Friday, March 5, 2010
By Michael Horowitz
Saying that his apartment remains unlivable because of mold contamination, civic activist Frank Belcher said, this week, that ignoring major concerns is consistent with the way the Riverbay Corporation operates.
Belcher, claiming that the mold in his apartment is still triggering his asthma attacks, said that he finds it frustrating, but not totally unexpected, that his Section 5 apartment remains unlivable. The apartment is unlivable, Belcher insisted, despite management’s 16 efforts to fix the problem since last December.
The civic activist, who fired off a letter to City News in which he attacked Co-op City’s “lackadaisical” board of directors, said, this week, that he intends to pursue legal actions against the Riverbay Corporation aimed at having his apartment cited as hazardous to his health and recouping the carrying charges he has paid since he first determined that his apartment was unlivable.
Belcher, who is black, said that management and members of the board get away with ignoring major community concerns because the black majority here refuses to “speak up” – the way people do in other neighborhoods.
Riverbay Executive General Manager Vernon Cooper has insisted repeatedly that Belcher’s apartment is livable, despite high mold counts in two environmental tests that management has paid for.
Cooper couldn’t be reached for comment this week.
Belcher said, this week, that Cooper is now insisting that no more work will be done in the activist’s apartment, so the activist has paid for an environmental firm to complete a third round of testing.
Reflecting the board’s inaction on mold in apartments and the sex attackers living in Co-op City, the civic activist said, in a letter to the editor this week, “It is business as usual.”
Belcher said that Riverbay board member Helen Atkins is the lone board member who has voiced any concern about the pervasive mold problem in his apartment and the possibility of mold problems in other apartments.
Belcher stressed, “We continue to be stuck with a board of directors that is dysfunctional and incapable of taking care of the shareholders’ business.”
The civic activist said, in his letter to the editor, that management continues to “lie” about the difficulties in getting convicted sex offenders booted from Co-op City.
Belcher said that he finds it outrageous that management and the board of directors have failed to act, over the last three years, on the sex-offender issue despite his repeated urgings for action and the support his efforts have received in the City News.
Turning to the mold problem in his apartment, Belcher said, “When I discovered the mold problem in my apartment, management did all it could to cover up the problem. The lies that they told me were too numerous to count. I never knew how unprofessional and arrogant management could be until I tried to get them to correct the mold problems in my apartment.”
Belcher added, “They still deny there is a problem with mold in Co-op City, despite the fact that a company that they hired to do an air-quality check found elevated levels of mold in my apartment and in the outer hall (by the elevators). This is a problem they will continue to cover up because they don’t want you to know that there is a problem with mold. …”
Pointing out that he has received about 15 phone calls from people suffering with mold in their apartments. Belcher said that it is past time for management officials and members of the Riverbay board to abandon their usual lethargy and act assertively.
Belcher said that mold problems in Co-op City are inevitable, considering the many problems with water leaks in the community and the unwillingness of management to make repairs aimed at preventing the build-up of mold contamination.
“Riverbay never properly repaired leaks in the past, and I am a witness to their shoddy work,” Belcher said. “After having repairs in my apartment ay least five times, I know the difference. They would do a great job repairing the outside of a water-damaged wall, but they never dried out the inside of the wall until recently. This is why there are problems with mold in apartments in Co-op City.”
Turning to the apathy of Riverbay board members, Belcher said, “ I still can’t get over the lackadaisical attitude of this board of directors. They address nothing. Why did they run for the position if they weren’t going to conduct the shareholders’ business?”
Belcher asked rhetorically, “Considering the do-nothingism that has engulfed this board, why do we need them?”
Political Action Committee – National Apartment Association (NAA) files Amicus Brief in mold case (two infant deaths in mold filled apt – Wasatch Prop Mgmt) citing US Chamber/ACOEM ‘litigation defense report’ to disclaim health effects of indoor mold & limit financial risk for industry
“Changes in construction methods have caused US buildings to become perfect petri dishes for mold and bacteria to flourish when water is added. Instead of warning the public and teaching physicians that the buildings were causing illness; in 2003 the US Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform, a think-tank, and a workers comp physician trade organization mass marketed an unscientific nonsequitor to the courts to disclaim the adverse health effects to stave off liability for financial stakeholders of moldy buildings. Although publicly exposed many times over the years, the deceit lingers in US courts to this very day.” Sharon Noonan Kramer
Information on Riverstone Residential, the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency, and the owners of Toxic Mold Infested Jefferson Lakes Apartments in Baton Rouge, Louisiana continuing to allow tenants to be exposed to extreme amounts of mold toxins