Tag Archives: north shore towers

Health Expo offers tips on staying healthy, financial fitness


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

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North Shore Towers residents and other guests excitedly ventured around Towers on the Green, visiting each and every vendor offering advice on how to improve their quality of life.

The Queens Courier’s annual Health & Financial Fitness Expo, held Friday, November 30, featured dozens of different business representatives from a variety of industries.

After attendees were able to visit with vendors and talk one-on-one, the program began with a number of speakers covering topics from consumer and bank fraud, to healthy aging, to the importance of a properly fitted shoe.

Jennifer Seery of CHS Home Support Services, a subsidiary of Catholic Home Care, attended the expo and brought along several prototypes of their merchandise, such as a breathing mask. The service focuses on providing the elderly with the care that they may need in order to stay in their home for as long as possible.

“It’s anything you would need outside of a hospital or a nursing home facility,” said Seery of their products. “We have all medical equipment, so if you should need anything to assist you, we can give it to you.”

“[We’re here] to get our name out in the community and let people know that it’s possible to stay home for as long as possible, if that’s what they choose,” Seery said of the event and its networking value.

Also at the expo was New York Community Bank/Queens County Savings Bank; Sinai Chapels; Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation; AgeWell New York; Turnpike Comfort Footwear; Margaret Tietz Center Light Health System; Premier Care; Steadfast Caregivers; Brandywine Senior Living; Robert Lubow; Reverie Spa; Dr. Gail Lowenstein, M.D., Physician Homecare; Genworth Insurance; OKG Jewelry; Comfort Keepers; Life Caller; Home Instead; Bayside Chiropractic, Dr. Vilan; The Lev Group at Morgan Stanley; Carelink, Inc.; REL Business Gazette; Quality Health Care; Best Senior Care; Why Weight?; Dr. Zdenko Beg, P.T.; New York Life Insurance and Fatoullah & Associates.

Ron Fatoullah of Fatoullah & Associates spoke during the event to a crowd of Towers residents and outside guests regarding planning for and securing long-term care.

“Especially in an uncertain time, planning is the most important thing,” said Fatoullah. “People should get their affairs in order now.”

The attorney spoke about the federal gift and estate tax levels that will decrease by January 1, and Fatoullah wants people to be aware of that.

“They need to have essential documents in place,” he said. “Such as last will and testament, living trust and health care proxy. Planning in advance is the key to protecting assets.”

Those who also spoke at the event included Christine A. Feingold of Sinai Chapels; Tara Buoncore-Rut, Executive Director of AgeWell New York; James Christopher, Assistant Vice President of New York Community Bank Corp; Mark Margulies, owner of Comfort Keepers; Dr. Rob Sharma of Premier Care; Susan Cohen of Brandywine Senior Living; Robert Hauer, Manager of Turnpike Comfort Footwear; George Chiungos of Genworth Financial; and Gail Lowenstein, M.D.

Lowenstein, who came to the expo for the first time this year, enjoyed being able to speak to Towers residents about her work.

“The concept of my care is based on the care I give my parents,” she said, regarding her work in geriatrics. “North Shore Towers would be a wonderful locale for us to see patients.”

George Chiungos of Genworth Financial echoed this sentiment.

“It’s always nice to come to these events and see people that you wouldn’t normally interact with,” he said. “We’re here, taking a proactive approach [for our] long term care protection.”

Get your finances in top shape


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

The word fitness is typically used to describe a person’s physical health, but financial fitness is also important for well-being.

The Queens Courier’s Health & Financial Fitness Expo on Friday, November 30, will feature both — and show how you can keep them in top shape.

At the event, sponsored by the North Shore Towers, there will be a panel, “Planning During Uncertain Times: How To Weather The Storm,” featuring keynote speaker Ronald Fatoullah, Esq., as well as ones from Premier Care, Brandywine Assisted Living, Turnpike Orthopedic, Physician Home Care, Genworth Insurance, Comfort Keepers, Sinai Chapels and Queens County Savings Bank.

The speakers will be discussing a range of topics concerning financial fitness, elder law and home care planning.

There will also be networking opportunities, free coffee and cake, and exhibitors promoting long-term care insurance, health management, estate planning, financial services and more.

Admission to the Health & Financial Fitness Expo is free, but limited seats are available, so call today to register.

To attend or for sponsorship or exhibitor opportunities please call 718-224-5863 ext. 201 or email aamato@queenscourier.com.

