Residents of 3555 Bruckner celebrate return of gas service

(l-r) McConnell, Vacca, Melendez and Richie Torres of Vacca's office.

Now they’re cooking with gas.

Residents of 3555 Bruckner Boulevard in Pelham Bay are celebrating the full return of gas service to their building after nearly three months without it. All of the apartment building’s inhabitants had full service restored on Friday, December 23.

Gas was cut off after a leak was discovered in early October, which meant residents were unable to use their stoves. Repair crews needed access to each of the building’s 142 units to restore service, a difficult task given tenants’ schedules.

Most residents said the biggest inconvenience was the fact that they could not cook on their ovens and spent a lot eating out or using electrically-powered hot plates.

“It was wonderful to cook, finally,” said resident Sonia Melendez, who worked with her neighbors to coordinate schedules so that workers could have access to each apartment.

“I’m just getting used to cooking three meals a day,” she said four days after service had been restored.

Melendez retired years ago, but making sure repair crews could do the necessary work in each of the building’s apartments was a full-time job.

But one silver lining in the gas ordeal has been an increased solidarity between the residents of the 3555 Bruckner. They have held regular meetings and plan to discuss whether they will lobby the building’s management company for a rent reduction.

She also worked with Councilman Jimmy Vacca’s office to hold tenant gatherings and make sure senior citizens who could not eat out were being fed.

“If it wasn’t for Vacca’s office, we wouldn’t be in the position we’re in now with the gas,” Melendez said.

Vacca was amazed with the resilience and persistence the tenants showed in synchronizing each others schedules and seeing the repairs through to completion.

“It took a lot of work, a lot of coordination,” he said. “This was an unbelievable thing.”

Pat McConnell has lived in 3555 Bruckner for 22 years, but had never seen residents display the kind of teamwork they did this fall.

“It’s not easy organizing tenants, having them stay home or getting someone to stay for them,” she said.

But it was worth it.

“Just knowing you can walk over to your stove and turn it on is a great feeling,” she said. “Because there are things we take for granted, like if you just want to make a cup of tea or roast a chicken.”

Bill Weisbrod can be reached via e-mail at or by phone at (718) 742-3394. Follow him on Twitter @bweisbrod

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