From time to time the board or the managing agent will post important announcements here.

Sometimes notices that are distributed to shareholders or tenants  or notices that are posted in the lobby will also be posted here, though, for various policy reasons, not every notice will be posted here.

Building Operations IV

posted May 18, 2020, 9:02 AM by Marc Donner   [ updated May 18, 2020, 5:54 PM ]

Thank you volunteers!


A month ago we started soliciting resident volunteers to learn how to staff the building in the event, which we fervently hope will never happen, that so many of our staff contract COVID-19 that we can no longer operate the building normally.


You responded to our call magnificently and we now have well over forty volunteers enrolled in our program.


Jose, Mark, and the board are now working on training materials and schedules for the main services - front desk duty, package intake and distribution, and building hygiene.


FYI - board packages


Historically purchase and financing applications have been submitted to our management company’s back office for validation and distribution to the board for review.


Our practice has been to require that eight copies be spiral bound and submitted - one for the permanent file and seven to be distributed to the board members for review.


Early this year we initiated a new system whereby we securely distribute board packages electronically.


We initiated this program to help make our building more green, to improve security, and to streamline package handling.  It has turned out to be timely in the COVID-19 pandemic emergency because it also eliminates a potential infection pathway.


We will be publishing revised procedures documents that eliminate the requirement for eight copies to be delivered to the AKAM back office, rather submitting one unbound original to AKAM.


Several shareholders have inquired about our handling of application packages in this context and we are happy to report that we already have a good solution.


REMINDER Face covering


In addition to recommendations from the CDC that everyone wear a face covering when out of their home, the State of New York has made such coverings mandatory.


Remember, every building occupant and visitor is to wear a face covering while in any common area of the building.  This includes hallways, stairwells, elevators, lobby, and laundry room.


This is not only for your protection, but also for others who may come into contact with you.


Board of Directors

Eleanor Applewhaite

Abigail Burns

Larry Chaifetz

Marc Donner

Ernie Sander

Robert Stein

Stuart Sugarman


Building Operations II

posted Apr 14, 2020, 5:37 AM by Marc Donner   [ updated Apr 14, 2020, 5:41 AM ]

A lot has changed in the four weeks since our first building operations update.  The board and management of the building has learned a lot, and external public health and public safety agencies have been sharing what they have learned in the form of advice and guidance.


Masks and face coverings


The CDC now strongly recommends that people wear masks or other suitable face covering when going out of their residences.


205 has adopted a policy that all people without face covering will be stopped at the lobby entrance.


205’s COVID-19 Archive


The Board, Building Management, LTCA, and various public health agencies have written information and advice that we have chosen to share over BuildingLink and with paper postings in the mail rooms.


There are now so many of them that we have undertaken to accumulate an archive.  These documents are now available on the 205 West End website (205westend.com) here: 205westend.com/home/covid-19-communications.


A couple of the items in the archive are not published for policy or privacy reasons.


Laundry Room online monitoring


When we recently signed our new laundry room contract we asked for and received web-based access to the status of the machines.  You can go here: [REDACTED]. To identify our laundry room, you enter in the password field the string [REDACTED] (capitalization matters).  You can view individual machines in both the east and west rooms.


Using this you can see whether there are machines available.  And if you note which machines you are using, you can check whether your washing or drying is done.  This will help maintain proper social distancing in the laundry rooms. The alert service is not functional, unfortunately.


Ideas for amusement while at home


If you have links to entertaining and inexpensive or free entertainments that you are enjoying during this time, please share them with your neighbors on BuildingLink.


To get you started, here are two that you might find useful:

Electricity Metering During The Emergency

posted Mar 26, 2020, 6:58 AM by Marc Donner

As some of you may recall, when Lincoln Towers was built in 1961 there was a combination of low electricity costs and an oversupply of rental apartments.  As a result, the owner decided not to charge for electricty.


On conversion in 1986 the new Cooperatives continued this policy.


One consequence of this practice was widespread waste of electricity within the complex.