The Queens Courier’s Health & Financial Fitness Expo will be held on Friday, November 30 at 10 a.m at Towers on the Green in the North Shore Towers, 272-48 Grand Central Parkway, Floral Park.

Get your finances in top shape!


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

The word fitness is typically used to describe a person’s physical health, but financial fitness is also important for well-being.

The Queens Courier’s Health & Financial Fitness Expo on Friday, November 30, will feature both — and show how you can keep them in top shape.

At the event, sponsored by the North Shore Towers, there will be a panel, “Planning During Uncertain Times: How To Weather The Storm,” featuring keynote speaker Ronald Fatoullah, Esq., as well as ones from Premier Care, Brandywine Assisted Living, Turnpike Orthopedic, Physician Home Care, Genworth Insurance, Comfort Keepers, Sinai Chapels and Queens County Savings Bank.

The speakers will be discussing a range of topics concerning financial fitness, elder law and home care planning.

There will also be networking opportunities, free coffee and cake, and exhibitors promoting long-term care insurance, health management, estate planning, financial services and more.

Admission to the Health & Financial Fitness Expo is free, but limited seats are available, so call today to register.

To attend or for sponsorship or exhibitor opportunities please call 718-224-5863 ext. 201 or email aamato@queenscourier.com.

The Queens Courier’s Health & Financial Fitness Expo will be held on Friday, November 30 at 10 a.m at Towers on the Green in the North Shore Towers, 272-48 Grand Central Parkway, Floral Park.

 

Towers power provides shelter


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Superstorm Sandy left millions without power all along Long Island and in Queens, with many residents displaced and seeking solace with friends or family.

At the North Shore Towers, Sandy was no match for the in-house energy, and according to board chair Bob Ricken, nearly 1,000 guests flooded the buildings to take advantage of the Towers’ generators.

“We have no power, the storm was very inconvenient,” said guest Rorri Heller from Woodbury, Long Island, who was staying with her mother Letty Steinberg. “The company here is lovely.”

The storm devastated entire towns, closed schools throughout the region, and left people without heat or lights as the temperatures suddenly plummeted.

“The storm destroyed my friend’s house in Levittown,” said Marion Rose from Dix Hills. As for her own home, she and her daughters were left without power and their street was blocked by a large tree.

While the hundreds of visitors remained without power at home, they enjoyed everything that the Towers has to offer, most notably the indoor pool, gym facilities and of course, a hot shower.

“We just lost electricity, and it’s really cold. I can’t really sleep. It’s more fun here,” said Delli Mizrahi, alongside her mother Daphne, from Syosset. “We’re really lucky because my grandparents just started living here.”

“We have no idea when [the power will come back],” said Stephanie Schwartz, visiting from Searingtown with her four children. “We’ll be here until our power comes back.”

– With additional reporting by Sweetina Kakar

 

Queens Courier to host Senior Health Expo


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Attention all seniors: do you wish there was one place you could have all your questions answered?

That place is Towers on the Green in the North Shore Towers, where, on Friday, August 24 The Queens Courier will be hosting a FREE “Senior Health Expo.”

Beginning at 10 a.m., attendees can network with business, health care professionals and community leaders from across the borough.

Then, a discussion panel will touch on an array of topics, including elder law, estate planning, long-term care, home care planning, health management and pre-planning funerals.

Free coffee and cake will be served.

Towers on the Green is located at 272-48 Grand Central Parkway in Floral Park. Space is limited,so reserve now by calling 718-224-5863, ext 226.

The event is sponsored by The Queens Courier, Ronald Fatoullah & Associates, Selfhelp Community Services, Inc. and the Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation.

Second Courier ‘Power Breakfast’ informs seniors


| mchan@queenscourier.com

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Seniors looking for another leg up in the extensive world of elder law got a second boost of knowledge during a recent Courier-hosted lecture.

During a “Power Breakfast” — the second one hosted by The Courier this year — held on May 4 at North Shore Towers in Floral Park, Ann-Margaret Carrozza, an elder law attorney, equipped seniors with crucial advice on updating their wills, while other leaders in the field armed them with tips on avoiding scams.

“When you hear horror stories that someone’s mother’s brother-in-law lost their assets because of a long-term care illness, it’s because they didn’t have a little mental game plan,” Carrozza said. “Sometimes that’s all that’s necessary.”

