Seeking Answers and Updates on Westview Privatization

June 17, 2019

The Westview buildings, 595 and 625 Main Street, are in a transition period at present and have been for some years.  As the last Mitchell-Lama affordable housing residence on Roosevelt Island, we have relied on the Westview Task Force, Inc.(WTI) incorporated in 2003, for the purpose of negotiating the buyout with owners and elected by a small number of the 361 Westview tenant leaseholders.  This organization, elected by and of the tenancy and subject to by-laws approved unanimously by the tenants has been absent without leave for months if not years. I recently sent the following note to Tad Sudol, a co-chair of the WTI Board of Directors, as my emails to the official WTI address, admin@westviewtaskforceinc.org, have gone unanswered for many years and over many issues:

 

Hello, Tad,

    Forgive me for writing to you directly regarding Westview Task Force business, but I understand that you are a co-chair of the Board of Directors with Opher [Pael] and Johan [Marfey] and they have opted not to share their email addresses with residents.  As for the "admin" email address, I never receive a response to the messages I've left there.  Be that as it may...

    I guess my fundamental question is: Does the Westview Task Force still exist?  We, the tenants, have received nothing to indicate any activity in many months.  The bulletin board in the 625 lobby still lists board members, but they were elected in 2015 for two-year terms, which expired two years ago.  While the bulletin board lists a schedule of meeting dates, they expired at the end of 2018. The minutes posted on your website extend only through 2016 with the last one, dated April 12, 2016, labeled as "new." As for tenant updates and meetings, those end with 2012 postings.  Even the homepage was last updated on November 3, 2017. 

    Given the difficulty in obtaining information from WTI and the relative invisibility of board members, Westview residents continue to come to me for information regarding privatization. Many lease holders are unaware that we are no longer in the Mitchell-Lama affordability plan. I was a charter director of the corporation when it incorporated in 2003, but left the Board in 2006 and now I am as clueless to WTI business as everyone else is.  There was a rumor that the Black Book would appear in June. It's June.

    If you could share current information, either by a door-drop for tenants or through an email directly to me, I would be glad to send that update to the Westview Red Herring listing that has taken up some of the responsibility for communications that was once WTI's job.

    All the best,

    Matt Katz  

While I was able to discuss this with Tad this past weekend, I have not received any written response to my concerns and Tad was unable to answer my questions.  Currently, the rumor has it that the "Black Book" that will lay out the final details of the privatization plan has been postponed for three months.  However this is only a rumor and has no foundation in established fact.  After over a decade of anticipation, Westview residents are anxious and tired of the paucity of information from WTI, building management, RIOC, the owners or anyone else.  And in addition to the concern over our future here there are nuts and bolts issues that should be addressed by management (which is spectacularly silent on all communication with us) and advocated by the WTI, which once had a maintenance committee for that purpose:

 

Over a period of six months, starting about a year and a half ago, every apartment had new windows installed.  In my estimation, they have been excellent, keeping out wind, temperature extremes, and rain.  However, and from the day they were installed, they have never been cleaned.  Over the 20 years my wife and I have lived in Westview, the procedure was that tenants would hire a cleaner, staff or otherwise, to remove the sliding panels and use squeegees on mop handles to address the outside panes. 

 

We have learned from our super that this is no longer allowed and to be patient while the complicated issue of how to wash windows is determined.  Maintenance staff has allowed that these new windows are no more complicated than the old ones and may be cleaned using the same format.  Emails and phone calls to the on-site manager go unanswered.  Currently, my windows are opaque and I would like to enjoy the lovely view outside my window.

 

In addition, I have been a member for 20 years of the Westview Health Club, swimming laps in our pool generally three times a week.  About a month ago, the heating system failed and the water has been a constant, and uncomfortable 78 degree F, with the result that the already small membership is decreasing as swimmers ask for refunds and leave. 

 

Once upon a time, this pool was available to the entire Roosevelt Island population (at an increased fee over Westview and Island House residents) as well as summer camp groups and the Marlins swim team, which helped defray the cost of upkeep. Now, when I swim in the late afternoon, I often swim alone and the sign-in sheet is empty. While this is very pleasant (it's my ow personal pool!) this can't be good business practice.  

 

Dirty windows and a slovenly health club can't be considered enticements to offer the apartments warehoused by the owners for future sale. Conspiracy theories abound as residents try to imagine why management, along with the WTI, have become ciphers who refuse to communicate with us.

 

In desperation, I am sending this to y'all in hopes that some pressure could be imposed that would compel the owners, management and our own "representative" State corporation, the WTI, to do the right thing and, at the very least, communicate with tenants.  

    

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