Emily Myers in Bricks & Bucks
It’s one thing to deal with the heavy rains New York experienced this fall, but at 1300 Midland Avenue, one of three buildings comprising the Kimberly Gardens co-op complex in Yonkers, even a moderate rainfall caused flooding in the building’s lobby. “Sometimes water would come in so quickly from so many directions, it was sandbags after sandbags trying to control it,” says Valona Gjeka of Bota Property Management, the co-op’s onsite manager.
Board member Robert DiMartini, who moved into the building in 1999 — when the flooding was already an issue — says the co-op had tried over the years to address the problem, to no avail. Previous attempts included rerouting and adding extra drainage, installing pumps next to the doorways, and placing concrete bricks on the walkway to divert the water. “Maybe it did help, but it didn’t solve the problem,” he says.
With the co-op complex facing other building issues, including facade repairs, a full roof replacement and balcony restoration work, Gjeka suggested bringing in an engineer who could also tackle the lobby flooding at the same time. The board supported the move.
With no original drawings of the co-op’s exterior drainage system, the recommended work involved digging up the front lawn at 1300 Midland to assess the condition of the storm lines. A plumbing company was engaged to clean the pipes so a camera probe could be inserted to inspect it over hundreds of feet. It became clear that the original clay pipes channeling water from the building’s gutters and roofs were badly deteriorated. “Pretty much the entire line was cracked and collapsed,” Gjeka says.
The solution was to redesign and expand the length and size of the drainage system and replace the original pipes. That involved digging up much of the building’s front lawn, which was “ripped to shreds,” Gjeka says, adding that the landscaping team had their work cut out restoring the lawn to its original condition after the pipe replacement was completed earlier this year.
Additional flood prevention measures were taken in anticipation of intense storms in the future, including replacing the building’s pumps with more efficient heavy-duty equipment in the drain pits and outside the service door, where flooding was persistent. In addition, new electricity lines were added to power the pumps.
The bundled repair projects at the property cost $6 million, with the drainage work amounting to around $100,000. The repairs are being funded through a special assessment that’s been in place since 2019 and is scheduled to end in September 2024. Maintenance has also been permanently raised to meet the additional costs.
The unusually heavy storms earlier this fall have been an acid test for the new drainage system. It passed with flying colors, finally putting an end to the flooding in the lobby — and more than 30 years of frustration for the board. “As the world seems to be flooding more, we seem to be flooding less,” DiMartini says. “It’s an issue we’ve finally tackled.”
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