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20 Years and Counting

Mario Trozzi, Board President
Neptune House
Board Member: 20 years
Board President: 12 years
Hometown: Utica, New York

Mario Trozzi, 55, has been on the board of the 130-unit, two-building Neptune House co-op in New Rochelle for the past 20 years, serving the last 12 as president. Because he’s so detail-oriented, Trozzi is called “Mr. Institutional Memory” by the building’s veteran manager, Brian Scally, a vice president at Garthchester Realty, who adds, “With all the work that’s been done over the last 20 years, Mario has everything documented. He’s just got one of those memories – he knows the work and the contractors. He’ll remember when we did the work and then pull out the files. It’s impressive.”

Habitat: Why did you decide to serve on your board?

Trozzi: I was kind of thrown into it, to be honest. When I moved into the building, I didn’t really know how the whole co-op board structure functioned. I got to know the board president, and one day he approached me and said, “What do you think about sitting on the board?” I explained to him that I had never sat on a board, but he wanted me to get involved. The big issue at the time was that the co-op had a lot of owners who were subletting their apartments. They found that they could make more money renting them than selling them. We even had two board members subletting!

As you probably know, subletting affects the resale value of other apartments, because banks frown on co-ops with too many sublets. Buyers have trouble getting loans. So we had to create a policy to deal with that. Anyone who wanted to sublease their apartment had to write to the board explaining why they wanted to sublease and what attempts they had made to try and sell it. We limited the time of the sublease to two years, and that was it. At the end of two years, they had to either move back in or sell the unit.

We have seven members on our board. Over the years, I’ve learned if the majority comes and says, “We should do this,” that’s the way it’s got to be. What I find is, some people go to sit on the board and they feel that, “This is what I want.” If they don’t get what they want, there’s trouble. You’ve got to work together as a board. You’re not going to agree on everything. You got to keep an open mind.

Habitat: Tell me a little bit about yourself.

Trozzi: I grew up in a house upstate in Utica, so my experience with buildings was a little bit different from what it is now. I went to grammar school and high school upstate, and then I went to Manhattan College in the Bronx and studied accounting. I wound up working for the state as an auditor, which helps me on the board when we deal with financial matters.

Habiat: What attracted you to the Neptune House?

Trozzi: When we were married, my wife and I lived in an apartment building down the street from where we currently live. But we didn’t have a playground and we didn’t have a pool. My wife said, “We really need to do something with the kids in the summer,” so we joined a beach club. But we felt we were throwing a lot of money away on rent. There’s no advantage to that. So we started looking into co-ops, and my wife came across a co-op apartment foreclosure. When we went and met with the realtor, we didn’t really care for that unit, but they showed us some other ones, including our current apartment. This building also has a pool. In fact, I spend a lot of time at the pool.

Habitat: What do you like to do in your personal time?

Trozzi: I exercise, I like to run, or go on a bike ride. I spend a lot of time with my family. I have two daughters, aged 23 and 25, and one stepdaughter who is 38. The kids are getting a little bit older, but I do spend a lot of time with the family. That’s very important. I probably vacation once a year. We go to the Jersey Shore.

Habitat: Finally, getting back to the co-op, what’s the biggest challenge that you are currently facing?

Trozzi: Getting new board members. There are some people who just don’t want to get involved. They don’t care. I don’t understand why people buy into something and then apparently don’t care what happens.

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