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Six Buildings in Astoria Co-Op Still Without Gas or Hot Water Since April

By Jeanmarie Evelly | June 22, 2015 5:56pm | Updated on June 23, 2015 7:22pm
 Tenants and elected officials rallied at Acropolis Gardens Monday, calling for service to be restored.
No Gas Service at Acropolis Gardens
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DITMARS — Elected officials and residents rallied outside the Acropolis Gardens co-ops Monday, where tenants have been living without cooking gas and hot water for nearly two months — despite management's initial promise that the service would be restored by June 19.

Con Edison shut gas off at eight buildings at the development on April 29 because of "unauthorized, improper hookups," according to a spokesman. As of yet, only two of those buildings have had service restored.

"Frankly, to see only two of the eight buildings turned on after eight weeks is unacceptable," City Councilman Costa Constantinides said outside the complex Monday, where he was joined by other elected officials, including Public Advocate Letitia James.

"Having hot water, having the ability to cook on your stove, is a basic right. It's not something we should be out here having a press conference about," he said. "I'm asking the management company to finish the work."

The co-ops are managed by Metropolitan Pacific Properties, whose president Steve Osman previously told DNAinfo that Con Edison made an error in shutting off the gas after coming to inspect the properties following a small fire.

A Con Edison spokesman, however, said the service was cut because of "unauthorized, improper hook ups that violate building codes."

"Building management has been made fully aware of what they need to do. Gas was shut off for the safety of the residents," the rep said. "We'll continue working with the city to make restorations as proper repairs are made.”

An attorney for the buildings' co-op board, which contracts Metropolitan Pacific Properties, said Con Edison told them they need to replace the meters at the buildings, but that the utility company were out of the replacement meters.

Con Edison, however, disputes this claim, saying they have not run out of meters.

The attorney, Michael Maio, said the repair process has also been drawn out because workers have to check every individual apartment for gas leaks — none have been found, he said — which requires that tenants be home.

"It's because of the meter issue, and the other issue which is just logistical — it's getting together all these people, all the residents, so that they're home at the same time to be able to give access to the plumbers to test their apartments," said Maio.

But residents who own property in the complex are fuming over what they call "management issues."

"They treat us like second-class citizens," said Ambra Barboni-Alexander, who noted she's been using a hot plate and taking cold showers during the outage. "We are fed up, we can't take it anymore."

She and other tenants said this isn't the first time the building has been without hot water or even heat. Another resident, Shallena Jabid, complained that her apartment buzzer has been broken for months. She's also been using a hot plate to warm up water to bath her toddler son, she said.

"Why are we not getting the service we are supposed to get?" Jabid said.

She says her monthly maintenance fees have continued to go up in the four years she's owned her apartment, despite the fact that conditions have gotten worse.

"I feel like I'm stuck," she said. "If I were renting this place, I would leave."