According to Carrozza, seniors should consider redoing their wills in the event that an unforeseeable crisis occurs in the family — specifically stating that all assets will be left in a lifetime trust. Doing so, she said, makes sure spouses will be able to benefit from assets without “somebody putting a claim on it for long-term care expenses.”

Jim Morin, a representative from Flushing Bank, also warned seniors to be cautious of an ongoing scam that targets the elderly. Scammers, Morin said, will often send letters in the mail or make phone calls telling unsuspecting victims they won a prize.

“If you get something in the mail like that, it’s dangerous,” he said, adding that recipients should not give the organization any money or personal information.

Guest speaker, Councilmember Leroy Comrie, also addressed the city budget’s recent cuts to senior centers and programs and urged residents to speak up and join the fight against them. Comrie said seniors in northeast Queens could contact Councilmember Mark Weprin at 718-468-0137 to voice their concerns, and those in southern Queens could call his own district office at 718-776-3700.

Before the lecture began, seniors had a chance to mingle with leading businesses in the industry, including vendors Sinai Chapels, Royal Health Care Services, FCE Group, RBC Wealth Management, The Bristal Assisted Living, Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation, Oyster Bay Manor and Harbor House Assisted Living, Flushing Bank, Sunrise Senior Living, Dignity Home Care, Riis Financial and Caring People Home Health Care Agency.

Pols argue over whose co-op/condo legislation is best


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A coalition of co-op and condo owners in northeast Queens had one message for its elected officials after arguments erupted over whose bill was best: no more lip service.

“What you see is the dysfunction in Albany. This isn’t a Republican-Democrat issue. It’s about homeowners who don’t want to be pushed out of their homes,” said Bob Friedrich, president of Glen Oaks Village Owners, Inc. and cofounder of the President’s Co-op Council.

The Council — which represents about 100,000 co-op shareholders — joined close to one dozen elected officials and more than 900 concerned Queens residents at North Shore Towers on April 12 to rally for action against the city for another year of property tax spikes.

While Friedrich said a solution could not be reached without the cooperation of state lawmakers, some electeds — with pointed fingers — turned the meeting into a heated political debate.

“There’s been a little too much lip service tonight. I sat here and got madder and madder as I listened to every speaker,” said Senator Tony Avella. “We had an opportunity last year, and we blew it because of politics on both sides of the aisle.”

Currently, there are three bills on the table in Albany on how to address the issue, which Avella said is a clear sign of disconnect between state leaders who he said may each be pushing for their own legislation to pass.

“It’s not that the Republicans don’t want to move the bill to address this — it’s which bill should they support? Which one gets passed? This has to stop. I don’t care if it’s my bill or somebody else’s bill, but this has got to stop. We’re not working together,” he said.

Avella’s own bill, which he called the “best solution,” would create a new property tax class — called Class 1A — for co-op and condo owners. He said the bill would provide the same protections that exist for Class 1 properties, capping any single yearly tax increase at 6 percent and 20 percent over a five year period.

An earlier law put forth by Assemblymember David Weprin would propose similar provisions, classifying co-ops as Class 1 and capping increases at the same percentage, while other legislation by Senator Toby Ann Stavisky and Assemblymember Ed Braunstein would see co-ops paying only 75 percent of their legal fees in a successful certiorari suit. They said the law would also stabilize assessments for two years following a successful challenge, capping spikes at 3 percent to prevent the necessity of an additional proceeding.

Councilmember Mark Weprin fired back, saying each elected official was in fact “working hard” together to create a solution by this year.

“With all due respect, you’re the one who hasn’t been to most of the meetings,” Weprin said. “This is a very delicate situation, but to say that people here are just giving lip service is just nonsense. This is not about whose bill we’re going to sponsor. We’re all trying to solve a problem here, and I think we’re all open to whatever solution we can get adopted that will save co-op owners. That’s the goal here, and that’s why I took a lot of offense.”

Senate and Assembly officials have only until the end of June this year to agree on one single bill and have it passed by both Houses, Weprin said. While the City Council is not directly involved in the legislation process, Weprin said councilmembers have an upper hand in trying to get the mayor on board.

“I’ve seen bills drafted, signed and passed in 12 hours. We just have to work together,” Weprin said. “I thought [the meeting] was a good case of democracy in action.”

Their love is like an ocean


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy of Melissa Molfetas

Melissa Molfetas and Billy Pardue can never look at a beach in the same way again.

Before the currents of love brought the pair to North Shore Towers (NST), it was on sandy shores, in crashing sapphire waves, where the two began to fall in love.

