Co-ops need relief from ‘unfunded mandate’

To The Editor:

We are very pleased to see that Community Board 8 has recognized the urgent need to bring to light the vast inequity imposed by the financial issues associated with the city’s mandated conversion of heating systems away from number 6 fuel by holding a public forum on February 27.

While nearly everyone supports the concept of using cleaner fuels, very few have come forward to closely examine the actual cost of conversion to gas or to dual fuel (as may be desired by individual boards of directors) that will be borne entirely and uniquely by co-op shareholders — without any tax relief, funding support or economic relief of any sort.  The cost of conversion by individual buildings will be enormous and enormously unjust for co-op shareholders.  We recently saw a price tag imposed by Con Edison of $580,000,00 for one building to run a gas line to its location to enable the conversion to gas heat.  We have heard of prices near $100,000.00 for the relining of a chimney which was required to accommodate the increased heat produced by burning natural gas.  And, of course there is no guarantee, nor even any way of predicting that cleaner fuels will be more economical in the future, as more and more local buildings shift away from heavy oil, the market may adversely shift, raising the price of clean fuels.  The Association of Riverdale Cooperatives and Condominiums has been bringing the issue and pertinent information to its member buildings for several years, even when the concept was in its formative stage, in the hope that neighborhood boards of directors would, en masse, embrace the concept of conversion before they were forced by imposed deadlines to do so.

ARC has been in regular conference with Con Edison in an attempt to have the utility recognize Riverdale as a single cluster, or even several component clusters of customers and thus allow for “group pricing” when new gas lines need to be provided.  For the past two years, ARC has brought the issue of the need for financial support to cooperators directly to each of our local representatives, at every level of government — to little avail.  Historically, whenever hugely expensive fiats are imposed by government, such as the city’s Local Law 43, there has been support offered to individuals, in the form of rebates, stipends, tax relief, etc. to relieve the excessive and inequitable burdens that such mandates demand.

ARC continues to recognize this issue as the most important to directly impact the neighborhood and each individual shareholder in its many co-operatives, and recently designated the fuel conversion issue as its primary focus and appointed Mr. David Gellman, one of its directors to spearhead the matter.  ARC, with Mr. Gellman on point, will be meeting again soon with senior officials at Con Edison to underscore the gravity and extent of the cost of bringing gas lines to Riverdale by sharing information that ARC has accumulated regarding the number of units, fuel consumption and energy requirements of most of the buildings in the neighborhood.  Any support that the Community Board and our local representatives can offer to ease the economic pain of conversion will be most welcome.  Our residents support the concept of cleaner burning fuels and need financial relief that is fair and just in the process.

Stephen J. Budihas, President

Association of Riverdale

Cooperatives & Condominiums


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