2009-09-25 / Top Stories

Ocean Village Experiences Another Blackout

By Miriam Rosenberg

Generators, like this one are providing electricity for residents on the Beach 59 Street side of the complex. Generators, like this one are providing electricity for residents on the Beach 59 Street side of the complex. Life has not been easy for the residents of the Beach 59 Street side of the Ocean Village complex. For the past month they have been receiving their electricity by way of generators after power went out in August.

According to Bobbie Blair, the president of the Ocean Village Tenants Association, the blackout started on August 15. Since then, tenants in the 11-story Building 3 and the four-story town houses on the Beach 59 Street side have had to live with the uncertainty of when they would be back online with LIPA, and sickening fumes from the generators.

On Wednesday, an electrician working at the site told Blair, "It's going to take a long time before they're done." He said that they're running into so many problems [such as] the roof leaking, which is causing the water to blow out the switches." Blair was also told that, "every time they try to fix one problem they run into another."

This is contradictory to the e-mail Blair says the building manager for R.Y. Management Co., Inc., Derrick Edmonds, sent her last week. In that correspondence, Edmonds informed her that the buildings should be back online by the middle of this week.

The month-long wait is also quite different from what Blair and her fellow tenants were told shortly after the blackout began. "About three days after the blackout we met with the manager and an electrician and they said it would take about two weeks [to fix]," said Blair earlier this week.

She added, "Evidently, some transformers and cable blew up. Now it has been a month. People are complaining of feeling weak and getting headaches from the [generator] fumes."

Currently there are at least five generators on the Ocean Village site on Beach 59 Street - one next to Building 3 and several others just outside the windows of the four-story townhouses on the complex, said Blair.

Harrison Leifer DiMarco Public Relations represents R.Y. Management. Donald Miller, the vice president of public relations for the PR company, addressed the reason for the month-long disconnection from LIPA.

"We believe the problem was caused at the street level where LIPA connects with our equipment," said Miller in an e-mail on Wednesday. "When the problem first occurred, portable generators were brought on-site to provide power and minimize any inconvenience until the situation could be fixed, and we appreciate our residents' patience during this time." Miller repeated Edmonds' timeline for the completion of repairs by replying, "We expect normal power to be restored by the end of the week." In a separate phone conversation, Miller said that when the building is reconnected to LIPA, the generators would be removed. "We just need a clean bill of health from the buildings department," added Miller.

Blackouts are not new to Ocean Village. In July 2005, nearly 450 of the more than 1,000 residents who live in the complex were without power for nearly three days. Electricity wasn't restored until the management company borrowed generators from LIPA. Tenants relied on those generators for nearly two weeks before repairs were completed and the complex was back online with LIPA.

At a November 2005 meeting between tenants and representatives of R.Y. Management Co., residents were told by Robert Vaccarello, the president of R.Y Management, that a deteriorated 37-year-old underground feed line was found at the time of the blackout. Vaccarello also said the management company was working with the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development "to identify feed lines and come up with a plan to do periodic maintenance on the lines," to ensure similar blackouts do not happen. Yet, the problems seem to be continuing.

"Ocean Village and blackouts are a continuing thing," said Blair. "When food is lost we don't get reimbursed. They say to talk to the insurance company for LIPA. LIPA has said it is not their fault. Somebody needs to get straight answers for the tenants."

Miller was asked what the management company believes is the cause for the so many Ocean Village blackouts.

"Because of the proximity to the ocean and the corrosive nature of saltwater, equipment has shorter than expected life spans and it's not easy to predict when, or if, they may fail. As a matter of routine maintenance, we inspect electrical equipment periodically and make repairs, or replace critical components as needed." Miller added that the management company does "periodic inspections" on feed lines that connect LIPA to Ocean Village buildings.

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