Updated April 2, 11:50 a.m.
Dozens of residents living in a Glen Oaks co-op community have been without gas service for six weeks — with no end in sight.
A resident who spoke on the condition of anonymity told QNS that gas in the building at 255th Street and 75th Avenue, part of the Glen Oaks Village, has been shut off since Feb. 14, when a gas smell was reported. That day, Con Edison arrived to the site, determined there was a gas leak, and shut off service.
In November to December 2016, residents in 40 units part of the same co-op village had a similar issue when the gas was turned off for five weeks after a reported leak.
This time around, according to the resident, Con Edison discovered another gas leak in the area coming from a line for which the co-op management is responsible. Con Edison determined that gas valves behind the existing stoves in each apartment needed to be replaced.
Service has not been restored since.
In recent weeks, co-op management has issued multiple memos to residents informing them that they are working to complete the work according to “NYC Gas Leak Repair Protocols.” The protocols, enacted by Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2016, require final inspections of gas pipe systems be conducted by the Department of Buildings. Gas service operators and owners must also notify the DOB within 24 hours of gas service being shut off in a building.
“These new [city] protocols have added layers of additional steps that must be followed before the NYC Department of Buildings will allow Con Ed to turn the gas back on,” reads a memo dated March 15. “It will now take a month or more to comply with all the steps now required by the city.”
“The management office, they’ve done nothing to resolve this thing,” the co-op resident said. “They need to do something. It’s taken too long and it’s not fair for the people over here.”
To cook meals, the resident and his family had to purchase a small electric and gas grill and a slow cooker.
“We cook and we don’t like junk food, going to McDonald’s or wherever,” the resident said. “And we can’t afford going out to good restaurants for food.”
Fellow resident Mohammad Islam, who has lived in the co-op with his family for about 14 years, said he has never had an experience like this before. Islam also had to purchase a small electric stove to cook for his family.
“This is sub-par living,” he said. “We can do so little cooking. We’re so frustrated.”
Islam said he’s had multiple email correspondences with co-op management, who say they’re waiting on DOB permits and inspections.
According to a Department of Buildings spokesperson, a licensed master plumber hired by the co-op owner filed two permit applications for gas work on Feb. 21, following the gas leak. Both permits were approved by DOB on the same day.
On March 12, DOB arrived to the site to conduct an inspection at the site, the spokesperson added. The inspection resulted in a fail because the plumber could not provide the city agency with access to the areas that needed inspection. Since then, the plumber has not requested an additional inspection.
“DOB will expedite any inspection requests related to this property once they are received, in the interest of returning safe gas service to the tenants as quickly as possible,” the spokesperson said.
According to co-op board president Bob Friedrich, the delay is due to DOB’s “outrageous, unfair and inequitable” new protocols.
“This whole thing has been delayed by the DOB because their protocols have created enormous delays, even though the gas leak repairs were completed weeks ago,” he said.
Friedrich said the co-op completed repairs about three weeks ago; the work was then tested by master plumbers. However, when the city came in to inspect, he said they discovered a few of the gas dryers and washing machines within building units did not have permits: a problem “unrelated to gas leak issue.” This resulted in a failed inspection.
Co-op management is working with DOB to schedule inspections and have the gas turned back on, Friedrich said. A meeting has also been set up for April 6 where senior management of Glen Oaks Village, DOB officials and Councilman Barry Grodenchik will discuss getting the gas turned back on and work out a protocol so a similar situation does not happen again in the future.
“The problem lies with the Department of Buildings,” Friedrich said. “It’s a horrible situation.”