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AUTHORJosh Koppel, President
PAGE #p. 60
THE BIG PICTURE
When new members join boards that we manage, I like to whisper in their ear: “Expect the unexpected because it always happens.” Here’s a little story about when the unexpected arrived not by a stork but in a basket filled with construction dust.
I manage a cooperative building on the Lower East Side that crosses every “t” and dots every “i.” There are many very intelligent members on the board who are skilled professionals – people who communicate well. We had a gut renovation performed by an investor in his unit, and we made sure to utilize an alteration agreement and engage an engineer. During the renovation, some dust escaped from the apartment through a vent in a closet that was not properly sealed. The construction dust went up the vent and migrated into several apartments, which were covered with the construction dust.
We worked with the board and immediately conducted an inspection to determine the extent of damages and scope of corrective remedial work, as well as recommending that the construction dust be tested by a forensic team. As suspected, the construction dust was contaminated with both asbestos fibers and lead-based paint particles. We assembled a team of professionals to perform the major abatement and remediation cleaning work. Anything in the apartments that had cloth or fabric had to be thrown in the garbage due to the difficulty in cleaning the contaminated surfaces.
My advice to any new board member is: keep your ears open, express yourself, if you see something, say something, and always be prepared. Get to know your building inside and out, get to know the rules and regulations. When you’re making a decision, you are fulfilling your fiduciary duties and fiscal responsibilities, in conjunction with your best business judgment, to protect your fellow shareholders, ensure the safety of your neighbors and the security of the building. All in a day’s work!