Submetering


In 2003 this Cooperative, 205 West End, voted overwhelmingly to install electricity meters in the spaces originally constructed for them and start billing shareholders for their actual usage along with the monthly maintenance.  One of the consequences of making consumption visible was a dramatic drop in usage. After submetering went into effect in 2003 electricity usage in the residence dropped 25%. This drop in usage has persisted.


The meters are in hallway cabinets on every third floor.  These meters are read each month by a company, Bay City, that has contracted with us to do this meter reading.


Meter Reading in the COVID-19 Emergency


As you know, the Cooperative has established stringent restrictions on traffic to the building during the emergency.  Delivery people must leave items at the front desk, and residents must come down to pick them up.


The Cooperative has informed Bay City that we will not let their meter readers into the building during the emergency.  As a result, Bay City will be estimating electricity consumption for each unit during the emergency, and charges will be posted accordingly.  These estimates will be based on the historical usage by each unit.


Once the emergency is over and meters can be read directly again, AKAM will reconcile the differences between the estimated and actual usage, crediting or debiting the monthly bill as appropriate.


Thank you for your understanding of actions we are taking to ensure your health and safety during this emergency.

Social Distancing

posted Mar 20, 2020, 6:13 AM by Marc Donner

The Board and Management of the Cooperative have agreed on a set of recommendations for residents and guidelines for staff to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 during this emergency.


Front Desk


Please stay six feet from the front desk staff at all times.  This means that a number of customary front desk services will be suspended for the foreseeable future:


      Helping residents and visitors into and out of taxis

      Only using the electric lobby doors

      Helping with packages and luggage


In addition, the front desk will no longer stock dog treats and staff will be asked not to welcome residents and their pets behind the desk.


We will be marking the floor at the sides of the front desk with a line that we ask residents not to cross.


Maintenance Visits to Apartments


To protect both staff and residents, maintenance visits will be limited to urgent matters only.  A leak or a safety condition counts as urgent, but changing a light bulb does not.


Hygiene in Elevators

 

We have been instructed that the elevator control panels present a substantial risk for transmitting the virus.  We are examining things that we can do to allow residents and staff to minimize this risk. In the interim, please use your keys, elbow, etc., to press your floor.


It is also okay to wait for an empty elevator to implement social distancing. This may increase your travel time but is safer.


Visitors


The Cooperative does encourage you to minimize the number of visitors into your apartment during the COVID-19 emergency.

Quarantine Guidance (If You Should Have Symptoms ...)

posted Mar 20, 2020, 5:17 AM by Marc Donner   [ updated Mar 20, 2020, 5:18 AM ]

If You Should Have Symptoms ...

(Originally posted 2020-03-18)

Here is the latest update from the Board and Management of the Cooperative concerning quarantine in case of a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection.  This guidance is adapted from CDC and Department of Health guidance.


Please follow this guidance closely for both your own benefit as well as for our entire community.  The guidelines are designed to minimize the risk of spreading the virus.


If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms or not feeling well, please contact your health care provider or call 311.


If it is necessary to travel out of the building for testing, please follow proper hygiene and common sense by covering your mouth with a mask or piece of clothing, wearing gloves, traveling in the elevator alone and practice social distancing.


Contact the front desk if you need the elevator dedicated to you and staff will arrange to take one out of general service for your trip and clean it afterwards.


Please immediately inform the building’s Resident Manager (residentmanager@205westend.com) and Management Executive (managingagent@205westend.com) if anyone in your household tests positive or has been exposed to the virus and must be quarantined per the CDC and DOH guidelines.


If you chose to voluntarily self-quarantine, please also notify by email same two people.  CDC guidance recommends such self-quarantine last 14 days.


In the case of a positive COVID-19 test result, the Cooperative and its staff will follow CDC and DOH instructions.


There are particular steps that must be taken by building staff if an apartment has occupants who are under quarantine.  These include placing deliveries at your door and  conducting a thorough cleaning of common areas that have been visited by the infected resident.


Thank you for paying close attention to these guidelines.  They are imposed for the safety of all residents and staff of the Cooperative.


