New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

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The Kindness of Strangers

Kew Gardens

Friends of the Elevator-less
Jan. 9, 2017

There are many ways for co-op and condo boards to minimize inconvenience when an elevator in a multi-elevator building has to be shut down for repairs or replacement. When the building has only one elevator – and a large population of senior citizens – a large challenge becomes massive.

At a building in Kew Gardens, Queens, help has come from an unexpected source: the kindness of strangers.

A sign was posted on the lone elevator in the six-story building on Austin Street near 84th Road on Dec. 7, announcing that the elevator would be out of service for six weeks, until Jan. 21, for major repairs. There was no question that the balky elevator, in service since the building was erected in the 1950s, needed to be overhauled.

"It was very dangerous," one resident tells DNAinfo, speaking on condition of anonymity. "Sometimes it stopped and you had to jump out because it would stop above the floor level."

Word soon spread in the neighborhood via Facebook that many elderly residents of the building, unable to negotiate stairs, were stranded inside their apartments. “I printed 40 fliers to put under the tenants’ doors offering to (run) errands,” says Michele Dore, who lives nearby. Cynthia Riba, who lives in the building, also left notes on doors offering help. She has been carrying groceries and other heavy bags up the stairs for elderly residents.

Though this story has its feel-good element, it is also a reminder to co-op and condo boards that they need to work to minimize inconvenience when undertaking an elevator job. They won’t always be able to fall back on the kindness of strangers.

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