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3-Year-Old 'Temporary' Boiler Has Sutton Place Tenants Steaming Mad

By Amy Zimmer | May 29, 2014 12:13pm | Updated on May 30, 2014 4:36pm
 Residents of the enclave are angry at a building's temporary boiler parked outside for three years.
'Temporary' Boiler Causes Stink in Sutton Place
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SUTTON PLACE — River Court, a luxury high-rise rental amid some of the East Side's most exclusive co-ops, has left tenants steaming over a mobile boiler the building's left parked outside for more than three years.

Neighbors say the "temporary" boiler — which the building got city permission to install in 2011 — has racked up violations and has been spewing noise and noxious odors into their tony enclave even as the building management refuses to tell them why it's still there.

"The smell was so bad at lunchtime that I felt nauseous while sitting at my table, and I didn't have my window open," recounted Donna Felice, who lives next door to River Court at Sutton House, where her 11th floor apartment overlooks the mobile boiler.

She said she hasn't been able to open her windows and enjoy the breezes coming off the river for more than a year now because of the smoke and odors from the boiler.

"When I babysat my 1-year-old niece last September, I sealed the house so she wouldn't smell that stuff," Felice said. "I put tape over the window where it opens. A lot of people have called 311. We're wasting an awful lot of city resources."

According to the DOB, there is no time limit for temporary boilers to be used in the city.

"The mobile boiler is required until permanent repairs by the property owner are completed," DOB spokeswoman Kelly Magee said.

Permits to install two new boilers were approved in December 2013 at a cost of $1.14 million, according to DOB records.

The building management requested an inspection of the work Wednesday, possibly setting the stage for the temporary boiler to finally be removed.

Representatives from S&M Enterprises, the management company for River Court — where one-bedroom units start at $5,000 a month and two-bedrooms start at $7,000 — repeatedly refused to comment both over the phone and in person at their 52nd street offices.

While neighbors are eager for the boiler to finally be taken away, they say they're outraged by the headache they've been forced to endure for the past three years.

The high-rise has four serious open violations linked to the boiler, dating back to 2012, including for a possible oil leak from a fuel burner, according to Department of Buildings records.  The building paid nearly $2,750 in fines because of boiler violations, records show.

In addition, locals complain the boiler has been causing traffic accidents since it was moved from the front of River Court, a 37-story tower at 429 E. 52nd St., in the cul-de-sac between First Avenue and the East River, anchored by the legendary River House to the building's back end, on East 53rd Street.

A Sutton House doorman said that there have been several accidents involving cars coming out of parking garages whose views are blocked by the mobile boiler, which now obstructs traffic from an exit ramp from the FDR Drive.

"There are a lot of accidents because people coming from the garage can't see. It blocks their view," said the doorman, whose name was withheld for fear of retaliation, who added that there are many small children in the area.

City Councilman Dan Garodnick, who represents the area, said his office has fielded a number of complaints about the "chemical smell" from the boiler. He recently fired off a letter asking the company when it planned to have its permanent boiler up-and-running.

"We don't have clarity with a timeline or plans for resolution all the while it's taking up public space," said Garodnick, who is considering legislation to limit the amount of time mobile temporary boilers use public space. "Temporary should mean temporary."