HABITAT

HOWARD BEACH

Queens co-op gets job done on time and under budget.

Lindenwood Village Revisited

Written by Bill Morris on August 09, 2016

Howard Beach

A Queens co-op board corrects the mistakes of self-mismanagement.

Boards need to know when to let go of fees.

 

In April of 2014, shareholders in the 146-unit Lindenwood Village co-op in Howard Beach, Queens, got the worst kind of news from their accountant. The self-managed co-op’s office manager had siphoned $88,000 out of the co-op’s coffers.

Before long, a group of concerned shareholders got control of the board. This is the story of how they cleaned house.

 

Sometimes, what initially appeared to be a curse turns out to be a blessing. This was the case at Lindenwood Village, a 146-unit co-op in Howard Beach, Queens, where the discovery of a theft by the office manager led to a major house-cleaning that helped salvage what had been a sinking ship.

But it wasn’t painless, and it wasn’t easy.

As New York real estate scams go, this one was not staggeringly lucrative, but it gets bonus points for creativity and audacity. It was a scam made possible by the fact that, for years, the Lindenwood Village (Section D) co-op in Howard Beach, Queens, was run like a personal fiefdom by the board’s vice president, Ellen Buonpastore.

But this co-op wasn’t just self-managed. It was thoroughly self mis-managed.

Any board member will tell you that elevator replacement is a major capitol project, and that putting out bids, choosing a contractor, waiting on parts and then doing the actual work can take months. And any board member will tell you that standard repairs should just take a day or three.

Somewhere in the middle of all that is what WPIX-TV "Help Me Howard" reporter Howard Thompson, writing on the station's website, calls an elevator "renovation" at the Dorchester I, part of the two-building Dorchester co-op complex in Howard Beach, Queens. Despite the co-op's large and fragile senior population, that renovation of the building's sole elevator dragged on for five long months. (This followed the Dorchester II not having a working elevator for months earlier this year, when Thompson encountered a vulgar, foul-mouthed secretary and a belligerent board vice president.) If we may hazard a tip, from the Habitat archives: Dorchester board! You can expedite elevator repairs! And given shareholders like 99-year-old Lou Hendelman, a cancer-stricken retired New York firefighter, perhaps that's something to be considered.

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?

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.

Boards borrow money. They have to, what with Local Law 11 requirements, aging buildings and rising costs. But where do they find the money? Creative boards look in creative places. When faced with needed repairs, for instance, a Howard Beach condo in Queens first tried an assessment and then, realizing the costs were too heavy for many unit-owners, found a way to refinance an existing loan (never an easy task for a condo). A Nassau County co-op board is seeking a combination of measures: a grant from the New York State Energy and Research Authority (NYSERDA), possible assessments, and some money from the local government. In part one of this two-part guide to refinancing creatively, we told you about three co-op boards who worked out great mortgages. Now we'll clue you in on three co-op and condo boards who worked out great loans.

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