Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums
CNYC Newsletter
CO Detectors; Security; Self-Management

Published: Winter 2003

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas found in combustion fumes, such as those emanating from heating systems, vehicle exhausts, lanterns and gas and wood ranges. A build-up of carbon monoxide can occur in an enclosed or semi-enclosed space, often without warning. When the gas is inhaled and replaces oxygen in the bloodstream, it can cause many symptoms including headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, chest pain and convulsions. High levels of ingestion can cause loss of consciousness or death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that carbon monoxide poisoning is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths, which often occur because people are sleeping and are thus unaware of the initial symptoms.

To protect the public, the State of New York passed legislation last year amending the State’s Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code to require that carbon monoxide detectors be installed in all houses, cooperatives and condominiums as they are sold. Draft regulations for the implementation of this law went into effect on December 31, 2002. Final regulations are expected to be adopted in March.

Please note that this law does NOT currently apply in New York City. Section 383 of the New York State Executive Law specifically acknowledges that the city has its own building code and is therefore not subject to the Uniform State Law, provided that the city enacts its own laws which are equally stringent or more so. Accordingly, Speaker Gifford Miller has recently introduced in the City Council legislation to address carbon monoxide detectors. CNYC will monitor the progress of the city legislation and will advise members of its passage and the requirements it will impose.

Meanwhile, carbon monoxide detectors are a sensible addition to the protections in our homes. Detectors can be purchased at most hardware stores for about $30. Your building may want to investigate opportunities for bulk purchase and encourage installation in every apartment. At this point in time, however, New York City cooperatives and condominiums have no need to monitor sales to ensure that apartments have carbon monoxide detectors.

Security has always been a concern of the boards and residents of New York cooperatives and condominiums. We strive to ensure that our buildings will be safe, that no stranger can easily enter, that machinery functions properly, that equipment to deal with emergencies is available and that staff members understand its use. As required by law, we developed Fire Safety Plans and circulated them annually to all residents.

Subsequent to the tragic events of 9/11, we began to think about evacuation procedures and about storing food and water to prepare for an eventual need to "shelter in place". We’ve made lists of residents with special needs. We’ve armed ourselves and our children will flashlights. We’ve encouraged building residents to rehearse family evacuation plans and to select a contact person (far from home) with whom to check in if an emergency separates family members.
In recent weeks, we’ve even been instructed in ways to cope with the possibility of biological or chemical invasions.

It is difficult to process all of this (sometimes conflicting) advice and to decide how best to ensure the security of the buildings that are our homes. Fortunately, several sources of help are available:

  • The American Red Cross conducts classes each week in emergency safety at no cost. Everyone is welcome, but registration is advised. At the Red Cross headquarters at Amsterdam Avenue and 66th Street in Manhattan, the class is on Thursday evenings. Contact your local Red Cross for specific information and registration.
  • NYDP has established an anti-terrorism unit. You can contact this unit by calling 1-888-NYC-SAFE to report suspicious behavior or events, or to learn more about safety measures.
  • CNYC will host a seminar on Apartment House Security on Tuesday, March 18, 2003, from 6 to 9:30 PM, presented by independent security consultant Gerald O’Rourke.

Do you find the task of managing your building to be overwhelming? Are you concerned about missing important deadlines because you are not even aware they exist? Do you worry that you are not treating your building’s finances the way you would treat any normal business? Are you looking for a more efficient way to operate? These were some of the motivations that brought participants at CNYC’s 22nd annual Housing Conference last November to the workshop on Self-Management. There, insightful leaders worked with board members of small buildings to help them acquire the tools needed to effectively carry out the important task of running their buildings.

Participants were happy to learn and to share ‘war stories’ with the group. All too soon, the seminar came to an end. They clamored for more. In response, Mitch Levine and Rebecca Poole have developed a three-course seminar that they are introducing this spring, entitled "Self-Management 101".
Three intensive seminars, at intervals of several weeks, will cover the many facets of self-management responsibilities. Homework assignments will help participants apply the classes to their own buildings and to come up with questions to ask at the next session.

The National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA) was successful in 2000 in obtaining approval of an Internet domain for cooperatives. The domain, .coop, was selected by ICANN on November 16, 2000, as one of only seven new domains to join .com, .org and .net on the Internet. DOT COOP was launched on January 30, 2002. This new Internet domain is available only to cooperative businesses; it gives co-ops an opportunity to assert their uniqueness, and often allows cooperatives to finally get the names they wanted but couldn't buy under .com.

