Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums
Article Archive
Meeting Highlights
Published: Summer 2004

Three seminars offered this year by CNYC have been so well received that the speakers have agreed to "reruns". Following are brief reviews of those sessions.

Mold and its potential ill effects have been a topic of growing concern in recent years.  CNYC gained great insights into the level of this concern when it scheduled a seminar on mold in January. The event was noted by the New York Times, and suddenly CNYC was inundated with registration requests. When the seminar outgrew both the modest venue first selected and the large auditorium to which it was moved, CNYC could only promise another session and take names. CNYC Chairman Stuart M. Saft, Esq. moderated this seminar, where Environmental Hygienist Ed Olmstead  of Olmstead Environmental Services and architect Stephen Varone of Rand Engineering provided descriptions and discussion of mold infestations and how to cope with them. These three gentlemen have repeated their presentation for part of the overflow crowd in May and have agreed to another presentation of the same workshop on Wednesday, October 6, 2004. 

Mold is found everywhere, asserted Mr. Saft  as he introduced a seminar designed to examine the forms of mold, its potential to harm property and people, and methods for remedying mold situations. Mr. Ohmstead's striking slide presentation familiarized participants with many of the forms that mold can take, and pointed out that mold can thrive wherever it finds moisture and food (anything carbon-based). While most forms of mold are not harmful, they are unsightly and annoying and should be dealt with quickly to prevent them from spreading. Simply removing the mold is not sufficient, as it can return if favorable conditions persist. Mr. Varone stressed the necessity of quickly curing all leaks and ensuring that the area is dried, so that mold does not develop. Typical areas for recurrent mold growth are bathrooms and kitchens, particularly those without windows. Ducts and ventilation conduits are also areas that are hospital to mold growth. These should be cleaned regularly and maintained in good condition. Building staff and management should be responsive to reports of mold and should help residents with quick cleanup. 

Currently available on the website of Rand Engineering at is an article on mold that first appeared in Habitat magazine. This article will be included in the booklet on mold which CNYC is preparing. This booklet will be sent to CNYC members in the fall and will available for purchase at that time. Details will be provided in the autumn issue of this Newsletter.

When the tools of psychology come to the aid of business, the results are often impressive.  Consultant R. Bonnie Haber couples a strong real estate background with training in business, teaching and psychology. As president of a company called Corporate Calm, she generally helps high-level executives recognize their strengths and modify behaviors that had hampered their successful functioning. At the request of CNYC, she turned her talents to the needs of co-op condo boards in a workshop entitled "How to Manage the Group Process and Stay on Task".

Without exception, the participants in this interactive session left energized and eager to try the new ideas Ms. Haber had provided for improving the functioning of their boards.

She began by providing an agenda for her talk and a reminder to board members that they need to have an agenda for each meeting to provide a framework for making progress.  She progressed to introductions around the room and then focused squarely on the issue of making boards more efficient and effective.

The group discussed the various challenges faced in their own buildings. Were any of these boards truly dysfunctional? Why was this the case? Did all board members have a chance to take on responsibilities?  Were they doing so?  What impediments might there be –-- real and perceived, stated and underlying?

Ms Haber had many astute insights to help improve the group dynamic.  A functional work group, she advised, is cognizant of its purpose, deals with the real tasks at hand, and finds a structure that furthers the accomplishment of the task. Each member of the group has the will to belong and is at one with the task of the group.  To bring your board to this level, Ms. Haber suggest that you must understand four key concepts: boundary, authority, role and task. Investigating and understanding each will lead your group to a higher level of effectiveness.

Bonnie Haber has agreed to present this workshop again for CNYC on Wednesday, August 4, 2004. To register, consult page 16 of this Newsletter. Ms. Haber can be contacted at the offices of Corporate Calm LLC by phone at 516-676-0303 and e-mail: You can also visit the Corporate Calm website at

A notebook brimming with useful materials and forms, three informative class sessions with plenty of opportunity for questions and comments by the participants, homework assignments designed to help everyone apply the lessons to their own building – this winning combination garnered high praise from past participants at Self-Management 101.

The program grew out of the dedication of its instructors, consultant Mitch Levine and property manager Rebecca Poole. They had for several years been part of the leadership team that presented a two-hour workshop on self management issues for small buildings at CNYC's annual Housing Conference. There, they listened to the many problems the boards of these small buildings were grappling with, often with little or no background as to what their responsibilities were and even less knowledge about the physical plant of their buildings.

Mr. Levine and Ms. Poole tried their best to provide guidance in the limited time available at the Conference. But, this wasn't enough, they decided. So the put together the materials and the course outline to Self-Management 101 and brought it to CNYC.

Since that time, Self-Management 101 has been presented twice, with a substantial majority of registrants attending all three classes in this six-hour program.

The curriculum includes a thorough review of the administrative and financial needs of a typical small building and a detailed examination of basic aspects of maintaining the physical plant. Homework assignments include a walk-thru of one's own building with a checklist inviting inspection of the roof, the boiler and many things in between. Questions and answers from the leaders and from other class participants enhance learning opportunities.

The next presentation of Self-Management 101 will be on three Thursdays in the autumn and winter, beginning October 14, 2004.


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