In 2008, Molfetas and Pardue served in the U.S. Army together. They were both shipped away for basic training but met up shortly after when they were stationed together in an Army base inNorfolk,Virginia.

On an off-duty Saturday afternoon, Molfetas — an inexperienced swimmer — decided to take a dip in the ocean offVirginia Beach, only to be pulled in by a riptide.

“I was swimming as hard as I could, but the water pulled me out and I couldn’t get back,” said the 24 year old.

And just like a romantic-comedy, now-boyfriend Pardue — a licensed lifeguard who was on the beach at the time — swam out and saved her.

“I didn’t think twice. I kind of just went,” said Pardue, 23. “She was out of her mind for being out so far. Now it’s funny, but before it wasn’t funny. It was kind of terrifying. People think we make this stuff up, but it’s really true.”

Molfetas went to thank him for saving her life a day later, but the only payment Pardue wanted was a date.

“He said, ‘If you want to pay me back, let’s get together later,’” Molfetas laughed. “But there was nothing to do there. We were stuck on an army base.”

The duo hit it off after a night of cheesy on-base bowling.

“He’s so charming. It was instant. I was so drawn to him,” Molfetas said, adding that the two had to keep things quiet until their term of service was up. “I had to avoid him at all costs because we couldn’t show any affection in the military. We had to pretend like we didn’t know each other. Everything was like a big secret,” she said.

But once they were back inNew York, “that was it.”

“We couldn’t get enough of each other,” Molfetas said.

Now, the two live together inElmontwith Pardue’s family, with hopes to someday soon own an apartment together. They have an ongoing joke that Molfetas is in debt to him with “a lifetime of servitude.”

They also work together at NST, where Molfetas is a sales marketing director and Pardue works for maintenance.

“He’ll walk by my [office] window, and he’ll wave like Peter Brady — like a dork,” Molfetas said. “I always tell him to get back to work.”

Pardue admitted to being “dorky” and said, “I do it to make her laugh.”

The two — both musicians who play in the same rock band — still like to hit the beach, where they enjoy running. Molfetas said although she refuses to get back in the water, she knows she’s in good hands if she does.

“It was a coincidence but lucky at the same time. He’s my personal hero,” she said.

Towers residents loved the show


| dbeltran@queenscourier.com

Diane Cypkin 2W

“Oy vey!”

It was quite a night in the VIP Room on January 13 as many “yentes” came out to see Dr. Diane Cypkin, professor of media and communication arts atPaceUniversity, salute and sing the songs of Molly Picon —considered by many as the first lady of Yiddish theatre.

The concert, which began at 8 p.m., drew many residents. Tables even had to be moved and extra chairs had to be brought in to accommodate the large audience.

 “It was very enjoyable,” said Towers resident Renee Sanders, who had heard many of the songs before. “Especially since I understand most of what she’s saying.”

Cypkin, who performed the songs in Yiddish and told stories in English, drew many laughs and loud applause from the audience, which contained a large group of residents who understood Yiddish. Even those who didn’t quite understand the language had a good time.

     “I don’t understand Yiddish, but it’s very interesting,” said resident Helaine Matvid. “She’s very good at explaining it.”

Bringing an icon to life


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Diane Cypkin

College professor by day and entertainer by night, Diane Cypkin brings nostalgia, harmony and history with her to every performance.

Born in a displaced persons camp in Munich, Germany after the war, Cypkin grew up in a Yiddish-speaking home.

Now inBrightonBeach, Brooklyn, her shtick is making sure the story of well-loved entertainer Molly Picon — said to be the star of Yiddish theater inNew York City— lives on. 

Picon, a New York-born Yiddish icon, is well-known for her theater, radio, television and film performances over the span of seven decades. The film many may remember her most for is “Yidl with His Fiddle,” which debuted in 1936. She also starred in the 1963 film “Come Blow Your Horn” and “Fiddler on the Roof” in 1971 before she suffered from Alzheimer’s disease in her later years and died at age 93.

Still, the ties Cypkin has to Picon are many and strong.

Not only was Cypkin raised by a musically-inclined father and theater-loving mother, she has infinite knowledge of Yiddish theater in New York City after writing a great deal about it and even performing there for many years.

Cypkin also curated an exhibition at the Museum of the City ofNew Yorkentitled “One Hundred Years of Yiddish Theatre inNew York City” before the Lincoln Center Library of the Performing Arts inNew Yorkasked her to do an exhibition on Picon.

