November 2010 Archives

Fall 2010 Board Updates

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Boiler Project in Construction Phase

The building's original 1963 boiler has been dismantled and removed. The boiler room has been cleaned, prepped, and a new concrete base has been installed. The main steel pieces of our new boiler are already on site and will be put together this week. Adjustments have been made to our mobile boiler (on the street) so as to avoid the recent over-heating and subsequent under-heating. One of the best new features of our new boiler system will be wireless thermostats in select apartments that will, for the first time in our buildings' history, let the new boiler know the actual temperature INSIDE our building to determine how much heat to create. Our old boiler (and current mobile unit) only know the outside temperature, which is a far less efficient way of determining when to turn itself on and off. We are looking forward to the likely savings we will get from less oil usage by the new more efficient system. The board appreciates all of your patience during this construction.


Hallway Project Approaching Construction Phase 2

Our hallway design is about to go to construction. A contractor has been chosen, and they have been in our building many times over the past few weeks to work with us to flesh out the details of our existing design, which includes picking specific paint colors, molding shapes, taking measurements, and planning the project timing. We are about to order the carpet for the project, which has a 13-week lead time to be manufactured to our specifications. This means that hallway renovation construction will likely take place in or around March 2011. Apartment door exteriors will all be painted, and will need to be open during their painting and 6-hour drying. We will post schedules asking for your availability or permission to have your apartment doors open for long enough for the paint to dry properly. In addition, we will be swapping your main entry door external knobs and chime/viewers with brand new silver-colored ones to match the new silver door kick plates to be installed and chrome-rimmed lighting fixtures already installed during phase 1 last year.


Art Committee (Lobby Committe, see comments)--Coming Soon!

The board is planning to gather together a committee to take charge of improving our lobby (and stairwells) with various art projects, including a replacement of the large painting in our lobby sitting area. At this point, ideas of all types are being collected. So far, current ideas include temporary installations for artists within our community to compete for and win, to more permanent installations of neighborhood historic photos, local/building artist paintings, decorative framed mirrors, etc. We are even considering framing squares of our soon-to-be historic wallpaper somewhere in our building with plaques that read "1963-2011". If you have an idea to add, please e-mail it to If you would like to join this future committee, please let us know. Are you a photographer, painter, sculptor, designer? If you know of any affordable or discount resources that could help with this type of project, we are all ears. Let's get our collective creativity in gear while improving our public spaces.


Entire Board Attending CNYC Co-Op and Condo Housing Conference 2010

In what may be a world-record, your entire 5-member board of directors, including Leon, our Building/Property Manager, are ALL attending this year's annual CNYC Housing Conference, where they will be attending seminars all day (8:30am to 4:30pm) on topics relevant to our building such as "Planning Strategies for Redecorating Public Spaces," "Solving Noise Issues: Management Role," "A Green Roof for Your Building," "Plants that Thrive in an Urban Environment," "Your Roof and Exterior Walls," and "Property Tax Q&A." These seminars are extremely helpful in keeping our board up to date with the latest in building operation, management, upkeep, improvement, and relations. What's great about sending such a large group from our building, in addition to being a result of an extremely active board of directors, is that we will then get to take many of their extremely informative seminars and subsequently compare notes, greatly increasing the amount of knowledge we bring back to our building collectively this year.


Local Law 11 and Leak Repair Work--Update

The board has selected the engineer who designed our new boiler to survey our building and create a standardized bid form for us to solicit bids from contractors to do our Local Law 11 2011 required work and repair select locations that have been found to be slowly leaking into a few 6th floor apartments. The report is expected this winter so that we may gather bids, pick a contractor, and have actual repairs begin in the Spring of 2011. In addition, we are asking this engineer to give us information about the load-bearing capacity of our roof so that we may plan to install a green roof within the next few years, should the roof be found to be capable of supporting the weight. In addition, as the final step of this repair work, we plan to paint our roof in super-reflective and insulating white-roof paint to reduce our upper-floor heat in the summer months.


