New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide



Sally Jones

For Sally Jones, it’s all about communication. After earning a bachelor’s in writing and literature at Columbia University, the St. Louis native worked as a digital editorial director at the Walt Disney Company and Reader’s Digest before founding her own content strategy company. Jones, who serves as board secretary at the Jaxboro Corp., a six-story, 143-unit building in Jackson Heights, Queens, spoke with Habitat about the challenges of the job — and the importance of keeping the lines of communication with shareholders open. 

Jones’ comments have been condensed and edited for clarity.

Third time’s the charm. I previously lived at two co-ops in Carroll Gardens and served on the board at both places. After I met my partner, we wanted to live together and started looking at co-ops in Queens, where housing costs were more affordable compared with Brooklyn. In my admission interview, I mentioned that I had been a board member, and not long after moving here in 2014, the board president invited me to be an intern, which was a program we had at the time where people could try out being a member before joining. But I was so tired from serving on the board at one of my previous co-ops, where we had to wrest control from the sponsor and things were very intense, that I passed on the offer.

A better interface. Still, I knew I would join eventually. There had been complaints that the board wasn’t communicating effectively with shareholders. So in 2020, I got together with two other people and we successfully ran for the board on one ticket. We campaigned by knocking on doors, telling people that we would be good communicators, and I think we are. We send out a quarterly newsletter and created a Good Neighbors group on Google. It’s not run by the board — some members are in it and others aren’t — but it’s great because issues surface right away, so you can gauge how people are feeling and address any problems.

Dollars and sense. The co-op’s finances have always been solid. When I moved here, there were 40 sponsor-owned apartments, and now we have fewer than eight, which has really helped with flip taxes. Our maintenance is in line with similar co-ops in the neighborhood, partly because we’ve limited increases and paid for projects through assessments. In 2022, we did another facade project, which was tricky because the engineering firm that did the inspection seemed to forget that it had signed off on the previous round and flagged issues that caused us to temporarily lose our Safe With a Repair and Maintenance Program status. The first instinct would be to hire a different engineer, but our board president and management company, All Area Realty Services, negotiated tens of thousands of dollars off the project, which totaled around $800,000. The scaffolding came down last spring, but it had been up so long that it killed a lot of our young trees and plants. We spent $50,000 on landscaping, and everyone’s really happy with the way it looks now.

What lies ahead. We have three elevators, all original, that have to be replaced. Each will take up to six weeks, which will be a hardship for our elderly shareholders, so we’re trying to troubleshoot by raising a volunteer squad to help them. For folks who live near the top of the building but can’t walk up, the plan is for them to take one of the other elevators to the roof, walk across it and then come down the stairs to their apartments. We’re planning on doing the project, which is going to cost about $1 million, when the weather is good. We are also looking into installing solar panels. As for Local Law 97, we haven’t done an energy survey yet, but it looks like we’re all good for 2025 and won’t have any fines for noncompliance. All of our exposed pipes are insulated, and we installed radiant barriers between the apartment radiators and the walls to keep in the heat. 

More recently, we got bids and chose a vendor to paint the basement, which was completed over the holidays and involved scraping years of paint from the floor and walls and leveling the concrete. We also changed our laundry room vendor after our contract ended in December and are installing new machines.

And with Local Law 126 parking garage inspections coming up in Queens in 2026, we brought in an engineer to see where we stand with the condition of our underground garage. Fortunately, the steel beams are solid, but there is cracking in the fireproofing of the roof due to water intrusion from the garden directly above it. We think it is coming from the gutters on the garages of the homes behind us washing water down the back wall of the garden. So we’re going to waterproof the garage from the inside.

Good vibrations. It’s a really nice building to live in. People are very neighborly and have holiday parties and other events where everyone gets together. I love that our shareholders are so diverse in age and culture — it’s a true reflection of the city. And we are a very active board. The members have a lot of energy, and divide up the work in a way where nobody’s overburdened. So being on this board has been a lot less exhausting — and more productive and satisfying — than what I experienced before.

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