Michael O'Brien, Board President
Parking is a contentious issue all over the city. And it was contentious at my building, too. There are 5,000 people living at Skyview-on-the-Hudson, a 1,306-unit co-op in Riverdale, and while there are almost enough parking spaces for everybody, there is a lot of competition for the small number of temporary and guest spots. That is one of the major problems our board confronted.
First, though, a bit more about the building: Skyview consists of three 20-story residences that sit on 23 acres of property in the northwest corner of Riverdale. Skyview’s location on one of the highest vantage points in New York City provides it with breathtaking views of the Hudson River, the Palisades, the George Washington Bridge, and Manhattan. Skyview’s amenities include 24-hour concierge service, 24-hour security guards, tennis courts, a basketball court, a children’s playground, and a dog run. In addition, Skyview has the Skyclub, which includes a seven-day fitness center staffed by its own management staff, a year-round full-service café and a 101-foot, Olympic-size swimming pool. I have been a board member since June 2008 but have been president only since October 2010. I initially joined the board for a clear-cut reason: to make improvements to the property’s basketball court for my three teenage sons. While I have not been able to get this done (yet), I have been able to work on other, larger projects such as a NYSERDA energy reduction plan (online this June) and the parking situation.
The ability to solve the latter problem was a result of two big changes. First, we began subscribing to an online service that includes an “electronic bulletin board” feature. Second, we replaced our security guard firm for the first time in 17 years.
Temporary and guest parking quickly became a hot topic on the bulletin board. People complained that the temporary and guest spots were never available because people remained parked with impunity long after the limits (20 minutes for temporary and 12 hours for guests) had passed. There were even accounts of people parking in other people’s monthly spots without repercussions.
We then made further use of our online service by using a feature that allowed us to conduct surveys. We asked if we should make the policy more strict or more lenient. We expected that the consensus would be for stricter rules. To our surprise, the overwhelming response was to make them less strict.
So, we crafted an updated parking policy that would satisfy everyone. E-mail after e-mail went out among the 11 board members to arrive at just the right mix. I was really impressed with the way the board hung in there to propose, compromise, and hash out every detail of the new plan. The result was a policy that established an actual time limit but with a stated grace period that provided the flexibility requested by most of the survey respondents. To appease the residents who wanted strict enforcement, we promised a swift and consistent response by the security guards to parking infractions. This would never have been possible with our old security firm, which had become complacent over the years. Our new firm stickered, booted, and towed a good number of cars in the weeks after the new policy was implemented.
Much credit is due our property manager, Jack Timlin of Midboro, and his staff. Although Jack’s initial advice to the board was to try a more flexible policy, he implemented the stricter plan we required exactly as written. The results have been uniformly positive: the parking areas are much more available. The co-op made a little extra money from the boot fees.
The parking regulations are not the most complicated or expensive project undertaken at Skyview, but this was a great opportunity for the board to work together to improve the Skyview experience. It didn’t cost any money, and it boosted the board’s confidence in both our security guards and on-site staff. And it makes me welcome additional challenges of this nature, because I now know that the team at Skyview is up to the task of solving any problem.