Three Williamsburg condo boards have filed a $2 million lawsuit against the city, alleging it has failed to maintain the waterfront areas that the buildings developed and for which owners continue to pay fees.
The boards, which represent the 807 unit owners in the three buildings, allege the city has allowed North 5th Street Pier and Park to “fall into a state of complete disrepair, overridden with crime and unlawful activities,” according to a complaint filed last week in New York Supreme Court.
The condo boards at One and Two Northside Piers and The Edge say they pay annual fees to the city Department of Parks and Recreation. But the suit alleges owners have had ongoing issues in the waterfront park since 2014. The list of quality of life issues include inadequate garbage disposal that’s led to a “significant rat infestation problem,” burnt out lightbulbs and failure to ensure dog owners abide by leash laws. The complaint also says skateboarders and motorcyclists have run roughshod through the area.
The city declined to comment while the case is pending.
The pandemic has exacerbated the problems, according to the condos. Over the warmer months, “block parties” that run from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. have become increasingly common in the park, with revellers openly consuming alcohol, playing loud music and even launching illegal fireworks.
“During one such incident, fireworks launched from the [park] struck the façade of one of the condominiums, causing damage and significant risk of fire,” according to the suit. On a different night, a group of attendees tried to get into one of the condo building’s parking garages until the doorman intervened.
The Parks Department has not responded or taken any action to address the problem, despite numerous requests, according to the suit. The boards also allege, after one call for assistance, “responding police officers did not arrive on the scene until over two hours later.”
Two of the condominiums, One and Two Northside Piers, were developed by Toll Brothers in late 2007, while the third condo, The Edge, completed in 2009 by Douglaston Development.
The waterfront park area that runs along the East River from 5th to 7th streets was part of each development. But the condominiums conveyed the parkland to the city to take over all maintenance, repairs and security services. In exchange, the condos continue to pay annual fees to the city.
Attorney Joseph Goljan of Braverman Greenspun is representing the condo boards and stressed that his clients are not insensitive to the city’s dire financial straits. But he said in the case of North 5th Street Pier and Park his clients’ fees are supposed to cover all costs related to its upkeep.
“The entire maintenance of the park is funded by fees paid by these condominiums… and these agreements outline exactly what the city is supposed to do,” he said. “It’s just a dereliction of duty on behalf of the Parks Department.”
According to Goljan, his clients have made repeated efforts to resolve the issue over the years without going to court but keep “getting brushed off with a form letter.”