New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine October 2020 free digital issue




A Calamity That Produced Cohesion

Tom Soter in Bricks & Bucks


Town N Harbor

Town N Harbor's rebuilt bulkhead and roadway ready for repaving (image courtesy of Fairfield Properties)

Fred Brand wasn’t there at the start, but he’ll certainly be there at the finish.

As board president (and now vice president) of the 160-unit Town N Harbor co-op in Freeport, Long Island, Brand has been heavily involved in a major project over the last three years, made necessary after Hurricane Sandy struck in October 2012. He has been the board’s point person in the replacement of the co-op’s main roadway and parking lots, as well as its three bulkheads – retaining walls designed to prevent the waters of Baldwin Bay from flooding the property.

Town N Harbor is a two-building garden apartment complex, with roughly 80 units in each building. The aging bulkheads were actually slated to be replaced four years ago, and after the storm that task became urgent. “The bulkheads were compromised,” says John Shewchuk, the co-op’s managing agent from Fairfield Properties, adding that half of the apartments had to be totally rebuilt after taking on four feet of water.

“In order to replace the bulkheads,” Shewchuk says, “there was quite a bit of excavation [that had to be done] along the roadway. I suggested to the board that they go with an engineer to write the specs.”

The board demurred. As president Brand wrote in an e-mail to Alvin Wasserman, director of asset management at Fairfield, on June 26 of this year: “When we began planning this large project… [John] was adamant that we needed the expertise of an engineer to review our drainage, plan our slope and pitch, and supervise the project. We resisted, he persisted, and, fortunately for us, he won the day.”

Shewchuk and the board interviewed four engineering firms and chose H2M. “They felt very comfortable with them,” says Shewchuk. “Cost had something to do with it, but they weren't the lowest and they weren't the highest. They were probably right in the middle.”

Next came the hard part: the coordination and planning efforts required to get the work done. That fell into the lap of Jaime Gross, a Fairfield administrative assistant who had to coordinate getting residents to clear parked cars off the roadway so that the contractor, Pioneer Asphalt, could go to work.

“I do not have to tell you the difficulty of the logistics of notifying 120 drivers of alternative spaces, communicating new traffic plans, etc.,” Brand wrote to Wasserman, recalling that he had sent Gross “five forms and a long community letter together with numerous individual e-mail assignments, etc. I sent them all to her at 9 a.m. Thursday and they were completed, reviewed, copied, and ready for distribution by lunch. Every project, every request, every time.”

The bulkhead replacement cost just over $1 million, and the roadway work was an additional $43,150, notes Shewchuk – all covered by the reserve fund. The bulkhead replacement began two years ago and should be completed by the fall. The repaving of the road took place in July.

The experience, as challenging as it was, has brought the community together. “When we first started working together in September 2013,” wrote Brand in a May 2015 e-mail to Shewchuk, “I shared with…you what a fractured community this was after Sandy. In small steps, this is changing for the better.” 

PROJECT PLAYERS – MANAGER: John Shewchuck, Fairfield Properties. ENGINEER: H2M. CONTRACTORS: Pioneer Asphalt (roadway); Docks Unlimited (bulkhead).

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