deBlasio administration’s ill-fated policies that hamstrung Con Ed, The NYC Department of Buildings and Glen Oaks Village Cooperative. One size fits all DeBlasio policies do not fit every community. Over 100 people were impacted, they lost Thanksgiving because they couldn’t cook at home and now are afraid they are about to lose Christmas and other holidays as well.” Concannon said. “The community told him there was no sense of urgency and that just because they had heat no one they spoke to placed their needs as a priority.”

A spokesman from the ConEdison, however, said this kind of wait time for replacing lines for this many units is not unusual, because of procedures which must be followed, such as integrity tests and acquiring permits from the Dept. of Buildings.

“We have been in contact with the building’s facilities personnel and have been notified that internal repairs have been made. We are coordinating the restoration of gas service,” the spokesman said, adding that at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday repairmen were on site to complete the process. “We performed the integrity test on the customer’s piping and everything passed. We are on location working with the customer’s plumber and maintenance people gassing in (turning on) the appliances.”

Concannon, who is running against Democratic incumbent Councilman Barry Grodenchik (D-Fresh Meadows), used the news conference to tell potential voters he would have been at the location every day until the issue was resolved if he were councilman, and claimed that Glen Oaks residents he has spoken to do not know who their representative in city government is.

Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhallum@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.