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Co-op Board Member Dolf Ferucci: "A House Rule Has to Be for Everybody"

in Board Operations on December 27, 2013

Smith Street Gardens, Freeport, Long Island

Gandolfo ("Dolf") Ferucci. Photo by Jennifer Wu.
Dec. 27, 2013

 

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Brooklyn until I was 17 and then my parents wanted to get me away from gangs, so they purchased a house in the suburbs. I remember the first thing I loved about Long Island was when I went to high school, you had your own locker. To me, it was wonderful – all the grass and the trees and the facilities, the sports and everything, as compared to what I had going to school in Brooklyn. I fell in love with it.

What do you do professionally and did that experience help you on the board?

I was a structural mechanic for Grumman Aircraft. So there was nothing [related], other than the fact that I was, again, this detailed person. But I didn't use [that skill] until I moved to Freeport and the building went cooperative.

What are your strengths as a board member?

I like being involved in projects — whether it will be brick pointing, or putting on a new roof. I am very detail-oriented.

What do you regard as highly desirable qualities in a board member?

If you make a house rule, it has to be for everybody. You have to put aside your compassion and deal as a business person would in a business situation. If there is no parking there, there is no parking, and that's the end of it.

Conversely, what are some of the least desirable traits in a board member?

Someone who doesn't look at the broader picture: if we do this now, how will that affect us down the road?

As a board member, how do you balance empathy for your fellow residents with making hard choices for the corporation?

You always have to keep in mind what's best for the building as a whole, for the common good, as opposed to individual good.

What is the hardest decision you've faced on the board?

Close to 15 years ago, when the market was really bad, we developed what was called subleasing guidelines. You could only rent for three years, but then you had to either sell or move back for two years in order to reapply to sublease. There was a couple [whose] three-year period of time ran out. They begged us, "Please let us continue to rent, we can't sell, we live in Pennsylvania." But, unfortunately, we had to have this couple end their lease. That was horrendous, to have to give someone terrible hardship. That period of time was very difficult.

What does your family make of your board activities?

The board business has interfered with certain [family] events — if we're in the middle of a project, for example. But it's not like [my family is] annoyed by it; they understand.

Are you ready to call it a day?

I've been doing this a long time, it's part of my life, it becomes ingrained in you. I think the worst part about being on a board of directors is you can't get out. As long as I live here, I just can't not participate.

 

Photo by Jennifer Wu. Click to enlarge

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