Track Record for Failure Continues

Will Someone Have To Die Before Cuomo's Minions Stand Up For Residents?

Updated 48 weeks ago David Stone
February 10th, two months after it was first reported, a smoke detector in a residential building at Manhattan Park remains disabled.
February 10th, two months after it was first reported, a smoke detector in a residential building at Manhattan Park remains disabled.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

When it was reported, last week, that a high level RIOC executive was seen making nice with Manhattan Park's most notorious property manager, issues that have roiled the waters here for two years resurfaced. This time, it's not just a submetering abuse issue where RIOC fails to stand tall, but real and apparent life-threatening dangers that the State agency freely ignores. Worst of all, it isn't just RIOC but a long list of negligent elected and appointed officials who share the responsibility.

Late last year, December 10th, to be exact, we reported on hazards the widespread growth of transient housing brought to Roosevelt Island. We made sure, via social media, that not just RIOC but Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, State Senator José Serrano, City Council Member Ben Kallos and Governor Andrew Cuomo, among others, were alerted.

RIOC is tightly controlled by Cuomo and kissing cousins with an administration accused of corruption and pay to play politics.

Why this matters...

After hearing that a RIOC executive visited Manhattan Park - management, not tenants - we took a quick inventory of complaints that have been delivered to the State agency and the elected officials listed above.

No one, so far, has done anything to make right tenants' losses caused by Manhattan Park's documented failure to live up to its ground lease obligations concerning submetering. That dispute is likely headed to court after RIOC's refusal to stand up to real estate developers was matched by our elected officials - you know, the ones who talk so much about fighting for us in election season? - unwillingness or inability to do anything about RIOC.

But that's the less threatening issue, the one that's not endangering lives as the sun comes up, this morning.

When we reported in December, the most frightening issue was the smoke detector we photographed (shown above) in one of Manhattan Park's small, short stay residences, a sort of mini-hotel that sneaks transients in under the regulatory radar. The apartment number, 16H, was clearly shown in one of the accompanying photos.

That poses an enormous risk for tenants, a fact which should not require emphasis, but with RIOC and Manhattan Park, it apparently does.

First, as we showed, the transient apartment - one of many embedded in a complex shared with typical rentals - was internally reconstructed to provide maximum occupancy, beds separated only by flimsy partitions, some of which do not reach the ceiling.

No warning alarm will go off, if a fire breaks out, because the detector's been disabled with a plastic bag, and any fire beginning in the kitchen might spread quickly across parquet floors. Anyone tucked behind the partitions inside would be unable to evacuate without walking through fire to a single exit.

At either end of the hallways outside the apartment, families with young children live. No alarm would alert them to the danger before those hallways filled with enough smoke to set off other alarms, making access to emergency stairway exits difficult or impossible to reach.

Why neither Manhattan Park nor RIOC and the elected officials took any action to protect tenants from a publicly reported danger is anyone's guess.

We read about lives lost to fire in the news, and it's often discovered that carelessness allowed a preventable disaster to happen. But rarely is it shown that parties responsible for safety and enforcement openly ignored warnings.

Politicians cannot, in this case, claim ignorance.

On the evening after RIOC's visit to Manhattan Park was reported, I checked 16H again. The door was propped open, as it often is in an apparent effort to let visitors get in without having to stop at the Concierge Desk for required identification.

The smoke detector remains disabled. 

Let's repeat our earlier question: Must lives be lost before Cuomo's minions at RIOC stand up to protect residents? And where are all those elected officials who promised to "fight" for us? Why does Manhattan Park get yet another pass for a violation, this time one putting lives at risk?

Is anyone really on our side?

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