I had run a couple of times for the board, but the board was pretty close knit and not really open to change. They had been in place for about 20 years. Some people had run against them, but never with much luck. I was very persistent. Every year, I’d try, even though I knew I wouldn’t win.
Then we had a roof assessment and it caught a lot of people off guard. They needed to raise a lot of capital in a short time. Almost overnight a lot of people who never took part in the building operations or really cared started asking me what I was going to do about it. I said, “I can’t do anything, it’s a co-op. We have to start by trying to communicate with the existing board.” When that didn’t happen, the next step was to demand a vote. So the building did that – we had a huge turnout, and they decided to have a new board. And in December 2007, that’s where I came in.
BACK TO THE BEGINNING
My father was born in Switzerland. My mother was born and raised in America. They had different perspectives on things.
I came to New York to go to New York University in 1994. What attracted me was “bright lights, big city”. I was interested in getting a degree in finance, working on Wall Street. Somewhere along the line I got the IT [information technology] bug and ended up working in technology instead.
I’ve held a variety of IT jobs at NYU since 1995. I’ve done everything from working on the help desk to being the director of network and systems. Currently, I lead a small group of network and system administrators at the [NYU] business school.
I LIKED THE BUILDING
I moved into this building in 2002. I had been renting – and a friend was living in the building. When I looked around the building, it was very strong, financially and structurally. I liked the neighborhood.
On the board, I use a lot of skills from my work. One is having a bit of a financial background and being able to look at the numbers, just like you would your own home budget. The other aspect is communication, dealing with people. This is a little bit of politics, and that’s a bit new for me. And the third one is kind of being like a general contractor. A lot of things revolve around doing improvements. I’m used to dealing with technical aspects in my work, and I think that’s helped a lot.
SAYING THANK YOU
I’ve had people bring me food during holidays, just to say thanks [for being on the board]. Somebody gave me a nice vintage-aged bottle of whiskey, even though I don’t drink whiskey. Probably, the best thing is when people actually offer a helping hand when we do parties. Previously, there were never very many social activities. Now, every quarter we try to meet with the shareholders, and we also have an annual holiday party. People really like that.
Our mortgage ends in 2015. There are some projects we want to do, but we don’t want to substantially increase capital, and we’re seeing if we can hold out to 2015 when we won’t have a monthly payment anymore. We’re seeing how that’s going to shake out.
I hope not. My goal would be to have a continued interest in the building and at some point to pass the reins to someone who would be as interested as I am in trying to keep people engaged in what’s happening.
—Edited from an interview with Carol J. Ott
The Rafolin 65-15 38th Avenue, Woodside, Queens
UNITS 145 (less than 10 percent are unsold share units) ?
STAFF no doorman, 1 superintendent, 2 porters?
BOARD 5 members?
RECENT PROJECTS ?Outside repairs for water leaks; replacing light bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs; researching cable and satellite TV options for bulk savings
WENT CO-OP 1981
MANAGER Matthew Adam Properties ATTORNEY Hankin & Mazel
ACCOUNTANT Marin & Montanye