Sprinkler System to Be Installed in Front Gardens

The board has approved funding for an in-ground sprinkler system to be installed in our street-side gardens to replace the make-shift hoses with punctures currently in use. As our garden committee continues to invest in multi-year plantings, we can help protect the value of those investments by keeping them appropriately hydrated so that they survive the hot and dry days of the summer months. The sprinkler heads will be custom-installed to spray water where needed, will retract into the ground when not in use, and will be operated on a timer, all of which should improve the efficiency of and reduce some of the costs of our current garden upkeep.

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A Note About our Google Group
Please remember that our Google Group is meant to be a forum for neighbors to connect with one another other. It doesn't replace the normal channels for contacting the board or building. If you have a question for the board or the building or the board, it's best to email at

Also, there's been a lot of moving in our building. If you know someone who's new and may not be aware of our Google Group, please encourage them to reach out to with their name and their apartment number so that we can sign them up. Similarly, if you've moved and want to be removed, you can either edit your membership on your own or email me at the address above.

New Mortgage for the Building
The board of directors has begun the process of obtaining our building's next mortgage.  We collectively own this mortgage through our ownership of shares of our building's corporation, and pay for it via about 10% of our monthly maintenance. Our existing mortgage "balloons" (the entire principal is due) at the end of this year, requiring a new mortgage to be obtained. The new mortgage will be a 10 year balloon mortgage, meaning the entire principal is due on the last day of the 10th year, with a 25 year amortization schedule, which means the principal and interest during those 10 years are calculated as if we had a 25 year mortgage. This way, the building will actually pay down the principal a little faster than we have been in the past, and prevent our building's mortgage debt from accumulating indefinitely. Our new mortgage will also be significantly larger than the principal of our last mortgage, allowing us to replenish our reserves, AND pay for the new boiler, and the leak/Local Law 11 work planned for 2011 without any assessments or maintenance increases at this time. We can afford to do all of this with little change in our annual expenses as we are very lucky to be locking in a historically-low interest rate (below 5%) for the next 10 years, during which time interest rates are expected to be increasing. The board believes the terms of this new mortgage put us on as sound a financial footing as can be given our current financial snapshot and our best educated guesses about our financial future from today's perspective.

Fios Live in our Building
Thank you to all residents for your patience during this work.  You can sign up for your own individual cable and/or internet and/or phone plan with Verizon Fios. Their rates are competitive with Cablevision and they, in most cases, do NOT require a minimum time length of contract, regardless of the deluge of Cablevision advertisements to the contrary. Read Andrew's entry from July 28th for more info. If you have any personal experiences with Fios in our building that you would like to share, please do so by e-mailing the board at

Leak Project Update and Local Law 11 2011 Work
In an effort to save costs, we are combining the upcoming roof and 6th floor leak remediation project with our next cycle of Local Law 11 roof and facade repair work. An engineer has finished his plans and is about to give us a list of itemized repairs that we can use to solicit bids from potential contractors. We'll keep you updated as this process moves forward. It will include the construction of a "sidewalk bridge" like the one you may currently notice in front of 1818 Newkirk Avenue.

Boiler Asbestos has Been Abated
We are currently getting our hot water from the heater in our garden, and it seems to be providing hot water at plenty of pressure. The boiler is off line and all asbestos has been removed from the insulation in our boiler room. We are in contract with "Positive," our boiler contractor. Our new boiler should be on-line in time for the the 2010-2011 winter heating season.

White Roof Being Explored
The board is currently investigating the potential benefits of a "white roof." After the leak repairs and Local Law 11 work is done, we may be able to extend the life of our existing roof membrane by painting all 14,000 square feet with a primer and top coat of specialty white-roof paint that includes small glass beads that insulates our roof from the heat that gets past the reflective white surface, significantly cooling our roof and lowering the cost of our upper floor residents' air conditioning. Stay tuned for more information about this potential money-saving environmentally healthy project.

The opinions expressed here are those of the authors only. They do not necessarily reflect the positions or opinions of the 616 East 18 St. Owners Corporation, any of its staff members or residents, or Maxx Management.

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