Cooper Park Boils Over Boiler

The boilers under a Williamsburg public housing building that worked intermittently on weekends have rankled its tenants, most of whom work longer hours than the boiler.

Residents of Cooper Park Houses (40 Debevoise Avenue, Williamsburg) first began noticing a problem with their boilers in December 2009, when the heat in the building appeared to fail on the weekends and water from the tap was slow to heat up. It turned out that two of the three boilers in the building kept shutting down during the coldest months of the year.

“I have to run my water for half an hour before it turns hot,” said Karen Leader, a Community Board 1 member who lives in Cooper Park.

The 12-acre complex, which was completed in June 1953 and is run by the New York City Housing Authority, includes eleven seven-story buildings which house a total of about 1,753 residents and is bordered by Frost Street and Morgan, Kingsland, and Maspeth Avenues.

The buildings are old and often in need of maintenance and repairs, its residents have explained. In the past, superintendents who maintained the boilers and other building facilities lived in Cooper Park, but NYCHA has since consolidated operations to its Brooklyn district offices.

“Anytime boilers go down, mechanics have to be dispatched from district offices,” said Dianne Jackson, President of the Cooper Park Tenants Association. “They’re cutting costs, saving money, but a lot of times these things have follow-ups and problems with them. When they’re looking to save money, sometimes it is at the residents’ expense.”

Jackson, Leader and other Cooper Park residents contacted NYCHA officials and brought the issue to the attention of Community Board 1’s Public Housing Committee in February.

At the meeting, a NYCHA representative noted that maintenance complaints can take as little as two days for a response, while carpentry and plastering requests can take months because there are so many on the queue. Leader was told that the problem was no longer under the management of the building and that NYCHA’s borough offices were looking into the issue.

A week later, the problem was fixed. A NYCHA spokesperson confirmed that the inner workings of the boilerd “were reassessed” and that they are now working. The spokesperson did not explain why the boilers were failing, particularly on evenings and weekends, though Jackson stressed that not having staff on call to fix problems at night and the closure of the management office on weekends extended the delays.

For Leader and other residents, it is water under the bridge, and into their sinks.

“The problem has been resolved. I don’t exactly know when it was fixed,” said Leader. “Heat is now flowing through Cooper Park, and hot water. Thank God.”