Please send any questions or concerns by email to the Resident Manager, Management Executive, and directors.


We wish everyone comfort during these challenging times.

Building Operations

posted Mar 20, 2020, 5:15 AM by Marc Donner

(published 2020-03-16)


The board and management spoke today to discuss building operations considering the rapidly spreading COVID-19.  Our update dated March 9 remains in effect and, given the progress of events, we are instituting further changes for the foreseeable future.


Gym and Community Room

Effective immediately and for the foreseeable future, both the Community Room and the Gym are closed.


We are making this move for two reasons: firstly, to reduce risk to residents and to staff by establishment of social distance, and secondly to reduce the workload on and potential for contamination to the staff.


With the closing of the Gym and the Community Room we ask that residents not congregate in any other common areas of the building, including the lobby and the laundry rooms.


Major deliveries and move-ins and move-outs

We have discussed these activities at length and will be establishing appropriate hygiene protocols in line with CDC recommendations.  We are not suspending either major deliveries or move-ins and move-outs currently.


Construction and service calls

Renovations that are under way may proceed.  We are suspending for the near term the initiation of new renovation projects.


Please postpone non-urgent service calls until things settle down a bit.


Open Houses

Until further notice we are suspending real estate open houses in the building.


Laundry Rooms

The laundry rooms are a crucial shared facility.  While building staff clean them aggressively and frequently, you can help by being mindful of virus transmission when you use the room.  And, given the current circumstances, please be mindful of your use of laundry equipment.  Perhaps when you start a load in a machine or a dryer you can set a timer on your phone as a reminder to come back to retrieve it in a timely fashion and release the machine to the next user.


Volunteer corps

We will shortly be instituting a corps of volunteers who will help residents with a variety of needs with things like shopping at Jubilee or CVS.  You may volunteer by sending an email to managingagent@205westend.com.


Visitors

So long as you are not quarantined, you may continue to have visitors to your apartment.  Of course, you and your guests should follow CDC hygiene guidelines.


Thank you for your understanding as we make these policies for the safety and health of our residents, staff, and visitors.

COVID-19 Readiness

posted Mar 10, 2020, 10:50 AM by Marc Donner   [ updated Mar 10, 2020, 10:52 AM ]

As we all know, there is a worldwide outbreak of a new viral disease, called COVID-19 by public health experts.


While the primary responsibility for action rests with the New York City Department of Health, the New York State Department of Health, and the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are things that the Cooperative is doing and things that you can and should be doing.


What the Cooperative is doing


1.     Beginning several weeks ago our staff secured extra supplies of disinfecting wipes and cleaning solutions, hand sanitizer and latex gloves.

2.     Staff has instituted a more frequent and rigorous cleaning process of common areas:

a.     Elevators - wiping down three times per day with disinfecting wipes the entire control panel, handrails, and marble paneling.  The call buttons on each floor are also being wiped down with disinfecting wipes.

b.    Gym, Laundry, Mail and Community Rooms – being cleaned twice per day with disinfectants. As appropriate, it is recommended you also wipe down equipment and toys prior to using them.

c.     Lobby – cleaning desk and table tops with disinfectants on frequent basis during each shift.

d.    Lobby & Basement Entry and Exit Doors – wiping down both sides of each door and knobs three times per day.

3.     Hand sanitizer dispensers have been placed at the front desk, in the Gym, the Community Room and each Laundry Room.

4.     Staff have begun to wear gloves and have been instructed to stay home if they do not feel well.  We have secured several temporary staff to fill in if we need to cover for ill staff.


Effective Immediately

      NO OUTSIDE GUESTS WILL BE PERMITTED IN THE COMMUNITY ROOM.

      UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE NO LARGE PARTIES WILL BE ACCOMMODATED.


What you can and should be doing


Some common-sense things that are recommended by health agencies:


      If you are exhibiting signs of the flu (coughing, shortness of breath, body aches, fever, sore throat) or have recently travelled to an infected region and are not feeling well, please stay at home and call your health care provider or 311.  Do NOT go into the elevator unless travelling to the doctor, have staff come to your apartment or go to the AKAM office.

      Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing, not your hands.

      Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds or, if not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

      Do not touch your face, especially your nose, eyes and mouth.

      Stay away from people who are sick.

      Do not shake hands.

      Clean your cell phone regularly.


Follow the guidance that can be found on public health websites:


      CDC: www.cdc.gov

      NY State Department of Health: www.health.ny.gov

      NYC Department of Health: www.nyc.gov/health


Stop The Spread (poster)


Board of Directors

Eleanor Applewhaite

Abigail Burns

Larry Chaifetz

Marc Donner

Ernie Sander

Robert Stein

Stuart Sugarman

 

 

 

2020 Maintenance Letter (December 2019)

posted Dec 14, 2019, 9:08 AM by 205 West End Avenue Owners Corporation

Dear Fellow Shareholders:

The Board, supported by the building’s accountant and management staff, has reviewed the financial projections for the 2019 year-end and has approved an operating budget for 2020.

2019 Coop Deficit Summary:

205 West End Owners Corporation (Coop) will finish 2019 with an anticipated operating deficit of $112,200.  While this operating deficit was not as much as the forecasted deficit of $295,900 in 2018, the Coop still unfortunately had higher actual expenditures than our budget projections primarily in utilities/energy costs (colder than expected winter and variability of consumption use and costs) and an increase in professional fees (tax certiorari fees for successful reduction in prior year real estate tax expense).

2020 Coop Budget Impact:

Due to the 2019 operating budget deficit of $112,200 for the Coop (noted above) and projected increases in 2020 expenses for real estate taxes, utilities/energy and insurance, shareholders can expect a 5.35% maintenance increase (for a total of $4.4802 per share per month) in 2020.

Detail of 2019 Actual with 2020 Budget Projections:

Real Estate Taxes - budgeted at cost of $6,122,400 for 2019 is projected to end 2019 at $6,117,800.  Although it came in under budget this year, in 2020 we expect to pay real estate taxes of $6,613,900, an increase of $491,500 or approximately 4.5% over 2019 budgeted maintenance of $11,025,600.

This continues to be the major driver of our annual maintenance increase and has significantly impacted our budgets for the last few years (real estate taxes have increased $1,237,541 or 23.0% since 2017). The Board continues to aggressively work with our accountants and tax attorneys to ensure the building’s assessed value is correct. While we were unsuccessful in appealing the 2019/2020 assessed value of the property, our tax certiorari will file another appeal with the City Tax Commission in the summer of 2020 to have our assessed value retroactively adjusted. They are cautiously optimistic that our appeal will be approved but there is no guarantee. The Board will explore other options if our appeal is not granted.

Utilities/Energy (steam heat, electricity, co-gen gas and water/sewer) - budgeted at a combined cost of $1,689,100 for 2019. While final bills are still to be presented, the projected energy expenditures in these categories are forecast in 2019 to be approximately $1,723,300. In 2020 we expect to pay combined costs of $1,744,800, an increase of $55,700 or approximately 0.5% over 2019 budgeted maintenance of $11,025,600.

The Board and AKAM’s Energy Department continue to review and monitor our energy costs very closely in order to project future costs as accurately as possible based upon negotiated rates and estimated consumption.  Based on the recent installation of LED fixtures in all common areas of the building and garage, the Board expects to save on our electricity expense in 2020.

Insurance – budgeted at a cost of $270,500 for 2019 is projected to end 2019 at $273,800. In 2020 we expect to pay $302,700, an increase of $32,200 or approximately 0.3% over 2019 budgeted maintenance of $11,025,600. The building’s insurance carrier has indicated our premium is increasing due to more restrictive terms set by the insurance companies. The Board will continue to work with our broker to ensure we have the proper coverage relative to our expense.

Staff Payroll/Benefits (wages, union benefits, payroll taxes, workers compensation, and disability insurance) – budgeted at a combined cost of $1,681,000 for 2019 is projected to end 2019 at $1,575,100. In 2020 we expect to pay combined costs of $1,663,100, a decrease of $17,900 or approximately (0.2)% over 2019 budgeted maintenance of $11,025,600.

