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Salt in Short Supply as Second Storm of Week Taxes Co-op / Condo Resources

Tom Soter in Building Operations on February 5, 2014

New York City, Howard Beach, Greenwich Village

Feb. 5, 2014

She reported that Delkap was now also using urea, or carbamide, an organic fertilizer that is less costly than salt and more available. "It also is good for the grass under the snow," she added.

Others had stocked up on salt last August. Mitchell Barry, president of Century Management, recalled that his firm ordered plenty of calcium chloride for all its buildings at a bulk rate.

Mr. Freeze

Beyond that, management firms have been preparing their buildings as best they can. For today's storm, which started as snow then turned to freezing rain and slush, Century's superintendents and staff inspected the storm drains to be certain they were clear of impediments that might back up water. They also checked the pipes to make sure they were insulated against freezing water, which could expand and cause leaks.

The week before the first storm of the week, Century sent out an e-mail blast to all its clients, offering preparation tips. For example, the company reminded everyone to make sure all windows were shut, since cold air could get into the bathroom and freeze the pipes. Management kept the slop sink dripping during the night and asked residents to run water — just a drip — throughout the cold night in order to keep water circulating so it wouldn't freeze. "We do it enough to keep the pipes working, but not enough to waste water."

The firm also practiced preventive maintenance on nearby trees, trimming the branches so there was less opportunity for dangerous icicles to form — or for the tree to be weighted down with ice and fall over.

Snow Far, So Good 

Then there was the equipment. Managers say that hand- and car-driven snow-blowers are being pushed to the max. With two storms in under a week — following a major storm the week before — "the equipment is starting to break down," Delorme said. "It's been used and used. You have to be on top of it."

Many residents are unaware of the efforts being taken. "We have a super, two porters, and two doormen, and they are out there with shovels," Marti Dressler, a co-op board member in a 128-unit building in Forest Hills, Queens, said. "Snow-blowers are removing snow and it seems like we have plenty of salt." 

"Our super and porter were out there first thing," said Jerry Goldstein, board president of an 80-unit co-op in Greenwich Village. "We have the cleanest street around."

All of which is business as usual, for as Barry said: "A storm is a storm is a storm. It's a continuing battle."


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