Creating a connection. When I joined the board in 2014 there was no communication in the building — no board email address and certainly no emailing by the board to anybody. One of the first things I did was start an email group, which was revolutionary. We have a lot of Spanish speakers and Korean speakers, so we started translating important things, and people were thrilled. I’ve lived overseas, so I can imagine what it’s like to not be able to read something and not know what the hell’s going on. We’ve been spending money outsourcing the translations because it’s important, but now we’re trying to reduce our costs by having it done more informally by someone inside.
Money matters. We recently raised the maintenance by a large amount. It must have been a surprise to everyone else but it wasn’t a surprise to me. We hadn’t had an increase in 10 years. From 2009 to 2019, the net change in our maintenance was actually -2.28% because we paid off our underlying mortgage. We had a reserve of $700,000 but had to spend it because taxes and insurance costs went up. So there were almost no capital improvements at all.
To-do list. We haven’t done a gas conversion. We haven’t replaced our windows. We haven’t replaced our roof, which has been leaking substantially, since 1964, and it’s going to cost us. With the first change order we’ve gotten it’s now $600,000, and you know that’s just getting started. We’re also having a hard time keeping up with the frequency of mandatory facade repairs, and now we have a $300,000 project coming up. We’re taking out a $2 million mortgage. We know we’re overestimating a little but were more comfortable with that because it felt like the risk of underestimating was higher. We will have a line of credit, too. So we’re erring on the side of caution.
Going green. Our building got a D energy grade, so there’s a lot of work to do on our carbon emissions, some of it before 2024. And the compliance requirements seem to be coming fast and furious, and it feels like it’s increasing exponentially. We’re all for emissions reductions, but I don’t want our wonderful tenants who’ve been here for ages to have to move out. I worry about them.
Board president (3 years)
41-31 51st St., Woodside, Queens
Years of board service: 7
Year built: 1968
Operating budget: $718,000
Current assessment: No
Last maintenance increase: Not available
Property management: EBMG
Accountant: Cesarano & Khan
Attorney: Goldstein & Greenlaw