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Astoria Co-op Tenants Living Without Gas or Hot Water For More Than a Month

 Eight of the sixteen buildings at the Acropolis Gardens had their gas shut off at the end of April.
Eight of the sixteen buildings at the Acropolis Gardens had their gas shut off at the end of April.
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DNAinfo/Jeanmarie Evelly

DITMARS — Tenants at eight buildings in a co-op development in Astoria have been without cooking gas or hot water for more than a month, after Con Edison cut service to the buildings at the end of April.

Residents of half of the buildings in the Acropolis Gardens development, which takes up an entire block along 33rd and 35th streets between Ditmars Boulevard and 21st Avenue, said they haven't been able to use their stoves or take a hot shower in more than a month.

"It's a nightmare — there's no other way to describe it," said Nicholas Alexander, 34, who says he and his wife have been using a rice cooker and a hot plate to prepare their meals. "Complaints fall on deaf ears."

Con Edison shut off gas in the eight buildings in the complex on April 29, after workers responding to a small fire on the property observed "unauthorized piping," according to a spokesman for the utility company.

"The management company must complete plumbing work and make the buildings safe before we can restore service," the spokesman said.

But the management company blamed Con Edison, saying the company shut off the gas after mistaking a valve that was installed two years ago for a recent installation, according to Steve Osman of Metropolitan Pacific Properties.

"This is a ConEd screw up...They had no business turning our gas off," Osman said, saying they had a permit for the work that was done two years back. "We had no gas leak and all work was permitted."

In letters to tenants posted around the complex, the management company said it needed to test the gas lines of each building, as well as replace all the meters before service will be restored. One letter states the gas should be back on by April 19, but as of Tuesday afternoon residents were still living without it.

"It is an inconvenience, but it's not an inconvenience we caused," Osman said, noting they're doing "everything possible" to get the service back.

Tenants, in the meantime, say they're paying the price. While working boilers are supplying some hot water to multiple buildings, residents say it's not enough to keep showers warm for more than a few minutes.

And without cooking gas, they've been forced to prepare their meals with a hot plate or microwave, or rely on takeout.

"It's affecting our quality of life," said one longtime tenant, who gave his name as Mr. Nelson, and said he's been saving his receipts for dining out, which he plans to deduct from his rent.

Others in the buildings said this isn't the first time Acropolis Gardens has been without heat and hot water. Another complained about broken intercom systems and trash piling up in the alleys between buildings.

"It's just a terribly managed building," said Arben Gjoni, 32. "This has a lot of potential to be a beautiful building."

Acropolis Gardens has also drawn the ire of some neighbors, who've complained on social media about seeing black smoke pouring out of its chimneys.

"More #BlackSmoke soot discharging from the #Acropolis in #Astoria .. Not good," one Twitter user posted, along with a video of the smoke, on May 17.

State Sen. Michael Gianaris said his office was alerted to the potential pollution, and notified the Department of Environmental Protection on June 2.

The agency issued two notices of violation at the property — one for an expired certificate of operation for a boiler, and another for "visible emissions." Both notices will be heard by the city's Environmental Control Board on Aug. 8, according to a DEP spokesman.

The owners were advised to have a technician or engineer inspect the boiler and make any adjustments to make sure it's working properly, the spokesman said.

Osman, president of the buildings' management company, said they are planning to install new, cleaner burners at the complex but that the upgrade was delayed because of the recent issues with the gas service.

"It would have been done about a month ago," he said.