As always, many of our expenses are not under the board and management’s direct control.  Labor costs are set by union contracts; insurance rates are dictated by carriers; energy prices by the market; and taxes, water, and sewer charges by the City. The Board consistently tries to be both prudent in our expenditures and to make full use of opportunities to contribute to our building’s overall financial health. This includes reviewing and reducing costs whenever and wherever possible.

Final numbers for 2019 are still to be confirmed. They will be audited by our accountant and reviewed with you at our annual Shareholders’ Meeting in the Spring. As in previous years, we will be recouping some of the increased operating costs by retaining the NYC real estate tax rebate due most shareholders in the first quarter of 2020. You will see a credit/debit journal entry on a future statement. From an accounting standpoint this is treated as an operating assessment.

While the maintenance increase in 2020 is relatively high, 205 West End Avenue is one of the most conservatively managed buildings in the Lincoln Towers complex. This is measured by maintenance increase percentages over the years, maintenance per share, overall balance sheet strength, capital improvement measures and reserve balance.

We appreciate your ongoing confidence and support in the Board and management’s handling of the building.  The entire Board wishes you and your families a joyous holiday season and a happy and healthy 2020.

Sincerely,

Stuart Sugarman - President
Robert Stein - Treasurer
Eleanor Applewhaite
Abigail Burns
Larry Chaifetz
Marc Donner
Ernie Sander

Blackout - Postmortem Report and Next Steps

posted Jul 26, 2019, 2:34 PM by Marc Donner

West Side Blackout


In our previous update, dated July 18, we reported on several system failures experienced by 205 West End Avenue in consequence of the July 13 blackout.


In this report we will summarize what we have learned in investigating these failures and what plans management has agreed with the board to address the failures.


The Cogen System


While we have been testing the cogen system quarterly, it failed on July 13th.


The root of the problem was a failed cooling pump and a failed battery.  Because of the blackout the network connection used by the maintenance company was down, making it impossible for them to diagnose the problems.  And the blackout conditions made travel time for their technician much longer than anticipated, so he arrived at 205 after power was restored by the utility.


We will be taking two primary actions to remedy this weakness:

  1. We will test the blackout capability of the cogen system monthly instead of quarterly until such time as we are confident that the system is as reliable as we want it to be.  In fact, we conducted a test, which was successful, on July 19th.
  2. We will train most or all of the staff in how to transition the cogen system to blackout emergency generator status.  Five members of our staff had been trained.


The Emergency Lighting System


We learned several important things:

      The emergency lighting system is only rated to provide 90 minutes of lighting.

      Many of our lights failed in significantly less time than the rating.

      Most other buildings affected by the blackout experienced similar failures of these emergency lighting systems.


The board and management have agreed to pursue the following plan of action:

      We are evaluating passive luminescent tape that we can apply in the stairways.  These absorb ambient light and reemit it for about 90 minutes.

      We will test samples of our backup lighting systems to see how reliable their batteries are.

      We will explore the marketplace in cooperation with AKAM to see if there are more reliable products available to replace our current emergency lighting system.


The Elevators


The elevator system is designed to lower the car to the nearest floor and open the doors.


The elevator controller opens the doors of occupied cars once they are safely at a floor.  The controller relies on weight sensors built into the cars to tell which cars are occupied.


The motors that move the elevators, along with their power supplies and their computerized controllers are all located in a structure on the roof of the building called a head house.  Because the system produces a lot of heat, each head house is equipped with an air conditioner to keep the equipment at an appropriate operating temperature.


One of the A/C units had failed, so the temperature in that head house was too high, resulting in the emergency control system failing.  As it happened, the one elevator that was occupied at the time of the blackout happened to be under that head house.  The elevator did lower itself to within a few inches of the floor below, but failed to open its door.


