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Pelham Bay building’s residents bemoan lack of gas service

Bronx Times
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Frustration is mounting for residents of a Pelham Bay apartment building who have been without gas for over a month and have not received a timetable for its return.

Gas service has been shut off at 3555 Bruckner Boulevard since Friday, October 7, when a leak was discovered. While repairs are ongoing, residents have not been told when service will be resumed. Many are not expecting a full return to normalcy until after New Year’s at the earliest.

Residents still have heat and hot water, but not being able to use ovens and stoves has been the biggest challenge.

“You can’t really cook,” said Sonia Melendez, who has lived in the building for over 25 years. “The building managers gave each tenant an electric burner, but we don’t know who’s going to pay the electric bill.”

Neither the building’s management company nor the plumber hired to repair the leak returned calls. But Melendez said that most tenants feel both have been doing their best to remedy the situation.

“The plumbers have been excellent, they’re doing everything they can,” Melendez said. “Still, we might have a few (apartments) done soon but we’re not going to have the full function of the all the units until after New Year’s.”

Some residents have also had to deal with some of their apartment walls being ripped out to allow for repairs. They have had to take time away from their jobs to be home during the repairs.

“The tenants are very upset about the gas turnoff and all the repairs,” Melendez said.

Councilman Jimmy Vacca has held several meetings with building residents to address the issue. He agreed that the building’s owner does not deserve to be a scapegoat, but rather he is trying to promote cohesion among tenants.

“I’m not blaming the landlord,” Vacca said.

“They don’t have a tenants association, and we’re starting to get a semblance of one, and we’re trying to keep an active tenants association, because during times like this you need one.”

One important part of expediting the process, Vacca said, would be to make sure workers can get to all parts of the building to perform the necessary repairs.

“A key in this process will be access,” he said. “Most people in this building work, so it’s important that they know when the plumber is coming to make the gas connection, because they have to be home when the plumber comes. And delays in access when mill mean further delays in service.”

Bill Weisbrod can be reached via e-mail at bweisbrod@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3394.

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