Co-op complex still experiencing issues

Barnes Building shareholder Jason Pagan and Matthews Building shareholder Guido Caceres say that there is irresponsibility and negligence at the co-op complex.
Community News Group / Steven Goodstein

Shareholders at one of the oldest residential co-op complexes in the Bronx are still fed up with how their building continues to be run.

The co-op owners who live at the Matthews Building, located at 2925 Matthew’s Avenue, as well as the Barnes Building, 2922 Barnes Avenue, complained about their building’s management.

Problems they are encountering have resulted from or have not been handled by the ‘expired’ provisional board that has run the co-op buildings since 2014, they believe.

For months, shareholders have also complained about many of the co-ops’ issues, including backed up garbage chutes, water leak damages and faulty documentation and paperwork.

The garbage chutes, which remain inaccessible and locked in the Barnes Building, have forced the owners, many of whom are seniors, to carry their garbage to the basement or to the front of the building, generating major inconveniences.

“I don’t know how much longer I can keep doing this (referring to the garbage situation),” said Elba Lugo, a resident in the Barnes Building for 18 years.

Guido Caceres, a Matthews Building owner for the last 17 years, said that he previously experienced leaks in the bedroom and bathroom of his unit, before they were fixed two years ago by the building’s previous superintendent.

However, the cracks that resulted from the leak still haven’t been repaired.

He added that the previous superintendent also changed his front door frame, but as a result, he has been unable to lock his door.

“This is irresponsible and negligent – and I would know, because I was a superintendent for 15 years,” said Caceres.

Two residents, Michelle Lee, a one-time board member, and Michele Saudi, questioned the provisional board’s spending practices.

“There is a misuse of money in this building – nobody knows what happens to the money,” said Lee, especially the money spent on security cameras that face the wrong direction, she added.

In response, the acting provisional board members stated that the cameras are to everybody’s security benefit and that some shareholders have refused to pay maintenance.

They also claim that five co-opers (represented by Karen Takach in the lawsuit that was filed seven months ago against the acting provisional board, Stillman Management and Farband Housing Corporation) owe more than $152,000 in back maintenance charges.

“This building has been in peril way before we (myself, Catherine Rogan and Efrain Salinas) became provisional board members,” said acting provisional board president Duncan Campbell, who has reached out to Councilman James Vacca and Senator Ruben Diaz in the past for assistance .

“We have debts, we have violations, we have tenants refusing to pay maintenance – it’s a mess. However, if I didn’t take over this co-op complex, it would have lapsed into receivership.”

He also mentioned that the building has been constantly vandalized, acts including destruction of cameras and wires, that he believes have been committed by angry shareholders.

On Monday, January 18, a fire erupted on the third floor of the Barnes Building and resulted in two injuries, including resident Sheila Romales, who was burned on 50% of her body.

As of press time, she was still recovering at Jacobi Medical Center.

The fire, which was accidental, was caused by the careless disposal of cigarettes.

Both buildings have been self-owned and self-managed since mid-1920.

Reach Reporter Steven Goodstein at (718) 260-4599. E-mail him at sgoodstein@cnglocal.com.

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