Building staff have taken these actions in response:

  1. Replaced the failed A/C unit in the head house.
  2. Added the two head houses to the regular inspection schedule.
  3. And we will develop and implement a test for safe recovery behavior and add it to our monthly test program.


Front Desk Telephones


The power outage rendered our FIOS installation inoperable.  The telephone system complexity is too great for us to be able to adopt a simple solution, so we will work to enhance the reliability of our front desk phones.


We intend to work with our telephone service provider to establish the ability for our main number (1-212-496-5218) to ring through to several instruments at the desk, including one or more cell phones, regardless of the availability of power at the front desk.


Trust But Verify


Our system is well designed and should be capable of weathering a blackout like the one we experienced on July 13th with far fewer failures.


Obviously, good design alone is not enough.  While we had implemented a testing regime that checked what we thought were the critical systems on a quarterly basis, this schedule was clearly inadequate.


In addition, it is clear that our testing regime must include more components and more potential failure modes than we had previously though necessary.  Lesson learned.


We will be implementing a monthly blackout test schedule going forward.  The board will review these monthly results with management at each board meeting.


As time passes we will develop a way to report on our test results to the community.

Blackout - System Failures and Action Plan

posted Jul 18, 2019, 7:08 AM by Marc Donner

West Side Blackout

As you all know by now, there was a blackout on the evening of July 13.  The blackout began at 6:47 p.m., according to news reports of a Con Ed press release, and ended sometime about 10 p.m.


Geographically, the blackout extended from 72nd Street down to somewhere in the 40s and from Fifth Avenue west to the Hudson River.  The New York Times quotes Con Ed as attributing the failure to a problem at a substation on West 49th Street.


The Cogen System

Our electricity cogeneration system is designed to provide emergency power to the building in cases when the power grid goes down.  It is configured to ensure that one elevator on each side of the building is operational during a blackout, as well as lights in the main lobby, the stairways, and in the elevator lobbies on each floor from two up.


Building staff conduct regular tests of this capability three times each year.


To our dismay, the cogen system was out of service during the blackout.  We are investigating the reasons for this outage with our maintenance vendor.


The Emergency Lighting System

Both sets of stairs in the building are equipped with emergency lighting systems powered by batteries that are kept charged while grid power is available.


These batteries are rated to keep the lights on for two hours during a power outage.


We have heard reports that these lights were out from shortly after the power outage began.


These lights are supposed to be tested by LTCA Security staff on their regular vertical inspections of our stairways.


We intend to find out whether these batteries are discharging faster than their two-hour rating, resulting in a system that passes the standard test but fails under real conditions, or if there is some other failure at play.


The Elevators

When we renovated the elevators several years ago we upgraded the traction motors that raise and lower the cars.


In the process we implemented a safety system, required in new elevator installations, designed to lower each car to a nearby floor and open the doors in the event of a power outage or other failure.


In Saturday’s outage the elevators did correctly lower themselves to the nearest lower floor, but they did not open their doors as expected, thus trapping people in various cars and requiring intervention by building staff.


We are working with our elevator maintenance company to understand why the doors failed to open automatically.


Front Desk Telephones

Residents attempting to call the front desk during the blackout were unable to get through.


We do not know precisely what failure happened to cause this.  We have had reports that the blackout affected cellphone service, so providing the front desk with a cellphone might not have helped things.


We have also had reports that, unlike in past eras, the blackout interrupted land line service as well.


In some cases this may be because the FIOS and other services that have replaced the old copper landline service in our building have been installed without battery backup or because the batteries have failed.  Each resident is responsible for their own unit’s battery backup, so you should consult your phone service vendor.


The building needs a reliable way for residents to reach the front desk under all circumstances and we intend to investigate the reported failures and work with our telephone service providers to identify and implement a solution that enables us to ensure the ability to reach the front desk at all times.


Thank you to Jose and our staff!

The board would like to express particular gratitude on behalf of all of our residents to Jose and his building staff for their excellent response to this blackout.  They mobilized rapidly, they checked in with many elderly residents to ensure their comfort and safety, they walked residents up the stairs with flashlights, and they were just generally wonderful!

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