Saturday, January 22, 2005

Heat's on in Harlem at last

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Heat's on in Harlem at last


The city started taking the big chill out of a frigid Harlem apartment building yesterday.
Department of Housing Preservation and Development engineers fired up two boilers to pump heat and warm water to the 104 units at W. 131st St. and Convent Ave.

"It's still not what you'd call toasty, but the radiator is warm and the workmen taped up the drafts in my windows," said tenant Patricia Lewis, 55.

But with the temperature outside a bone-chilling 13 degrees, the heat rose slowly in the six-story building.

"We've got a little warm water now and they say it'll get hot, but I won't believe it until it happens," she said.

HPD spokeswoman Carol Abrams said a water line was fixed in the first boiler and a hole in a chimney was patched. One boiler went on several hours before the other because workers had to make sure the chimney repair passed inspection before firing up the second unit.

"We don't have a happy ending yet, but we're getting closer," Abrams said last night.

The repairs came after the Daily News found that temperatures in the building were plummeting into the low 40s and residents were forced to use their stoves for heat.

The building's manager, Webb & Brooker Real Estate, sent out letters yesterday afternoon informing residents that the boiler system had been turned off and would be repaired "immediately." The company refused to comment to The News.

Although Curtis Kinsey, 51, still had his oven on to help keep his apartment bearable, he said his heart was warmed by the response to The News' stories.

"I've gotten a lot of calls from folks who want to help," he said. "One woman from North Carolina offered to send me a space heater, an electric blanket or money if I needed it." "I told her thanks, but all I need is a little heat. You know, there are a lot of good people," he said.

Work carried out by the HPD will be billed to the building's owner, St. Philip's on Convent Ave. Housing Development Fund Corp.

It lists St. Philip's Episcopal Church as its mailing address, but attempts by The News to trace the company have been unsuccessful.

Originally published on January 22, 2005

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