New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide




After Sandy, A Long Beach Co-op Replaces its Generator

Tom Soter in Bricks & Bucks

Long Beach, Long Island

Neptune Towers, Long Beach, N.Y. Copyright © 2015 - Keystone Realty
Neptune Towers, Long Beach, N.Y. 

The board hired an engineer to analyze the situation and present it with options. "We weren't sure what loads the generator was serving," explains Louis. "We had a pretty good idea, but we wanted to see if we should add additional loads to the unit, based on our experience with Sandy. We also wanted to 'flood-proof' it [because] it's at the street level in our electrical distribution room. We wanted to raise it up about 30 inches off the floor, just in case the area [got] flooded."

It is a bigger generator than its predecessor — 80 kw (up from 60 kw) — and will be able to take on more loads in a crisis, including the emergency lighting, the fire alarm system, the boilers, the heating system, and the water pumps. Garage lighting and one elevator have also been added to the emergency circuit as well.

The board interviewed five engineering firms. Four of them were "traditional," Louis says, and one, Brandon Controls — suggested by two board members who had used the company before — was a "design-build" shop. 

Typically in such situations, a board will hire an engineer, who prepares the job specifications and then sends out a request for proposals to a number of contractors, who in turn, submit sealed bids for the job.

To save money on the $100,000 project, the Neptune Towers board decided to go with Brandon, the design-build operation. "We went that route because we were comfortable doing it that way. It was more streamlined, in terms of getting the work underway," Louis adds. "We dealt with only one entity, the engineer/contractor."

Brandon would design the generator and then hire the contractors to install it. These would all be drawn from a pool of people who regularly worked with the firm — "pre-qualified," Louis says — and they would submit sealed bids. This saved time, Louis explains, because instead of having to wait for all the designs to be finished before going to bid, the engineer "bid pieces of the job as he was designing them."

The project, which Wolf says was funded from the reserve account, took eight months. The management company and the board's construction committee had regular contact with the engineer as the job progressed. There were two significant problems that cropped up, says Louis: "Our gas pressure was not where we thought it would be, so some additional work had to be done to change it to our gas line." Also, the door had to be expanded (temporarily) to bring in the generator.

Louis, who is retired, worked in capital program management at John F. Kennedy International Airport for 25 years, and admits his experience helped, but he adds that there are other governmental and industry people on the nine-member board "who are knowledgeable and bring that knowledge to the table, which is what makes it work so well for us."


John Wolf, president, Alexander Wolf & Company

Rich Louis, board president

Brandon Controls, engineering firm 


Photo copyright © 2015 - Keystone Realty

For more, see our Site Map or join our Archive >>

Ask the Experts

learn more

Learn all the basics of NYC co-op and condo management, with straight talk from heavy hitters in the field of co-op or condo apartments

Professionals in some of the key fields of co-op and condo board governance and building management answer common questions in their areas of expertise

Source Guide

see the guide

Looking for a vendor?