Now, through a few hundred artifacts — including pictures, programs, reviews, posters, music and costumes — Cypkin tells Picon’s story in English and sings her songs in Yiddish.

“I love her music, and her lyrics are poetry. When I sing it, I see it,” Cypkin said.

Although the premise of her performances revolves around the life and times of Picon, Cypkin said the concerts end up focusing more on the stories of the audience members.

“It’s Molly’s story, but it’s also our story. At the end, you end up talking about the lower east side, and the audience members all remember going to the Yiddish theater. They all remember their old homes and their parents. Molly is the icon around which our lives have turned. It’s the story about everybody who lived in her time.”

Cypkin, who recently performed forNorthShoreTowersresidents, said she got lost on her way to the venue. With no map and no G.P.S. system, Cypkin said she pulled over and found an AAA service truck on the side of the road.

“I said to him, ‘Listen, I have a show. Please lead me there,” Cypkin said. “It was just a pleasure to be there, and it was truly a wonderful audience.”

Cypkin is a professor of media and communication arts atPaceUniversityand has been teaching there for more than 20 years. In just the last year, she and her pianist Lina Panfilova have done about 30 shows throughout the tri-state area.

“I can honestly say it’s not just a concert I offer. It’s a community event,” she said. “By the time the show is over, we know each other well. I can feel the audience with me, and after the show, people run up to talk to me and share their memories. Every time I do a show, I love it all over again. I don’t get bored. You can, but I don’t.”

And Yiddish or not, Cypkin said everyone can enjoy the performance.

“You don’t have to understand every word of Yiddish. It’s the music, and it’s the way it’s presented. It’s the sound of a language.”

NORTH SHORE TOWERS FEBRUARY EVENTS LISTING


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Queens Museum of Art

Flushing Meadows-Corona Park

Queens, N.Y. 11368

www.queensmuseum.org

 

            ArtAccess presents Masala Bhangra Workout for Families Affected by Autism on Saturday, February 18 from 3 to 4 p.m. at an offsite location at 89-11 Merrick Boulevard in Jamaica.  With this workout, the entire family can enjoy the traditional Indian dance Bhangra and experience the exhilaration of the Bollywood culture. This class will be enhanced with visual images and the participation of an ArtAccess instructor to help engage children who suffer from autism. Registration is limited to six families. For more information, contact Jamaica Library’s Discover Center at 718-990-5113

 

            On Saturday, February 18, bring the family to explore the Queens Museum of Art from 11 a.m. to noonThe Museums Explorer’s Club for Families Affected by Autism will teach different ways to view the art and will show various exhibitions the museum has to offer.  Families will also have a chance to create their own artwork inspired by the pieces they were exposed to throughout the day. Groups will include up to six families affected by autism. Feel free to include grandparents, parents and siblings while registering for this free event. For more information, contact Jenn at 718-592-9700 Ext. 130 or email autisminitiatives@queensmuseum.org

 

            Starting on Saturday, February 4 from 6 to 10 p.m., take a walk through history with Frank Oscar Larson: 1950’s New York Street Stories. Through this event, participants can learn about New York history through stories and photography. This body of work is having its debut at the Queens Museum of Art and will continue on select Saturdays through May 20. 

 

            Fifteen Islands of Robert Moses is a site-specific art infiltration into the Panorama of the city of New York. Artist and theorist Greg Sholette made and placed new islands about the Panorama’s waterways, where they exist as silent, post September 11 observers of the city’s past, present and future.  The opening party for this event is Saturday, February 4 from 6 to 10 p.m. It continues on select Saturdays through May 20. 

            Be a part of the Queens Internation 2012: Three Points Make a Triangle’s opening party on Saturday, February 4 from 6 to 10 p.m. This event is the fifth edition of the Queens Museum of Art’s biennial of artists living and working in Queens. Participants will be exposed to new and erotic artwork while they support individuals from their neighborhoods. This event will continue on select Saturdays through May 20. 

 

 

Nassau County Museum of Art

One Museum Drive

Roslyn Harbor, N.Y. 11576

www.nassaumuseum.org

 

            Families Making Art Together is an event that occurs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. from February 22 through February 24. The event features hands on art-making for children of all ages and their adult companions. There is a fee of the museum admission plus $5 per family materials and supplies. No reservations are required.

