2008-05-30 / Top Stories

DBP Residents Face $teep Increase

By Nicholas Briano

Residents at the Dayton Beach Park apartments, already furious that their management company neglected to pay more than $1 million in water bills, are facing a steep 22 percent maintenance fee increase that their board says is necessary in order to narrow the co-op's financial deficit.

Dayton Beach Park board of director's member and shareholder watchdog, Jennifer Grady, told The Wave this week about the board's intent to file a request for the steep maintenance fee increase with the department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) to take effect by July.

The residents of the Dayton Beach Park apartments, which consist of 8100, 8200, 8400, 8600 and 8800 Shore Front Parkway in Rockaway Park, learned in April from published reports that they owed the city more than $1.2 million in past due water bills, a debt of which residents were not previously aware.

The details of the fee increase come on the heels of a closed-door, May 5 board of directors meeting, at which two different motions were passed, both resulting in a drastic maintenance fee increase for the residents. HPD will have to approve one of the two motions in order for the rate increase to take place.

Insiders say that HPD will most likely approve an increase because of the huge debt the corporation owes to the city.

The first is a motion presented by board member Anne Lyons that would involve increases of 15 percent this year, and seven percent the following year. For the average DBP resident, currently paying $720 a month, his or her unit would increase in cost by 2009 to $885.

The second motion, presented by board member Neil MacLeod, called for a one-time assessment or payment of 11.4 percent of a resident's yearly maintenance bill, followed by an 11.4 percent increase in 2009. Under this plan, a shareholder's present total yearly maintenance of $8,640, or $720 per month, would require residents to make a one-time payment of $964, followed by monthly payments in 2009 of $802 per month.

If the deficit is not closed with the two increases, the motion calls for another 2 percent hike each year thereafter.

Approving either motion will be sure to have residents in an uproar, Grady says.

"People don't want either increase," Grady explained this week. "People paid their money for the bills and now they will make us pay this increase. It is not right."

Residents will have a chance to voice their opinions prior to any increase being enforced by HPD, at a public hearing held in the upcoming weeks at Dayton Beach Park. No formal announcement of the date of the hearing has been made.

"Why should we have to pay," Grady said. "Find the $1.2 million you already took from us."

Grady vows to fight this until the end and is mobilizing with other shareholders in an attempt to find the truth about where their money really went.

"There has been gross mismanagement here," she said. "Now we have to fight this."

Grady has gotten together nearly 300 shareholders from Dayton Beach Park. They call themselves Dayton Beach Shareholders Association (DBSA). She says attorneys and local elected officials are working with them to exercise their legal rights as shareholders.

Grady and the DBSA are calling for three things. First, they want a full forensic audit of Dayton Beach Park's financial records for the past ten years.

That, she believes, will provide most of the answers to the shareholders' questions.

"We must also fire the management company," Grady said. "If this wasn't in the paper we would never have found out."

Grady also believes there must be changes in the co-op's bylaws that would limit the number of years someone could serve on the board.

"Seven of the 15 board of directors have been on there for more than 20 years," she said. "Stockholders must get together and remove these members and not be victims of this foolishness anymore."

Grady states that Dayton Beach Park is under investigation by the Far Rockaway branch of the NAACP for racial bias ranging from the board of director positions to waiting list procedures.

Board member Hazel McLean is also furious at the recent decision made by the board at its May 5 meeting, from which McLean and Grady were suspended, due to "disruptive behavior." However, McLean and Grady don't think that was the real reason.

"They didn't want us to vote against the increase," Grady said.

"I have an obligation to the shareholders that voted me in," McLean insisted. "I have to represent their best interests and I was deprived the right to perform my due share of responsibilities in a very crucial decision."

Despite a huge financial deficit, McLean still feels an increase could have been avoided.

"Board members readily voted for an increase without exploring other options," McLean said.

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