2005-11-04 / Columnists

Ocean Village Residents Air Grievances At Meeting

Bobbi Blair, the vice president of the Ocean Village Tenant Association asks Vaccarello about one of the many concerns that grew out of this summer’s power outage. Photos by Miriam RosenbergBobbi Blair, the vice president of the Ocean Village Tenant Association asks Vaccarello about one of the many concerns that grew out of this summer’s power outage. Photos by Miriam Rosenberg By Miriam Rosenberg Contributing Editor

Residents at Ocean Village confronted representatives of R. Y. Management Co., Inc., who manages the building complex, about the power outage in July that caused nearly 450 tenants to live without electricity and water for almost three days. At the October 24 meeting, Robert Vaccarello, the vice president of the management company, did his best to answer the complaints growing out of a blackout that resulted in tenants having to rely on generators for nearly two weeks after the July 17 power outage.

An overflowing crowd attends the October 24 tenant meeting at Ocean Village.
An overflowing crowd attends the October 24 tenant meeting at Ocean Village. “[We are here] to get some real answers to serious problems at Ocean Village,” said Bobbi Blair, the vice president of the Ocean Village Tenant Association. “We put together a list of questions important to the people in this room.”

While telling everyone in the packed room that the cause of the blackout was unknown, Vaccarello talked about a deteriorated 37 year-old underground feed line found at the time of the blackout.

Ed Williams of the local NAACP confronts vice president Robert Vaccarello of R.Y. Management Company about why preventive maintenance was not done to prevent the July 17 blackout.Ed Williams of the local NAACP confronts vice president Robert Vaccarello of R.Y. Management Company about why preventive maintenance was not done to prevent the July 17 blackout. “There were three areas in the line that were deteriorated,” he said. “We did an infrared [check] to make sure there were no more problems.”

He said the management company is working with housing “to identify feed lines and come up with a plan to do periodic maintenance on the lines,” to ensure similar blackouts do not happen again.

Vaccarello then apologized to the tenants and said “We tried to get generators in within 24 hours. We tried to deal with it the best we could.”

In response to a question about reimbursement for losses (such as food) resulting from the blackout, Vaccarello explained that the management company must wait until claims make their way through various insurance carriers.

Vaccarello, saying the management company took a big hit, told the residents it cost R. Y. Management over $400,000 to get the building back online.

“There will be another meeting once we have the information on how credit will be sent out,” he said. “We don’t know how we’re getting credit. We know it is a big issue. People lost stuff in their apartments.”

Vaccarello also said the company has no plans to buy back-up generators for Ocean Village. He said the cost of generators for one building would be $600,000, and $4 million for the whole complex. R. Y. Management is looking to do maintenance on the electrical system already in place.

“The building doesn’t have those funds. We need to address the current system to make sure the current system doesn’t go out,” Vaccarello said.

Ed Williams, of the local NAACP, was at Ocean Village during the blackout when people couldn’t use the elevators and their food was rotting. He found Vaccarello’s answers unacceptable.

“The cost to these people is greater than your cost,” said Williams, who suggested that R.Y. Management invest in preventive maintenance. You get money from HUD and other agencies.

“[We] want some real answers,” concluded Williams.

Vaccarello tried to counter Williams’ comments.

“There was never anything in the budget for preventive maintenance [on the] feed lines,” said Vaccarello. “We are trying to come up with a plan. Whatever we can get from reimbursement we will forward on.”

In addition, tenants confronted Vaccarello on the constant problems with the elevators in the buildings.

Vaccarello told residents the installation of new elevators was due to begin on October 31. He said all the new elevators should be online by either January or February.

Others who attended the meeting were Assemblywoman Michelle Titus, Councilman James Sanders Jr., and representatives for Congressman Gregory Meeks and State Senator Malcolm Smith.

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