 

            On Saturday, March 3, participants can learn about Louis C. Tiffany’s Career as a Colorist at 3 p.m.  Tiffany’s use of color was celebrated during her lifetime and continues to be acknowledged today. Admission for this event is $5 for museum members and $15 for non museum members. The fee includes museum admission. 

 

Flushing Town Hall

127-35 Northern Boulevard

www.flushingtownhall.org

 

            Presented by Dr. Lih Chou of N.Y. Institute of Culture and the Arts, Flushing Town Hall hosts Lunar New Years Dance Sampler on Saturday, February 4 at 2 p.m. The sampler includes a variety of dance performances from China, Korea, India, Thailand, Taiwan and the Pacific Islands.

             Families can come together on Sunday, February 12 and enjoy Hip Hop with Illstyle at 1 p.m. Originating from class and contemporary hip hop and blended with an electric mix of dance and performance disciplines including tap and ballet, this event proves to be something the entire family can find interest in. This event is committed to delivering a positive message to all audiences.

‘Spiel’ was tons of laughs


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy of the Migdal Chapter of Hadassah

The Migdal Chapter of Hadassah at North Shore Towers (NST) recently put on a special Chanukah play.

Called a “spiel,” the play drew in a standing-room only crowd in the Coleridge Lounge on December 22. It was written and directed by Carolyn Dinofsky, chapter president, and comically combined elements of Jewish history and NST parody.

The cast — garbed in costumes — included both female and male members of the chapter.

According to Hadassah members, the highlight of the night was when Eneas Arkawy, chapter board member, stole the show by spiritedly impersonating the well-known, blonde and fashionable NST realtor Linda Rappaport.

Street Talk: What is your New Year’s Resolution?


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Evelyn Dubowy

“My New Year’s resolution is to go back to the gym and start physically moving more than I have been. I just want to keep walking and keep moving.”
Roz Sann

“My New Year’s resolution is to do as much as I can to save the planet and work with politicians to pass environmental protection laws.”
Barbara Leonardi

“My resolution is to stick to a diet and lose weight.”
Larry Lansner

“I want to continue working on behalf of the co-op and condos in New York City in order to create fairer laws to protect co-op and condo owners, and to continue working on political issues to make life better for our residents.”
Dianne Stromfeld

“My resolution is to be nice to people in order to create a more peaceful world.”
Marcel Smigel

Year in Review: A look back on 2011 at NST


| mchan@queenscourier.com

6

As Tower residents ring in the New Year, Board President Bob Ricken sat with the North Shore Towers Courier to reflect on the past year’s successes while looking ahead to the future of the co-op.

For the third consecutive year, residents can relish in the fact that there will be no increases in maintenance or Country Club dues.

Ricken attributes this mainly to the rise in apartment sales this year, which landed the co-op major headlines in the city’s most prominent daily newspapers.

The New York Times featured North Shore Towers on February 20 as “one of the strongest sellers among luxury co-op buildings in New York City.” Soon after, on August 19, the Towers stood out as one of the “best places to live in New York,” in an article published by the Daily News. The four-page spread boasted the facility’s amenities and even its lively history.

“It was probably more positive than I could have even been,” Ricken said. “These kinds of things really enhance the image of North Shore Towers.”

According to Ricken, apartment sales have increased a little more than 25 percent, with 98 sales last year and 125 this year.

What is important about that is we far exceeded what we budgeted for our flip tax,” he said. “That helped us keep down maintenance, and we had a large amount of money for flip tax because we had those 125 sales.”

Ricken said the work of the Political Action Committee also helped to keep costs down.

This year, Assemblymember Edward Braunstein, Councilmember Mark Weprin, City Speaker Christine Quinn, and two-time visitor State Senator Tony Avella came to speak at the co-op.

“Many of these politicians came to [Presidents Co-op Council] meetings and helped let city officials be aware that we have an inequity in our tax structure,” Ricken said. “And that was indicated this year when our tax rate was lower than we expected.”

Along with a total six-member Country Club increase from 2010, Ricken expressed that he was pleased with several other accomplishments throughout the year — including the annual Board of Directors election, which saw incumbents Phyllis Goldstein, Murray Lewinter, Phil Plafker and Bob Ricken re-elected. They will each serve another two-year term after running unopposed.

“I don’t believe that’s an indication that there’s lethargy among the people who live here,” Ricken said. “I think it’s an indication that they’re very satisfied with what the Board is doing. I’m very proud of the accomplishments of this Board.”

