Is East River starting to show its age?

old pipes

When sewer pipes enter their seventh decade of use, this is what they look like.

A view of the inside of building 4's laundry room.
A view of the inside of building 4’s laundry room.

The question is now, can preventative maintenance in the other three buildings save money in the long run? Or is sitting back and waiting for another sink hole to open up our only real option?

Because if the sewer pipes look like this under building 4, they probably don’t look much different under buildings 1, 2, and 3.

Who’s next?

The strategy at East River for years has been to keep maintenance as low as possible. That’s an admirable goal, keeping this corner of Manhattan livable and affordable for families old and new. The cost of major upgrades and repairs — like the boiler room and local law 11 facade work — has been added to our underlying mortgage through interest-only loans in order to protect current cooperators from higher monthly fees and assessments. (This is a not uncommon strategy.)

Recently it was revealed that the coop is seeking a $5 million line of credit for anticipated repairs and maintenance, so there’s no indication that the current board has any interest in changing course.

The coop also maintains no reserve fund for unanticipated repairs, and has not conducted any study of the costs of future repairs and maintenance. Which means it should not actually be a surprise when the 60-year-old laundry room turns into a money pit.

Earlier this week, management emailed an update to cooperators in building 4 with apologies for the inconvenience, closing with: “This job has been very difficult and very hard to estimate because we did not know what we would find when we started digging.”

You can say that again. And again and again.