Snow Emergency Declared

Lowell has declared a snow emergency starting at 3:00pm with a parking ban beginning 6 hours later. Association parking rules during a declared snow emergency follow city rules, so all cars must be removed from the Canal Place surface lot by 9:00pm tonight or they risk being towed. There is free parking at the Hamilton Canal garage behind Canal Place 3 for downtown residents while the snow emergency is in effect; parking is NOT free at the Roy garage next door.

Folks can also sign up to get notices direct from the city here:

Washer/Dryer Advice?

There was a related post about a year ago, but if anyone has any new information to offer this neighbor, please put it in the comments. Thanks!

Our dryer, which might have been original to the unit, has finally died. We think it’s time to get a new washer and dryer, but knowing that some appliances in the building have to be custom ordered, is there a brand/type of stacked washer dryer that anyone recommends? We’d need one that would fit in the upstairs laundry room. Open to thoughts and suggestions!

Elevator Stoppages

This morning’s elevator stoppage was NOT a malfunction; it was the elevator working as intended. When smoke detectors near the elevator are triggered, safety protocols lock down the elevator and a repair company key is required to return it to service. Dust from the demo work in the basement may have been behind today’s alarm. This is frustrating and unfortunate, and may occur again before the demolition is complete, but it is a temporary problem.

Meeting Time & Garage Stuff

A reminder to owners planning to attend this evening’s Board meeting (via Zoom): It is at 6:00, not the old 7:00 we’ve been used to. If you are an owner and did not receive the email with the link, please check your junk folder or contact management.

For anyone who has access to the Boston Globe, I’d recommend taking a look at this article: “‘Most Plumbers aren’t even picking up the phone now.’ Burst pipes cause backlog after Boston deep freeze.” 

I know the prospect of the basement being closed (again) for an extended period seems incredibly slow and annoying, but, in reality, things are moving stunningly quickly. Reports of multiple units with burst pipes started coming in Saturday afternoon; by dinnertime we had a large crew of plumbers, management, maintenance, and, I believe, at least one furnace serviceperson and electrician. When it became clear around noon Sunday that the entire basement ceiling was compromised and had to go, we had a demo company arranged within hours; they’re already well along on this enormous project. Next steps have been planned out and some of them already scheduled. Management will be speaking at length this evening on the subject.

Yes, all of this will take a frustratingly long time. But when all is said and done, we expect to have a beautiful new ceiling, free of any problems, plus upgrades to adjacent systems, and that we will never, ever, have to go through this again!

First Floor Folks & Tonight’s Temp

I only just thought of this, and it’s after office hours so I may not be able to consult with management and see if they think an email blast is warranted, but please be aware, there is currently no heat and no insulation in the basement garage and the temps are supposed to be in the low 20s tonight. Yes, the garage door should be staying closed all night which should keep some/most of the cold out, but it was already pretty cold down there. If I lived on the first floor, I’d consider leaving any under-sink cabinets open, keeping my heat above 65 for the night, and leaving the taps dripping a tad.

Perhaps I’m being over-cautious suggesting all this, but as they say, “once burned, twice shy.”

A Bit of Unofficial Insight

Prior making those last two announcements, I had started a longer, somewhat related, more thoughtful post. I normally try to avoid multiple posts in one day, but here it is anyway:

One of the wonderful things about living in a building like ours is that you can, for the most part, be as involved or uninvolved in the community around you as you like. It’s very easy to be totally unaware of all the work going on behind the scenes to keep things running smoothly. Even as someone who is currently pretty involved, I’m constantly amazed by just how much is quietly being done by our new management company to effectively address the wide range of issues that dropped in their lap when they took us over a mere 3 months ago. As someone fairly “in the know”—14 years an owner, 9 years running this site, and 5 years on the board—here’s a bit of personal and totally unofficial insight as to where we are and how we got here.

A brief history of our property management since the building’s 1987 conversion to condos:

  • Following the first management company(s), Royal Management took over in the early 1990s. Cathy Deloge was the company owner and kept the building on solid financial footing throughout the years. Periodically the Board would take a look at other management companies, but always came back to Royal. Special assessments have been very few and far between—in the almost 14 years I’ve lived here I recall just one, and that was only in the $500 range.
  • In November of 2020, following the loss of its office manager, Royal Management joined with Avatar Properties. Cathy continued as our building manager under the Avatar umbrella. She retired from Avatar at the end of 2021.
  • As of March 2022, the owner of Avatar retired and Avatar Properties became part of BRIGS, LLC property management. While being skeptical of BRIGS as management, the Board felt that the company should be given an opportunity to prove themselves.
  • By the summer of 2022, BRIGS had confirmed some the Board’s worst fears and, after interviewing multiple companies, J A Wood was brought on board. Their stewardship began on November 1st of 2022.

And why have the past several months been so eventful in a not-so-good way?

  • In each property management change—3 in 2 years—information was lost, partly due to the switch from paper to digital, partly due to personal knowledge/experience being lost, and partly due to carelessness by prior management.
  • Frankly, BRIGS was prone to letting things fall through the cracks.
  • Given the 35 years since the building’s conversion, multiple systems are showing their age at once. And not every decision made over the decades that looked sensible and financially sound in the short term has proved quite so wise in the long term.
  • COVID put extra burdens on us in several ways: how we meet and interact, how many packages the mailroom must handle, how quickly parts for repairs can be obtained, how available contractors are, and how many bids are offered for work to be done.
  • We’ve had two extreme weather events in the past few months—the Nor’easter just before Christmas and the past weekend’s record-breaking windchills—that have impacted huge numbers of buildings, some of them far worse than they did ours.

I know that with so much going on, it can seem like this issue or that is being overlooked, and tempting to place blame for problems on the most convenient target, current management, but those of us working closely with them have been struck by how much they’ve had to deal with and how well the’ve done it. Even Ron, who’s been doing maintenance in the building since its conversion, says that when he and his vast store of knowledge eventually leave us, we need to hang onto J A Wood because they “really know their stuff.” I, for one, am convinced that they are the company that will get us back on track and help the property thrive as we move forward.

Please Move Cars Out of Basement

If, for some reason, you’re getting notifications from this bulletin board but missing the ones coming from management, and if you park in the basement, please move your car out ASAP while a crew works to clean up damage from burst pipes.

Several crews are currently in the building working to get things cleaned up and running again after this weekend’s extreme temperatures.