Ricken said he’s also pleased with continuous efforts in improving communication between the Board and residents. In order to keep the community on top of what goes on behind closed board room doors, Ricken said he slips letters under residents’ doors right after the meeting, so they won’t have to wait a month to hear important news.

He also said second on the agenda after reviewing the previous board meeting minutes is reading letters that residents have submitted — whether they are suggestions, criticisms, angry or positive feedback.

Ricken said the Board has also begun utilizing Power Point presentations during open meetings in order to pass along information to residents in a clearer manner.

“In other words, we’ve been extremely transparent, and there are very few surprises now for residents,” Ricken said. “One of the things that the Board is most gratified with is that the tone of the meetings is more positive, and the feedback from residents has been equally positive.”

The optimism may have also stemmed from the completion of several major projects this year, Ricken said.

Due to the high amount of money in reserve funds — which Ricken said is now in the area of $18 million — Tower residents now have a new chimney stack, which replaced one that was rotted over decades of use; new ramps; new rugs and logos in the entranceways; new doors in each of the buildings; revamped gardens throughout the community; improvements in the VIP Room, including fixing the men’s and women’s bathrooms and switching food vendors; the installation of the new pool room downstairs in the County Club; new furniture for the indoor pool and new pieces of equipment in the gym.

Looking to 2012, there will be several more items added to the agenda, along with replacing generators, which Ricken said is currently in a “long and very intense planning process.”

Residents and their families saw the importance of the generators when several storms pummeled through the region in 2011.

“We’ve had significant storms this year — not only with snowstorms, but there was a bit of an earthquake and there was also Hurricane Irene,” Ricken said. “It was gratifying to have about 350 of our residents’ relatives sleeping over because they didn’t have electricity in Queens or Nassau County.”

The co-op never lost power during these storms, Ricken said.

Ricken then complimented and thanked the staff, management and vendors for being on top of any possible storm damage.

“I’ve never received as many positive comments from our community about the job that they have done with snow removal and just keeping the place in an immaculate condition,” Ricken said. “It’s incredible waking up after a massive snow storm and find that all you see outside is black top.”

In 2012, the Towers’ two biggest contracts are up for review, meaning major upcoming projects include deciding which management and security companies to hire.

Currently, the co-op’s management company is the Charles H. Greenthal Management Corp.

“Even if we’re happy with our management company, we believe that we should always go out and interview other firms,” Ricken said, adding that co-op officials are presently interviewing management companies and will make a choice within the next couple of months.

The co-op will also go out for a new mortgage in 2012.

“Hopefully, with mortgage rates being lower, we’ll be able to save a lot of money in the future,” Ricken said. “The biggest challenge is always to maintain the finances of the co-op.

“You always have to plan for the future. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. My favorite quote has always been, ‘If you coast, you can only go downhill.’ We always have to have a focus on the future, on maintaining and improving everything we have. That’s the principle by which we budget and do long-range planning.”

Board addresses 2012 budget


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

While Towers residents can expect shortfalls in the budget this year, the end of 2011 saw an excess of revenue over expenditures.

“Budgeting is really not a true science. I would consider it more of an art,” said Mort Gitter, Board member and finance committee chair. “You can budget in a couple of ways. Over the years, we’ve adopted a slightly different approach with three components. Our primary aim is to maintain and preserve the financial integrity at North Shore Towers.”

At last month’s open finance meeting, Gitter addressed highlights of the 2011 budget and expectations for 2012, adding that for the third year in a row, there will be no maintenance or Country Club increases.

“We are committed to keeping North Shore Towers as a luxury complex,” Gitter said at the December 15 meeting. “But in order to maintain a luxury complex, you’ve got to spend money. We have to figure in our budgeting process how much money we can spend — taking into consideration the financial soundness of the community to keep this place running as a top notch facility, which does of course preserve shareholder value.

“Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn’t. But believe me, we give it our best shot,” said Gitter.

The co-op anticipates having an excess of revenues over expenditures of about $340,000, which Gitter said is “incidentally less than one percent of the amount of our budget.”

“That’s very, very close to being 100 percent accurate,” he said.

Revenues from operations in the year 2011 totaled $43,240,000, Gitter explained, while operating expenditures in 2011 approximated $42.9 million.

Gitter attributes this excess to fuel, water, real estate taxes and insurance costs in 2011 being slightly less than projected expenditures.

“That’s the reason. There’s no mystery to it,” he said.

However, due to major projects in the works for 2012 — along with rises in costs from major components of 2012 expenses — the co-op will see a shortfall of about $835,000.

