UPDATE: This story has been updated with a response from the Department of Buildings concerning its "continuing and cooperative" efforts to work with the VFW Post and that the water boiler was shut down due to failing safety release valves.
Veterans of Foreign Affairs Post 3427 has been without heat after its boiler was shut down due to code violations. The building has also been fined about $13,000 for other violations. NY1's Van Tieu filed the following report.
The group of veterans at the VFW post says it has tried to correct the violations, but do not receive proper guidance from building officials to clear the liens. They say the bureaucratic red is putting its post in jeopardy of closure.
Stuck in bureaucratic red tape, a group of veterans say they're being unfairly fined for building violations. So much so that their community center is in jeopardy of closing. During a press conference Monday, veterans at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 34-27 in Flushing say they feel like bureaucrats are attacking their post. The post has been dealing with building code violations for more than two years.
"There is a lawless war being perpetrated against the veterans of new York city. And this post being fined out of existence is evidence of that war," says Marvin Jeffcoat, Sergeant First Class, U.S Army (Retired).
Building code violation fines have mounted against the VFW Post to the tune of $13,000.
"We have no more money ," says Post Commander Ray Ramos. He says their troubles with the Department of Buildings started when an energy-efficient water heater was installed in 2015. Records show that no permit was ever issued for the work. A spokesman for the department says the violations were major, including an illegal water heater installed without a permit, an unauthorized gas line, and that the work was did not meed code standards.
A spokesman for the department of buildings says a permit to correct the water heater violation has already been issued and it is willing to expedite the process to close the case. He says the veterans just need to call an inspector to check it out. However, Ramos says the post is continually trapped in red tape, and it isn't that simple.
"I called several people, they just kept giving me the run around," Ramos says.
Ramos says an inspector came out about three weeks ago, but the correction on the water heater was not signed off. Instead, the post incurred more fines, and more problems. The boiler was turned off under a mandate by the Department of Buildings due to unsafe code violations. The building is now freezing.
A spokesman for the department refutes those claims. He clarifies that the VFW Post's contractor requested a boiler inspector to check the boiler, and a plumbing inspector was not requested to check the water heater. The spokesman says the boiler failed its tests due to faulty safety valves and had to be shut down because the boiler could blow up without those safety features. The spokesman says no violation or fine was issued against the VFW Post for the boiler. As for signing off on the water heater, he says the VFW Post can simply make the request and an inspector would check it out.
"How do we get form underneath this? Just when we thought you guys were here to take care of [the water heater], now you hit us again [with a fine and shutdown for the boiler]," Ramos says.
With no money, and no heat, he says the VFW Post may shut down. His fellow veterans are speaking up, demanding solutions.
"These fines need to go away today," says Jeffcoat.
"We’re willing to correct the problem but we needed someone to come in and sit with us and just have dialogue," Ramos add.
However, the buildings department spokesman says the agency has worked closely with the veterans concerning the violations since the initial violation.
Ramos says instead of helping them through the complicated process, bureaucrats are leaving veterans in the cold. The VFW post has reached out to elected officials to step in and help.