Legionnaire’s Disease, corruption, distrust engulf Co-op City (Part 2)

 

Co-op City is home to more than 50,000 residents.

Co-op City is home to more than 50,000 residents.

As the new election cycle gets underway to choose new directors for the board at Riverbay Corporation, the usual strategy is being employed: Board members have been using the Co-op City Times to cast aspersions on each other’s character, while a 4.5 percent hike in carrying charges are slated to take effect by fall.

With his usual autocratic and arrogant style, Board President Cleve Taylor has denigrated his opponents on the board, hurled insults at them in the Co-op City Times while dismissing every option offered to reduce or avoid the pending carrying charge increase. Also, despite cooperators making it clear in the past that they were uninterested in participating in a bulk rate deal with Cablevision which would include the cost for cable on the monthly carrying charge bill, Taylor has been acting like a de factor agent for Cablevision by trying to shove the arrangement on residents.

Legionnaires

Ronald Hines, Sr, comforts his son, Ronald Hines, Jr, in the hospital when he was afflicted with Legionnaire’s Disease that he contracted during an outbreak in Co-op City resulting from poorly cleaned cooling tower. Hines, Jr has now partially recovered and is suing Co-op City for his injuries. Based on past pattern by Riverbay Board of Directors President Cleve Taylor, Co-op City’s shareholders will be on the hook for the settlement, if Hines wins his case.

Meanwhile, Ronald Hines, Jr, who was gravely sickened with Legionnaire’s Disease after an outbreak in the community that Riverbay’s administrators tried to keep secret until the New York City Department of Health intervened, has secured legal counsel and filed a lawsuit for restitution which, undoubtedly, Taylor will expect cooperators to pay with another carrying charge increase next year.

They cycle is tiresome, dishonest and exhausting for long-suffering shareholders who moved into the community to enjoy a middle class lifestyle at a reasonable price. Sadly, that reality is now a myth that Taylor seems hell-bent on destroying now that he has achieved a major feat in removing the exceedingly corrupt Marion Scott Real Estate Inc.–OnPointPress.net.-

Increased carrying charges/garage fees loom in Co-op City for new fiscal year

Co-op City is home to more than 50,000 residents.

Co-op City is home to more than 50,000 residents, who invested a significant amount of money in exchange for an affordable, safe, and comfortable housing environment.

By Carmen Glover

While taking a victory lap for ridding Co-op City of the destructive and corrupt Marion Scott Real Estate Inc. (MSI), the Riverbay Board of Directors, which manages Co-op City, announced in different financial presentations recently that carrying charges and parking garage fees will be increased by 4.5 percent during the upcoming fiscal year.

Aerial shot of Co-op City

Aerial view of Co-op City.

Sandwiched between providing a breakdown of the board’s reasons for settling an employee lawsuit brought against Riverbay Corporation and Marion Scott Real Estate Inc. for unlawful employment practices, board president Cleve Taylor suggested that imposing the increases was the best solution to settle the $8 million agreement and satisfy the cost of cleaning Co-op City’s cooling tower where legionella bacteria, which sickened several residents, was discovered by New York Department of Health.

For many shareholders, the increases add more burden to financially stretched households. However, the 4.5 percent increase will take effect in the fall of 2015, regardless of the disastrous impact shareholders anticipate.  For information about how to voice your concerns about the looming increases, contact Riverbay’s offices at 718-320-3300–OnPointPress.net.

Co-op City erupts in chaos amid feud between Marion Scott, board, HCR

Cleve taylor

Cleve Taylor, president of Riverbay’s Board of Directors, ousted Marion Scott Inc. and was immediately warned by HCR that his actions were illegal.

By Carmen Glover

Co-op City’s management is in a state of limbo after dueling actions by its board of directors and the NYS Homes & Community Renewal (HCR).

In a move that has taken longer than shareholders expected, the newly elected board of directors of Riverbay Corporation.Cleve Taylor suspended its real estate agency, Marion Scott, Inc. and had law enforcement officials escort some of its employees off the premises, amid pending lawsuits and a swirl of  new accusations of financial improprieties and mismanagement. The office of New York State Inspector General previously cited the corporation for financial improprieties, resulting in prosecution, trial and jail term for former board president Iris Baez.

During an emotionally charged emergency board meeting held in Bartow Center on Wednesday, November 19, Cleve Taylor, board president, led a vote of 12-2 to oust the management company that has been plagued by accusations of theft of services, financial improprieties, cronyism and disregard for state regulations.  In the days leading up to the action by the Board, Taylor sent a letter to HCR Assistant Commissioner Richmond McCurnin, requesting an investigation into Marion Scott Inc. In his letter Taylor wrote that:

“Marion Scott Inc. did not have a fidelity bond in place as required by HCR regulations. In addition, MSI routinely negotiated and contracted for more than $8 million /year in contracts without approval of the Riverbay Board and HCR.”

coop city

Co-op City is the largest residential housing development in New York state, boasting 35 buildings and housing thousands of residents.

Finance Director Peter Mereola and former General Manager Noel Ellison were named co-general managers and have been charged to manage the cooperation on an interim basis while proposals for the management contract are evaluated by the board. However, Taylor’s action was swiftly met with biting rebuke by McCurnin, who wrote to Taylor stating:

“My immediate concern is your unilateral decision to indefinitely ‘suspend’ all of the management agent’s employees at Riverbay, pending a review by the Board and HCR. This action is in violation of HCR regulations and Riverbay’s obligations under their WellsFargo/HUD loan documents.”