CNYC’s own website has been up an running since October of 1995; at that time it had been easy to acquire the site. However, we were quick to acquire and to emblazon it on our letterhead and business cards.

Many of CNYC’s member cooperatives have similarly "branded" their home pages. Co-ops interested in name reservation should contact, or call toll-free 1-866-288-3154. $160 purchases a dot coop domain name for two years.

Recycle Bottles
Last year’s budget cuts curtailed the NYC recycling program. After more than a decade of training city residents to recycle many materials, now the city no longer picks up glass or plastic for recycling.

There have recently been reports in the press about reinstating these recycling projects, but there is little likelihood of this taking place before 2004. In the interim, many New Yorkers are distressed at having to return glass and plastic to the waste stream. Now there is a way to continue to recycle these materials.

WE CAN is a not-for-profit organization that operates a container redemption center, where poor and homeless people who collect cans and bottles can redeem them for cash. In its 13-year history, WE CAN has diverted 70,000 tons of solid waste away from the city’s landfills, while also helping the poor to survive in the city.

WE CAN now invites buildings to donate their deposit bottles and cans to support the homeless and the environment. For a $5 weekly service fee, buildings of more than 30 units can arrange with WE CAN for a weekly pickup of recyclables, including all metals plus all redeemable plastic soda bottles. If you also wish to put glass into the recycling bags, WE CAN will accept the glass at an additional charge of $10 per week plus $5 per 100 apartments.

WE CAN provides a sticker for each building, indicating that it recycles through WE CAN. This deters scavengers from searching through black trash bags, since they know that all redeemable bottles will be saved for WE CAN. This limits slit black bags and litter strewn on the sidewalk. Fewer recyclables mixed into trash also results in fewer fines from the Department of Sanitation. And the recycling bags do not need to be left on the street; they can be brought out when WE CAN’s truck arrives to collect them.

To enlist in the WE CAN program or ask questions about it, contact Rick Dreizen at 646-729-9521.

RECYCLE Electronics
An innovative partnership between Sustainable South Bronx and Per Scholas, the E-Waste Recovery Program will recover Electronic Waste (desktop computer systems and non-wooden console televisions) from the residential waste stream. Late model computers will then be refurbished and resold to low income families, and older computers, televisions and VCRs will be processed to facilitate the recycling of the materials.

Since opening its doors last year, Sustainable South Bronx has developed a reputation as an effective grassroots organization with a strong track record for implementing development projects that are both environmentally- and community-friendly.

Per Scholas has been reconditioning and recycling E-Waste in ever-increasing volumes since 1999. Per Scholas’ target audience has most recently been large companies and institutions. To date, Per Scholas has not tapped into the residential waste stream of E-Waste, but the facility has the capacity to process much more than currently collected.

In order to facilitate collection of large amounts of E-Waste, SSB and Per Scholas will work with large apartment buildings in the five boroughs of New York City, as well as coordinate special events and pilot drop off projects. Educational materials will be available at all collection events. The joint effort has a goal of recovering up to 3,000 computer systems, 3,000 TVs from residential buildings and 600 printers. The combined weight of these materials is estimated to 150 tons of materials that will not have to go to landfills.

Buildings are needed to make this program succeed. An environmental waste coordinator will work with you to design a program that best suits your building’s needs. For more information, or to set up a collection event, contact Sustainable South Bronx at 718-617-4668.

More and more often, occasions arise when we need to lobby for improvements in our homes, our neighborhoods, or our city. Effective organization is a key to success. For 25 years, the Joint Public Affairs Committee (JPAC) of JASA has been organizing older adults throughout metropolitan New York to become active advocates working effectively for senior and community needs. In the spring of 1994, JPAC established a unique 10-week leadership training program called the Institute for Senior Action. The course sharpens the skills of long-time activists, and serves as a vehicle for recent retirees and others to become more involved in civic affairs and social action.

The program was so successful that JPAC was asked to provide a blueprint for its replication. The result is a succinct 118-page manual called the Tool Kit for Advocacy. It provides a step-by-step guide for initiating a training program and for enhancing advocacy skills, including material on How to Run an Effective Meeting, Social Action, Public Speaking, Persuasive Writing, Conflict Resolution, the Legislative Process, and much more. It is suitable for advocates and potential advocates of all ages. To order copies of the Tool Kit and/or learn more about the programs of the Institute for Senior Action, visit , contact Ronit Yaish at (212) 273-5261, or send e-mail to


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