Gitter said projected operation revenues for 2012 will be $43.4 million, and projected operation expenditures will come to $44,235,000.

He also said the 2012 projected expenses will exceed those in 2011 by approximately $1.3 million due to increases in wages and benefits, water rates, real estate taxes and building repairs.

Specifically, he said wages and benefits will go up by $350,000, as water and sewer rates, along with service contracts — work done by outside firms including the elevators and landscaping — continue to escalate.

He said repairs are going to be up in excess of $200,000 and real estate taxes for the community are projected to rise by approximately $700,000.

“Unfortunately, we still have to pay more taxes each year then we paid in the prior year. So even with all of the activity that goes on, our real estate taxes are rising, but hopefully at a decelerated rate of increase than what we have encountered in the past,” Gitter said.

However, Gitter said there are several ways to accommodate for this, without having residents suffer maintenance fee increases.

The majority of the money will come from the operating reserves — a fund that was created by shareholders a number of years ago and was designed primarily to guard against unforeseen cash shortages arising from spikes in fuel or operating costs.

This fund has built up to a point where it exceeds $4 million, Gitter said.

“For a number of months, we have wrestled with how to remedy this shortfall,” he said. “Normally, we do not advocate taking funds from our operating reserves to remedy shortfalls. There’s a lot of danger in that because once you start dipping into the till and taking money from your reserves, that accelerates year after year and it doubles up. So the fact is that you might cure [the shortfall] in one year, and you have a double problem in the following years. As a result of which, we have continuously resisted the temptation of taking any money from our reserves to remedy any shortfall that we may have.”

But this year is the exception, Gitter said, adding that this reserve fund is different from the capital improvement and emergency reserve funds.

“In the event that we encounter any cash problems in the year, we could take some of this money and not have to come back through the shareholders to pay our bills. We didn’t think it was fair that if we have this fund that at some point we would not take advantage of it,” Gitter said.

The co-op is also up for refinancing its mortgage — a one in 10 year event, said Gitter.

“Nothing is sure in this world, but we have a pretty good handle of what the market will be, and that we will save a significant sum of money in the refinancing over our current rate,” he said. “As the result of which, in 2013, our expenses should be less than they are now, since we are advertising a portion of our mortgage to the tune of approx $1.2 billion a year. We will save that money in 2012.”

Gitter said this also quenches the original fear of doubling up on debt from dipping into funds.

“When you add it all up, in the event that we take a shortfall in 2012 and you take [money] from the reserve fund, you will not be doubling up because when you add 2012 and 2013, the savings and expenses in 2013 will pretty well balance out,” he said. “We have resisted for many years, but we have a once in a long time opportunity to do it without any material adverse effect upon the finances of this cooperation. This obviously bestows a very significant financial benefit to each of you and all of the shareholders.”

In 2012, the co-op also expects to spend approximately $2,120,000 on capital improvement projects — a budget that Gitter says is “somewhat below” the monies spent in 2011.

“There’s a reason for that, and it’s not because things are not getting done or that we are not going to do them,” he said. “It’s just so much work that can be done around here without totally disrupting the lives of all of us. Everybody in this room has been subjected to the ramps, with the hammering and drilling. Next year, we’re going to have scaffolding.”

He said there is a “whole host of other capital expenditures that will be made,” but the capacity to do them is limited.

“All of the capital improvements will be done at the proper time, with minimal inconvenience to our shareholders,” he said.

These projects include but are not limited to upgrading a boiler, which is projected to cost about $680,000; fixing sidewalks and drains in the parking area in front of the buildings, said to cost $425,000; and improving movie theatre seating, which will total $75,000.

“We all are extremely proud that our reserves are at a point that they give us confidence in knowing that we can meet our immediate needs comfortably,” Gitter said.

In 2011, the capital improvement fund saw $7.1 million, and Gitter said the fund will increase to $7.5 million in the year 2012.

The emergency reserve fund is “stable,” Gitter said, and will increase from $3 million to $3.1 million in the new year.

The only fund that will see a decrease is the operating reserve fund, which Gitter explained will be used to fund the 2012 deficiencies. Currently, it has $4.6 million. By the end of 2012, it will have $3.8 million.

In total, there were $17.6 million worth of funds in 2011, and 2012 is expected to see $17.3 million.

“There’s no magic to it,” Gitter said. “We’ve operated efficiently and in addition, we have been able to save very, very substantial sums of money than our expenditures.”