Marion Scott Inc. is currently facing a class action lawsuit resulting from financial improprieties, including contracted workers performing duties for which they were not paid since their checks bounced when presented at various banks. Taylor’s decision to act backfired spectacularly and he now faces skepticism from members of the community and the board, whose pleas to remove MSI shortly after the new board took office in June, fell on deaf ears. Week after week, the community’s local paper, The Co-Op City Times has published various reports that point to collusion between HCR and MSI, including HCR awarding of the contract to MSI in 1999 without a formal bidding process.

First vice president of the board, Daryl Johnson, has been vocal on the issue for months, stating that “according to the HCR regulations, we can self-manage and get rid of Marion Scott in 30 days.” Johnson has made reference to HCR’s own regulations to that effect and published the specific regulations in his weekly column. However, Taylor chose a different path. In the meantime, the board named an ad hoc committee to review proposals from management companies and examine backgrounds of applicants for general manager.

Several management companies have toured Co-op City and submitted bids for the contract, including Marion Scott Inc. MSI’s bid  has the community in an uproar that due to its inside knowledge of Riverbay’s operations, the very company that has caused the development public scrutiny and lawsuits, could win the bid. The idea of MSI continuing to  run the development, despite electing a new board filled with members who won office by promising to get rid of the problem-plagued management company, is causing anxiety among the residents. During the recent emergency board meeting, residents expressed their anger and disappointment in the board’s delayed action. Residents stated that they wanted “investigations and arrests,” to deal with the “theft” that has run the development into the ground. Read more as we continue to follow this story.- OnPointPress.net.

 

Co-op City eyes changes but raucous residents are unimpressed

riverbay1

Co-op City, located in the Northeast Bronx along the I-95 corridor on the border of Westchester County, is home to more than 50,000 residents who invest handsomely for a quality lifestyle.

By Carmen Glover

New York City’s largest residential cooperative, Co-op City, operated by Riverbay Corporation, is nestled in the Bronx on the New England Thruway, along the I-95 corridor and bordering Westchester County. It’s 35 sprawling buildings is home to more than 50,000 residents, many of whom showed up at 7:00 p.m. for a forum in Drieser Loop on Monday night to listen to administrators and invited presenters share details about pending changes in the operations of the complex.

Coop city

Many Co-op City residents rely on the MTA’s bus service for transportation but recent changes in the bus routes have disrupted the residents’ lives, causing anger and frustration.

But the forum devolved into an ugly, raucous, shouting fest and chaos when some of the residents, armed with their own agendas, refused to allow the presenters to complete their statements, choosing to hijack the forum and offer long-winded thoughts instead. Annoyed cooperators walked out at various points throughout the evening, fed up with the wanton display of clashing egos and unruly residents who seemed determined to disrupt the event.

Co-op City General Manager Vernon Cooper pleased with residents to listen to presenters but he was ignored as angry residents talked over him and the presenters.

Co-op City General Manager Vernon Cooper pleaded with residents to listen to presenters but he was ignored as angry residents talked over him and the presenters.

“No!,” shouted Margaret, a female resident who seemed to disagree with every statement made by both residents and presenters. Annoyed residents chided her to “be quiet,” to no avail. “Recommendations were made to see if service cuts could be restored,” said Riverbay’s general manager Vernon Cooper, introducing a team of representatives from the,Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), New York City’s transit body, regarding bus service in the area.

Jacqueline Carter, assistant director of government and community relations at the MTA, explained that her team was “able to put together an amazing snapshot” of MTA ridership in Co-op City to determine if it is feasible for restore services that were changed in the past. But when her male counterpart said that a study of 1,000 riders were surveyed on specific days last September and October and a large percentage “were satisfied with the service,” angry residents drowned out his voice with a chorus of “no, no, no!”

MTA Official is ridiculed as he tried in vain to defend the bus changes in Co-op City.

MTA Official is ridiculed as he tried in vain to defend the bus changes in Co-op City.

“You have been meeting with politicians but none of them live here. You said you did  a survey but who did you speak to?” asked Bernard Cylich, a community activist who scolded both the MTA representatives and Riverbay’s management team. Eleanor Campbell, another resident said: “Your numbers stating that only 8% of residents use the bus is not valid,” to sustained applause. “Every bus should go into every loop,” said another resident. “For 30 years the 26 and 28 buses worked fine but you changed it and it’s costing us. You are cutting up the bus service to line your pockets at our expense,” said a female resident, recounting that she now pays $10 each way to and from work instead of $5 due to the changes. Her statements were greeted with deafening applause.

Residents argued that the lines to ask questions were too long. They also argued that they were denied the opportunity to give lengthy speeches or curse out the representatives. Cooper, Riverbay’s general manager, was unsuccessful in his efforts to persuade the residents to follow the rules established for the event. For those who had the opportunity to ask questions, they refused to surrender the microphone, launching into campaign-like soliloquys as frustrated residents seethed.

Co-op City's Administrator Herbert Freeman did not fare well when he tried to interact with residents after he spent the early portion of the event as an observer.

Co-op City’s Administrator Herbert Freedman did not fare well when he tried to interact with residents after he spent the early portion of the event as an observer.

Cooper then introduced Paul Shack and David Carlos by stating: “Many housing developments provide websites about the developments where they live and we felt it was a good idea to provide one for Co-op City.” Shack then said he and his partner “have the pleasure of creating a website for Co-op City,” before airing a two-minute clip about their proposed website which, among other features, would make it possible for residents for pay their carrying charges online. However, residents lost interest when the men insisted that concerns about security of personal information were unnecessary while failing to explain what built-n security features their website would have.

Carter, who left immediately after the MTA’s presentation, urged residents to contact her directly at Jacqueline.Carter@nyct.com, to express concerns. OnPointPress.net.