New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

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Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, is Howard Beach, Queens, co-op board vice president Ellen Di Stefano Buonpastore one of the most foulmouthed in New York City? We can't say, but Howard Thompson of WPIX's "Help Me Howard" segment has a report about her, stranded seniors and an elevator repair that will astonish you. Plus, what happened to the super at The Plaza's condominiums? What's the latest in the ongoing saga of the Brighton Beach boardwalk bathrooms? Did you know boards can help resolve disputes through free mediation? And where is Mad Men man Jon Hamm hanging his hat?

"You can do it. We can help." So goes the motto of a home-improvement chain. And that very ethos applied to Winston Tower, at 143-51 Roosevelt Avenue in Flushing, where the condo board of that 135-unit building did its city-mandated energy benchmarking in-house instead of hiring an outside firm.

"The benchmarking software is not as user-friendly as the city claims, but we did it ourselves," says veteran board-member Brook Haberman, who adds that the board had been active in energy saving even before the city unveiled its Greener, Greater Buildings Plan (GGBP) a few years ago.

Barry Klitsberg, co-op board president of the Quality and Ruskin Apartments at 10525 67th Avenue in Queens, New York City, jokingly describes his job as "a kind of purgatory." Raised in the borough, in a Long Island City housing project and then other areas, he says, perhaps not so jokingly, that his favorite expressions are "Don't get mad, get even" and "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer." He spoke with Habitat editorial director Tom Soter.

The condo board at Brook Haberman's building is pretty savvy. At least, that's what David Grumet thinks. Grumet is the director of operations at iAG Energy, a firm that performs energy audits, and he should know. He's dealt with dozens of boards in the last year doing what he did for Haberman's building: tracking down energy failings in accordance with recent laws.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, why didn't anyone tell Co-op City's residents there were outbreaks of Legionnaires' Disease? Why did a community board recommend a restaurateur's liquor license over the objections of people living in the same building? And why did a smokers'-rights group butt out of a condo forum? Plus: You can't take your kid's stroller into the passenger elevator? Seriously? 

The condo board at Brook Haberman's building is pretty savvy. At least, that's what David Grumet thinks. Grumet is the director of operations at iAG Energy, a firm that performs energy audits, and he should know. He's dealt with dozens of boards in the last year doing what he did for Haberman's building: tracking down energy failings in accordance with recent laws.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, the Realty Advisory Board is negotiating on behalf of boards and landlords as it continues contract talks with the union representing doormen and other building workers. New York State has some questions about NYSERDA money at Co-op City. A Queens co-op seeks money to repair a Sandy-battered seawall. And who's the best building manager and which is the best property-management company in New York. Well, there are many factors consider including continuity of leadership, responsiveness to clients, stability, experience, expertise, sufficient staffing and industry reputation and good will. Or you could just go check out the NYARM Awards.

Serving on a board is challenging. Those challenges run the gamut, from ephemeral issues (like creating harmony out of disharmony among board members) to more nuts-and-bolts kinds of stuff (like fixing a garage leak). I should know. I have spent several years coping with a multitude of problems as the president of my co-op board.

Her name was Kim and she lived in Forest Hills, Queens, in a 100-unit cooperative. She was on the co-op board and was talking, with great animation, about a shareholder who had "disappeared" and mysteriously left his apartment empty. My ears perked up. Was this a story of drama and intrigue, one that would offer new insights into board life?

As the second storm of the week hit New York City and its environs, some managers say calcium chloride, or sidewalk salt, is in short supply. "We are running out," said Pamela DeLorme, president of Delkap Management, based in Howard Beach, Queens. "We bought a few thousand bags before the season began, but with the frequent storms, the substance is now in short supply." Delkap obtained about 2,000 bags of salt two weeks ago.

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